By Dayna Abraham of Lemon Lime Adventures, author of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day
Sensory play can be fun and engaging, but did you know that it can also help children focus?
If you are anything like me, I am sure you have had times where you wished you could get your child to calm down and focus. Sensory activities that include heavy work (proprioceptive input) are proven to help children organize their senses and make more sense of the the world around them.
That is why, I am excited to be sharing 5 sensory activities that are proven to help your child focus.
Sensory play is usually associated with play dough, sensory bins and often times not associated with “heavy work” or proprioceptive input. Proprioception refers to your awareness of posture, movement and balance and a knowledge of position, weight and resistance as they relate to the body. Often children will seek proprioceptive input when they are looking for a way to calm or organize their nervous system. Sensory play that requires slow, steady resistance and effort to be exerted can be just what a child needs in this situation to help calm.
Whether it's to do homework, read a book, or even participate in a family discussion, scheduling “Heavy work” sensory play can increase your child's ability to focus on the activity. For my son (age 8), we have “heavy work” regularly scheduled throughout his day to help him stay on task and keep him centered.
5 Sensory Activities for “Heavy Work”
- Surprisingly there are many everyday chores around the house that are perfect for refocusing our children. A quick 5 minute chore is sometimes all it takes to get another 20-30 minutes of calmness.
- Going to the nearest park, opening up the sand box, or making homemade sand is great for some tactile and proprioceptive input. Depending on the activity, sand play can be either alerting or calming, both of which will lead to more attention and focus.
- A variety of sensory doughs can be used as a quick and easy sensory activity for any kid. We like to keep at least 1-2 different sensory doughs handy for squeezing, kneading, pulling and pushing into. You can find our collection of sensory doughs here.
Kneading color into dough (Gluten Free Play Dough recipe here)
- Gardening with kids is not only a phenomenal way to connect with nature and take advantage of all that outdoors can teach our children, it is also chocked full of sensory benefits. Some of my favorite garden activities that alert the senses include digging, raking, and pushing the wheelbarrow, but there are so many more.
- Calm down jars are a go to in our house when a transition is coming, my boys are nervous about something, or worked up over something but not ready to talk. My boys love our LEGO calm down jar and enjoy shaking with all their might, before watching the glitter settle.
Get your copy of Dayna's book with more great ideas about focus here:
No matter what you choose to help your child focus, remember that their behaviors could be an underlying need for sensory input. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and offer them an alternative solution to the undesired behaviors you are seeing. Not all children will respond equally and only you know your child best. Finding heavy work your child enjoys and responds to will calm both your child and you!
About the Author:
Dayna Abraham is the author of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and mother to three totally awesome superkids who inspire her every day to be the best grown-up sidekick they could ask for. When she’s not helping her kids conquer the world, she keeps busy by writing at lemonlimeadventures.com, writing books like Sensory Processing 101, STEAM Kids, and Learn and Play with LEGO®, and drinking lots of coffee. Before she was a writer, she was a National Board Certified teacher, where she met some of the coolest superkids on earth. As a little girl, she wished grown-ups and other kids saw her as a superkid, so now she’s made it her mission to inspire kids like you to love who they are and embrace their differences.