When you’re the parent of a child with complex challenges, it can often feel like you’re overwhelmed with responsibility.
From becoming an instant expert in your child’s diagnosis, to understanding available services and intervention options, to knowing how to best support your child at home, there is always something to do or to learn — and much of it is incredibly complicated and time-consuming.
So how can you be your child’s biggest advocate while also creating space to simply enjoy family life?
The good news is that there are things you can do at home to help your child blossom while you have fun as a family. Activities such as art, music, sports, and games can be both enjoyable and therapeutic if done with intention.
These activity-based interventions are called Recreational Therapy (or, Rec Therapy), and they can have a meaningful impact on your child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional health.
When used at home, recreational therapy practices give your child opportunities to engage in family activities while gaining independence, increasing social and coping skills, strengthening communication and confidence, and so much more.
There are endless ways to incorporate activity-based interventions at home, but here are some of our favorites:
#1: Go on a family outing.
Whether it’s something small like taking a neighborhood walk, or something more expansive such as attending a community event, a change of scenery can work wonders for any family.
Community outings can help your child increase their planning and sequencing skills, and improve their ability to model appropriate behavior. Introducing your child to new sights and sounds will also increase their ability to self-regulate in over-stimulating situations.
Activity to Try: Visiting a petting zoo or small local farm where your child can interact with animals is a wonderful way to stimulate their senses while they work on their interpersonal interaction skills.
#2: Make some art.
From bullet journaling to bird-feeder building to sun-catcher crafting and more, arts and crafts facilitate self expression, fine motor skills, and knowledge of recreation and leisure activities.
Take cues from your child and find a craft that complements their interests. It doesn’t have to be complex; even the simplest craft has many social, cognitive, and emotional benefits!
Activity to Try: Rock painting can be a personalized, calming activity that all family members can enjoy together. Once your rocks are decorated, have fun finding them new homes outside in your garden or on a nature walk!
#3: Get cooking.
Cooking, baking, and even gardening are great ways to introduce your child to new tastes and smells, and help them regulate their senses.
Our best advice? Let your child experiment in the kitchen. Having the time and space to get messy and make mistakes as they discuss ingredients, taste-test, stir, mix, and measure can go a long way in building their confidence.
Activity to Try: Any of the recipes in our free ebook, Healthy Meals & Shining Moments! We developed this resource to help families create meaningful family mealtimes, and it’s filled with easy cooking activities and endless kitchen tips.
#4: Play together!
You’ve been doing this since your child was small, and for good reason: the act of play can help increase motor skills, teach children how to follow directions, build cooperation, and demonstrate the importance of teamwork.
Physical activity, board games, dance, or even music exploration can help you build fun (and sometimes competitive!) traditions and memories your family will cherish.
Activity to Try: “Simon Says” is a super simple, fun, and fantastic game for people of all ages and abilities. And “Simon Says” … go plan your family game night right now!
Here at The Quaker School at Horsham, we see the meaningful benefits of recreational interventions every day, which is why we added Rec Therapy to our robust Clinical Services offerings. We hope you find these practices as fun and beneficial as we do!
Want to learn more about Rec Therapy, either at home or in the TQS community? Email us, or join the conversation on Facebook.