Advanced Pediatric Therapies

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From “A Sensory Life”: Homework Success

You are probably already starting to have some homework battles at home.  It’s a great idea to spend some time planning for homework success for your child.  This means:  Where are they going to do it? When?  What equipment do they need?  What strategies work best for my child?  This article is from the “A Sensory Life” blog that has lots of great ideas.  We are happy to help you figure out a way to set up your child for success when they are doing their homework.  Just ask!

SETTING YOUR KIDDO UP FOR HOMEWORK SUCCESS!   
SENSORY STYLE!

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The sensory strategies below apply to ALL children, and are of utmost important for those with sensory differences.  After a long challenging day at school,  the last thing a child needs is homework…but since I can’t do anything about that part, I will do what I can do, which is provide sensory solutions!  Two things to keep in mind: 1. The brain and nervous system are still sorting out and processing all of the multi-sensory input from the school day, so insisting on homework to be complete the minute a child gets home is probably the worst thing you can do for the brain.   2. It is critical to give the brain time to sort out and decompress, THEN re-boot the brain by sensory activities to maximize attention to task, executive functioning and cognition, and to make the homework process efficient and a success!

TOP 16 SENSORY STRATEGIES FOR HOMEWORK! 

  • Give the child a break!  At least 30 minutes of free sensory play when they arrive home from school, and this does not count screen time (That can perhaps be the reward after homework)
  • During the 30 minute break, offer various sensory activities, primarily vestibular and proprioceptive 
  • Also suggest resistive sucking and blowing games prior to homework such as a bubble mountain
  • Offer a crunchy or chewy snack during homework or drinking something resistive through a straw, such as a smoothie or even yogurt or pudding
  • Offer chewing gum during homework or another oral sensory tool
  • Be sure homework is complete in a quiet area, not in the kitchen or living room..unless you can be sure it will be quiet and distraction free
  • Allow the school work to be done on a clipboard while sitting in a squish box or in another sensory retreat with adequate lighting
  • Offer earplugs or noise cancelling headphones during homework (even when in a quiet place) as the sound of the fan or noises outside can be enough to disrupt sensory processing for those who have difficulty filtering out auditory input
  • Try using a vertical surface for any written homework, such as an easel or even taping the work to a flat surface on the wall.  You can also encourage using a chalkboard or dry erase board for working out math problems and such.
  • Use an indoor or outdoor swing or trampoline for working on memory type homework such as studying for a test or for studying a spelling list
  • Use a ball chair instead of a standard chair
  • Place Theraband or other resistance bands around the base of the chair for pushing and pulling with the legs, or wrap over shoulders for deep pressure and resistive work with the arms. The resistance bands can also be wrapped around the arm of the chair.
  • Another alternative is laying prone on elbows for working on homework, especially when reading
  • Never allow homework to be done with the TV on in the background
  • Offer tools such as a weighted lap pad or vibrating pillow to be used during homework
  • And how could I forget, a fidget toy of course!
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Making a Balanced Lunch for your Child

This post was written by Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN on “Kitchen Explorers”; part of the PBS Kids website.  You can find the article here

We often field questions from parents who are worried that their kids are not eating a balanced diet.  It’s important to try and keep calm.  We can help you when sensory and/or oral motor issues are interfering with your child’s diet.  But these are some common sense suggestions to help make a lunch your child will eat.  Remember that if your child isn’t getting the proper nutrition during the day (either at breakfast or lunch), you may have a meltdown on your hands when they get home from school.  Also, one of the most regulating things your child can do during their school day is sip water from a water bottle.  In any event, get your child involved!  

Does making school lunch stress you out? Of course it does! You have to pack a balanced, edible meal five days a week for a child who hates sweet potatoes one week, and adores them the next. But just because it can be stressful doesn’t mean it has to be. With these five simple strategies that range from planning in advance to cutting yourself some (much needed) slack, you’ll be able to banish school lunch burnout.

1. Get Preppy
If you do little bits of prep throughout the week, you’ll be ready to assemble lunch in no time. For example, when you buy a bag of baby carrots, have your kids divide them into individual portions, so they’re ready to pack when you need them, advises Angie Hasemann, MS, RDN, CSP, Weight Management Dietitian, Pediatric Endocrinology at University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Yes – the kids. Hasemann says she sees “way too many teenagers who still have their parents pack their lunch. From a very young age, kids should be involved in this chore and taught this skill. It will pay off later.” (You can use your knife skills to cube the cheddar cheese, rinse and halve the grapes, and slice those cucumbers.)

2. Don’t Overthink It
To pack a balanced lunch, just pick something from each of the five food groups. “Adults often forget that kids don’t require their food to ‘go together’ like adults do. They’re more likely to be fine with (and enjoy) random ensembles,” says Hasemann.

Here are some sample foods you can mix and match from the different groups:

  • Grains (1-2 servings): wheat tortillas, whole grain noodles, wheat bread, whole grain pretzels, and popcorn
  • Vegetables (1 serving): baby carrots, edamame, avocado, cucumbers, pickle spears, and roasted sweet potato
  • Fruit (1 serving): apples, grapes, strawberries, clementines, watermelon, kiwi, and applesauce
  • Dairy (1 serving): milk, part-skim cheese stick, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream cheese
  • Protein (1 serving): turkey, grilled chicken, nut or seed butter, eggs, hummus, and veggie burgers

3. Give Leftovers a Second Chance
There’s nothing easier or more cost effective than re-using something you’ve already made. Meghan Girard, mother of three (ages 4, 2 ½ and 1), makes a double batch of macaroni and cheese for dinner, reheats leftovers the next morning with egg whites for added protein, spinach, and a little extra cheese, and packs it in an insulated thermos for her four year old.

Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, chef, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers these creative ways to reinvent leftovers:

  • Stuff stir-fry into lettuce wraps and pack low-sodium soy sauce for dipping
  • Fold BBQ pork into burritos with low-fat cheese and pre-cut veggies
  • Turn grilled chicken into grilled chicken fingers by cutting it into thin strips and sending along BBQ sauce or honey mustard for dipping

4. Find the Fun
Try to find something you like about packing school lunches. For Girard, it’s all about the pumpkin bread. She loves to bake treats and quick breads with her kids, and when she includes a slice in her son’s lunch, he gets so excited he starts bouncing around the classroom, telling everyone his mom made it.

Maybe the fun is watching your kids pack their own lunches…nothing wrong with that. Set up bins in your refrigerator and pantry, recommends Hasemann, one for each food group. “Think a dairy bin with yogurt, cheese sticks, and individually packaged soy milk; a veggie bin; a fruit bin; a protein bin of small packages of nuts, individually portioned hummus, and lunch meat; and a grain bin of bread and pretzels. The kids can grab one food from each bin and pack their own lunch that way.”

5. Go Easy on Yourself
You don’t need to pack a perfect lunch – ever. Instead, do the best you can. Some days will be better than others. If you skipped a food group, you can serve it for breakfast or dinner, or just call it a day and try again tomorrow. In the bigger picture, your stress level has a greater impact on your child’s well being than a serving of dairy on Tuesday afternoon.

Here are easy lunch ideas to inspire you:

5 Simple Techniques to Get Started with Bento Lunches on Kitchen Explorers
Bento Lunches by Wendolonia.comPin It

Submarine Sandwich by Lisa Storms
Submarine Sandwich by Lisa StormsPin It

Customizable Pizza Kabobs by Mom to Mom Nutrition
Pin It

Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN, is a freelance writer, blogger, and nutrition counselor with a holistic approach to healthy living. She has an A.B. from Harvard University and an M.S. in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University.

What ideas do YOU have for easy, nutritious lunches?  

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The Blog is now back from summer break!!

summer break

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