Occupational Therapy News: Bright Tomorrows

Back to the grindstone!

Now that the children are back at school and into some routine again, it almost feels like we can take a deep breath. For some families it still may be a time that is overwhelming and challenging, knowing how to manage the after school rush, how to get the kids outside rather than on their screen and for others it might be “how am I going to manage them and the younger siblings!”

Managing a family can be joy-filled but also busy, stressful and overwhelming. As your family grows, you often have to be on top of lots of different things – making lunches, helping with home readers, focusing on therapy, after school sports, work and your own self-care. It is hard to be on top of it all, let alone when there is an age range of children in your family.

Bright Tomorrows is a collaborative project involving the Telethon Kids Institute and the Minderoo Foundation which has a great website with information to support development in the early years of childhood.

Bright Tomorrows also has a free app that can assist with managing and simplifying how to best support your children, especially from birth to 5 years. This simple app helps you to navigate day to day development, giving tips on building attention, developing emotions as well as supporting communication and establishing routines. This app is free on Google Play and the App store, giving you daily reminders  and “moments” to enjoy with your children.

We know that when a child receives the support they need in the early years of life it can have a significant impact on their skills and participation not only when they enter school but later in life. The Bright Tomorrows furry character Bobby is there to help you engage with your child and experience meaningful moments to support their early brain development.

What we know

Some key things to remember when aiming for a brighter tomorrow for our children are:

  • Relationships matter – having strong connections with care-givers both inside and outside the home (teachers/ extended families / day care) can promote emotional wellbeing
  • Parenting and caregiver support have a big impact on the development of our children
  • Play is vital – it can help build skills but also boost our emotional wellbeing
  • Using technology is complicated. We are surrounded by technology and this can have both a positive and negative impact on child development. The key is active support when using a device and avoiding excessive use.

REF: https://colab.telethonkids.org.au/SysSiteAssets/media-docs—colab/colab-map-the-gaps-report-2019-final.pdf

What can we do

  • Use local parks and playgrounds to build physical skills, have fun and build problem solving skills. Engage with your children, but it’s also ok to step back and watch from a safe distance
  • Read with your children
  • Visit a local library for story time or weekend activities
  • Talk about your feelings with your children, and if you need support, talk to an adult for guidance or even your GP
  • Talk with your teacher or GP if you feel you need support and guidance to help your child grow and develop. Your local child health nurse can be a great resource
  • Consider how you use screen time in your house. Is there a simple change that can be made make the use of the technology meaningful or to decrease over use or reliance on a device
  • See Bright Tomorrows for more information, or download the app today https://www.brighttomorrows.org.au/

Berry Johnston
Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapy News: Shoelace Tying!

Tying your shoelaces is such a tricky skill to master in the early years.  Many skills are required including the use of a pincer grip, hand and finger strength, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, intrinsic in-hand manipulation, memory, bilateral integration, crossing the mid-line and so many more.

What is important to remember is that expecting children to tie their shoelaces before they have developed these fine motor skills is like driving a car before you get a licence. But we understand when we are trying to get a drivers licence that we have to practice driving with an experienced driver and build up our hours on the road, so likewise practice at tying our shoelaces is extremely important.

Breaking down the steps to tying your shoelaces can help, along with some key verbal cues and visual cues. Below is a visual step by step guide that helps to explain the steps in a systematic way.

Another good tip is to not practice shoelace tying when you or your child are time pressured! Practice it when you are not in a hurry (i.e. not rushing out the door for school!). You can do it before bed or on the weekend and try it with different shoes – both on and off the feet!

Lots of encouragement for trying hard will help, along with the intrinsic reward that they have mastered a tricky skill of tying their shoelaces!

To view a printable PDF of this guide, please click here