Warm weather means it is a great time to explore the outdoors. Outside play is a wonderful opportunity to work on early intervention (EI) outcomes. Talk with your EI team about strategies and activities that may be especially useful for your family as you work on your EI outcomes. As you talk, you can brainstorm how everyday activities can become opportunities to practice new skills.
For example, consider the fun warm weather pastime of blowing bubbles. Infants and toddlers love to see bubbles magically fly from a bubble wand. Did you know that when you are blowing bubbles you are working on many skills, including:
- Oral motor skills: Blowing bubbles develops the small muscles in your child’s mouth as they pucker their lips and blow bubbles. Strengthening these muscles is important for developing their ability to form clear sounds when speaking and to eat and swallow safely.
- Gross motor skills: Your child can reach to pop bubbles and build hand-eye coordination as they reach. Walking toddlers and infants may follow the bubbles on their feet and practice their moving skills.
- Eye tracking skills: Younger infants and toddlers learn to follow the bubbles with their eyes.
- Vocabulary and concept development: As you talk to your child about bubbles, you expose them to words such as clear, soapy, float, and pop.
- Cognitive development: When young children touch a bubble, it pops, giving them a chance to explore cognitive concepts such as cause and effect.
- Joint attention: Smiling and laughing together builds strong relationships and helps children learn to connect with others and discover shared interests. Who can help but smile as bubbles float by?
Be creative when you think of places for summertime play. The sandbox, the park, the community pool, the farmers market, and the zoo are all exciting places to explore in warm weather.
Let’s consider swimming. The pool is a great place to cool off and enjoy time together. Your EI team’s developmental or physical therapist can help you find the right equipment to help your child be safe in the water or teach you how to hold your child so you both feel safe and secure.
A trip the zoo or county fair might seem overwhelming, especially for a child with sensory challenges. Your EI team can help you find picture books to help your child become familiar with the upcoming experience and plan so the pace and timing of activities are enjoyable for all of your family members. Adaptations such as a picture schedule or noise cancelling headphones could help your child manage this new experience.
Your EI team can help you think of adaptations you may need to make to help your child successfully explore these spaces. They are a resource to help you think of equipment or strategies to add to your favorite summertime activities.
Through planning and teamwork with your EI team, you can be ready for a full summer of fun and learning!
Originally written for the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse Newsletter: Summer 2018