We recently posted about how great playing outside is for your child’s development. Ideally, kids would be outside playing for three hours every day! But that can be a difficult task, especially if your child had sensory processing issues or other needs.
For some children the wind is too much to bear, or the sunlight is too bright. For some, the noise is too loud to enjoy the outdoors. Others struggle with knowing how to play, or lack social skills for positive group play.
To help these children benefit from outdoor play, try these strategies that address the various ways kids struggle:
- Have your child wear a hat with a brim or sunglasses
- Use noise cancelling headphones; wear earmuffs or a headband over the ears
- Let your child choose the clothing for outdoors, including long sleeves or a jacket even when it’s warm outside. Better to be comfy and happy than fashionable!
- Make outdoor play a part of your child’s daily routine. Prepare your child with social stories or books that talk about what to expect when outdoors.
- Make a plan for what you will do together outdoors. Have your child help choose outdoor activities for the day.
- Start slow, and build time gradually. It doesn’t have to be three hours all at once. Allow the time to add up over the course of the day. Even 10 minutes at a time is better than no time at all!
- Model outdoor play by playing with your child and facilitating social interactions with other children.
- Be available to support as needed based on your child’s skill level, while stepping back to provide your child space for practicing skills on their own.
- Make outdoor time a time to build relationships. Have a picnic, read a book, explore your neighborhood, meet new friends. Enjoy each other as well as the outdoors!
There’s so much fun to be had outside! With a little extra attention, you and your child can create enjoyable outdoor play experiences that both support their development and make great good-weather memories.
Want to be sure your child has the skills and support they need to enjoy summer? Contact STEPS today for an evaluation, or consider joining our Social Skills Groups.