Get crafty these school holidays
School holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking of activities to keep the kids entertained.
When it comes to choosing a project, there’s plenty of ways to incorporate fun and learning in the one activity. For example arts and crafts, which support development of your child’s fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, self-regulation, social interaction and self-esteem.
We spoke to Northcott Occupational Therapists Jovana Dragicevic and Caitlin Garment to get some tips on how to create a fun arts and crafts routine for kids with disability.
Consider your child’s functional capabilities
Before starting an arts and crafts activity, consider your options to ensure you can offer your child some crafty ideas that match their current capabilities. Choosing activities that a child can complete helps to develop a sense of achievement, which is a great boost to a child’s self esteem. It is also likely to mean your child will enjoy the activity more than if they are given a craft project that is too challenging.
Facilitate attention to the task
As any parent will know, keeping a child’s attention for more than a few minutes is no mean feat. Though it may seem like an impossible task, there are ways to create the perfect environment to encourage your child to engage with a particular activity.
Mornings are a great time to participate in arts and crafts as this is generally the time when your child is most energised and active.
Start by reducing distractions. Turn the TV off and create a quiet and less cluttered environment. Another option is to play calming music during the activity. Music that runs at around 60 beats per minute – e.g. Baroque music or sacred earth drums – can help to reduce a child’s heart rate and support a calm-alert arousal state which encourages concentration.
When deciding on a craft project, let your child choose what they would like to do. If a child is offered choice, it will likely increase their engagement, as it’s something that’s more meaningful to them.
Lastly, don’t rush your child through the activity. Give them the time they need to complete it at their own pace, which will differ depending on your child’s support needs.
Offer encouragement for their efforts
We all like to hear words of encouragement and your child is no different. Put the focus on what your child can do, rather than what they can’t do, and keep in mind that every moment is an opportunity for learning and enjoyment.
When giving praise, make it specific. For example, talk about how you like the way they coloured in that picture, or that you like the shapes they drew. By acknowledging their effort, they will become more confident when engaging in the activity in the future.
Don’t forget that if your child is having fun it means they are engaging with the task. So always focus on having fun because that’s when learning happens!
Arts and craft ideas
Vertical surface activities
Tape a piece of paper to the wall and trace objects or stencils. Paint with shaving cream on a mirror (it will wipe off easily), or draw and colour with chalk on a chalkboard or whiteboard markers on a whiteboard.
Create a collage with a range of different textures; for example paper, tissue paper, crepe paper, leaves, textured card, sequins, glitter, sand, pom-poms, cotton wool and feathers.
Painting with hands (and feet)
Add sand/glitter to the paint to make it fun! You can also start with a brush/roller if your child doesn’t want to touch the paint. Tip: choose activities that incorporate a whole body physical/sensory experience.
Want to get out and about these school holidays? Check out our guide to Sydney’s disability-friendly museums and galleries.