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Academic Related Recommendations: quick list of ideas to help children learn better, attend longer, and recall better!
1. Brain connections are better and recall is better when a child is getting plenty of water, no toxins in their diet, healthy proteins including DHA from fish oil, and are exercising outdoors for at least 45 minutes a day! Read SPARK by Dr. Ratey to learn more about the research behind learning!
2. Movement breaks are essential to getting the blood flowing back to the brain and oxygen to the brain cells! Every 30-45 minutes! Set a digital or visual red timer and show the schedule for the next few hours using pictures or words (whatever the child can understand). Let them know if they work well, when the timer goes off, then they get a "sensory diet" break for 5 minutes. If they stop working, talk excessively, or get distracted, then set the timer back for that amount of time they were not working.
After they sit for that period of time, set the timer for longer the next session. Work up to 45 minutes max.
Think of ways to do learning with different body posturing such as rocking in a rocking chair to read, standing or jumping to do spelling words, laying on belly to write or color.
Our bodies were not made to sit in chairs and desks for long periods of time, children learn through touching, moving and doing best, remember this!
3. Use a fidget basket or bag of quiet squeeze toys or small hand fidgets that the student can squeeze and hold while listening and sitting for long periods of time. If this ever becomes a distraction it must be taken away.
4. To help with need to fidget in the seat and get more movement stimulation while sitting the student can wear a weighted vest, sit on a move and sit seat wedge, wear ankle weights, use bouncy bands or wrap theraband material around the bottom of the chair, use therapy ball chairs, etc.
5. Use auditory filters: white noise such as a fan, noise machines, music such as ocean waves, wind, Gregorian Chant, or Mozart helps, and offer sound dampening headphones to filter out background sounds.
6. Limit TV, computer, and Nintendo time to only a MAX of 30 minutes- 1 hour a day. This is hard for many people, but will reap great benefits! Most experts actually recommend NO TV, COMPUTER, or video games until a child is 9-10 years old, and very small amounts even then! No electronics on school nights!
Electronics are detrimental to brain growth, as well as harmful to attention, the way they learn, memory, and ability to socialize. Research has proven a delay in speech and social skills as well as motor skills for children on electronics too young!
7. Remember that children learn through all their senses and the most powerful sense is movement, so try to use hands on teaching techniques and hands on learning as often as possible. Let them use all their senses to learn and the information will stick longer and go into their long term memory!
8. To help children to actually hear and listen tell them to "tune their ears" by touching both their ears and LOOK at you in the eyes when you are telling them something to do. Give short easy to follow instructions. Have them repeat back to you what you said.
9. For children having a hard time working from left to right, sit on the left of the child, use a green paper under the left half of their paper, and a red one on the other half. Or use red and green smiley face stickers for each line, or marker dots. This cues them to always start at the green, and work on writing on reading until they see the red, then they look for the green again!
10. Use special and consistently spaced writing paper such as raised line, graph paper for all writing assignments. If the lines in the paper is differently spaced, they will never learn to write letters the same size, most children write in the space allowed. You have to give them consistent guidelines for how big to make the letters.
Ask your OT for more ideas!
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