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Top Outdoor Activities That Boost Your Child's Development

As a parent we want to be able to support our children’s sensory and motor development. We intuitively have great ideas and incorporate that well.

There are times when kids might need more “grounding” input and need more support to regulate their bodies. When we are dysregulated or “frazzled/upset/melting down”, we can use the great outdoors to help our children and ourselves too!

Here is a list of activities that give you the “biggest bang for your buck” sort of speak of sensory input to their bodies. These activities also develop a child’s motor skills as much as they help with self-regulation.

1. Climbing: Trees, rock walls, and playground equipment offer deep pressure through the joints and muscles which in turn provide a calming effect to the nervous system.

2. Swinging: Different types of swings, tire swings, or sensory swings give vestibular and proprioceptive input.

3. Jumping: Trampolines, hopscotch, and jump ropes enhance spatial awareness and muscle proprioception.

4. Running: Various terrains challenge muscles, providing excellent proprioceptive feedback. Running on the beach, in the trails, at the park, etc.

5. Digging and Shoveling: Sandpits, dirt, or garden areas offer resistance and deep muscle engagement.

6. Push/Pull Activities: Pushing wheelbarrows, pulling wagons, or even heavy doors strengthens muscles and joints.

7. Biking and Scootering: Coordination skills combined with muscle feedback help in proprioceptive development.

8. Obstacle Courses: Combining different activities to crawl, jump, and balance helps develop rich sensory experiences.

9. Hiking: Varied terrains and inclines offer continuous proprioceptive input.

10. Balancing on Logs/Stepping Stones: Enhances body awareness and improves balance through proprioceptive feedback.

These activities are especially effective because they immerse children in natural environments, enhancing the sensory richness and engagement.

As we move into the summer season, we can include these activities as part of everyday routine. Once we see the positive influences these activities offer, you will be able to determine which ones work better for your child.

Above all else, have fun!

When developing this skills at a young age, play should be at the forefront and with others who also enjoy being with them.

Regulation and co-regulation can occur simultaneously:)

Thanks for reading!

Jessica Earle, Occupational therapist

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