This week (February 2-8) is National Play Therapy Week, and we are so excited to celebrate! Play is at the heart of everything we do here at PTN, and we are firm believers that children feel more loved, more heard, and more receptive when they engage in play – that’s exactly why play therapy is so effective. It’s safe to say that we all learn faster, feel more at ease, and simply have a better time when we get the opportunity to learn through play.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate this week and spread the word about the benefits of play therapy, the Association for Play Therapy has helpful resources that you can check out, including images that you can use to replace your cover photo or profile picture on social media this week.
Of course, the best way to celebrate this week is to actually enjoy some play therapy time with your child. Here are some of our favorite ways to work on occupational, physical, and speech therapy skills through at-home play.
Occupational Play Therapy
If you’re looking for ways to supplement your child’s occupational therapy between visits with their OT, one of the most simple and effective ways is through classic games. Depending upon your child’s age, you could play Jenga, Operation (with or without the batteries), Connect Four, or any number of other classic table games that are easy to learn and fun to play as a family. If your child is on the younger side, don’t worry about the rules. Just have fun building towers or creating colorful Connect Four patterns. Get a few travel-sized games that you can take with you in the car wherever you go.
Physical Play Therapy
All sorts of physical therapy goals can be practiced with classic games like Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light. The key to making these games fun and keeping them fresh is embracing your own creativity as well as the creativity of your child! If your little one tells you, “You’re a puppy,” that’s a great invitation to engage in their world. Give your child your best bark, then tell him that he’s a kangaroo and must bounce everywhere, or make her a sunflower and have her stretch her petals/arms up to the sun! Whatever skill your child needs help with, playing pretend is a great way to get them practicing without them even realizing it.
Speech Play Therapy
Songs and word games that you probably played as a child are still perfect for helping your child practice different sounds and to help build their vocabulary. I Spy is a wonderful game that can be played anywhere (it’s especially great anytime you’re stuck waiting in line). With younger kids, you can pick a color and have them point out all the things they see that are that color. With older kids, you can move past colors and use a wider range of words to describe the specific item they need to look for.