Therapeutic Fun With Dad

Summer activities are especially therapeutic and perfectly suited for dads and children to share. No matter the age or interest level, or whether it involves inside or outside play, the benefits to one’s motor and language systems cannot be underestimated. Let’s think about three distinctly different but enjoyable summer outings and ways to highlight and maximize their beneficial input.

For those who love to fish, consider this:
– Hold night crawlers or lures for powerful tactile stimulation. How many night crawlers can you find in that container of soil?
– Count the numbers of lures you have or fish you see and discuss their features. How do they feel? What do they look like? Are they shiny, rough? How many descriptive words can you use?
– Hold a fishing reel for excellent practice in maintaining a “functional” arm/hand position, which is ideal for most manual activities; also an excellent bimanual activity, with one hand holding the pool while the other operates the reel (yes, there’s such a thing as a leftie fishing pole).
– Practice being still and straight (and quiet!) while standing or sitting still calls for the senses of movement and position, and calls all postural muscles into action. The boat adds a greater dynamic balance challenge.
– A fish on the line? Lucky you…the postural and manual challenges increase exponentially.

If you are a barbeque master, consider this:

– Make a list of ingredients and assorted items you will need and discuss where to locate them.
– Mix a marinade together and make some kebabs as fun fine motor activities that also involve sequencing and tactile stimulation.
– Carry serving bowls and other tableware to the table with beautifully straight posture and arms (and objects) away from the body; carrying a tray is not only more efficient, but it requires extra strength – try it!

And for an awe inspiring trip to the bowling alley:
– Talk about the sequence of events, how is this different from other activities? How is it the same? What special shoes do you need and why?
– Check out the different bowling balls…which feels the lightest? heaviest? Discriminating the weight of bowling balls requires a keen sense of how much body parts have to work to hold them up.
– Whether strattling the ball and rolling it, or working on real bowlers’ form (holding the ball, taking two steps, dipping and releasing) – bowling is a real exercise in timing and coordination of the two sides of the body. And when you manage to knock down some pins it’s all the more fun!

–Anne Toolajian, MA, CCC-SLP

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