Life Skills to Teach your Child during Quarantine

Life Skills to Teach your Child during Quarantine

As parents, we have a unique situation which allows us to spend a lot of time with our children at home.  As an OT, I can’t help but think of it as a great opportunity to teach your kids some basic life skills, that will stay with them long past quarantine life!

  1. Cooking and baking. Kids learn best when they can use their sensory systems (hear, smell, taste, touch, sight) and baking and cooking entail all of them!  It is a phenomenal sensory opportunity, from dealing with new textures on their hands or face, new smells and tastes, tolerating loud noises…it covers lots of areas that could be hard for your child.  Other skills that are targeted with baking and cooking are:  using measuring cups (bilateral skills, math), stirring with spoon (bilateral and fine motor skills), following a recipe (time management, sequencing steps, reading), kitchen safety (safe vs. unsafe situations, being aware of potential hazards, how to use fire extinguisher, when to call 9-1-1), and cleaning up (how to hand wash and dry dishes, load dishwasher, etc.).  Not to mention it is a great way to pass time with a reward of food at the end!
  2. Carry on a conversation. As I child, I was horribly shy and would have benefited from some coaching.  Practice people within your family or maybe even over FaceTime.  Work on how to introduce themself, ask questions and wait for a response, eye contact, active listening, and how to politely exit a conversation.   You might be surprised how much a little bit of practice can make a huge difference in your child’s confidence in social situations.
  3. I am by no means a seamstress, but I can definitely sew a button.  Even if it is something basic, you may tap into an interest they previously would not have experienced.  Start small with tasks like, sewing a button, threading a needle and hand stitching two pieces of fabric together.  If you are more sewing savvy, trying making a pillow or maybe even making face masks for your family! Sewing targets fine motor and bilateral skills, executive functioning (sequencing steps, following a pattern, etc.).
  4. Not a glamorous task in the eyes of child, but great life skills!  Obviously, not every child can complete every chore due to safety issues and age restrictions, but again start simply for your younger children (put clothes in hamper, put dishes in sink, rinse dishes, put away toys, etc.) and more complex for your older ones (scrubbing shower, loading and unloading dishwasher, dusting, running the vacuum, washing windows, sweeping floors, etc.) .  Chore charts can be a big motivator for kids of all ages and help you get the chores done.
  5. Doing Laundry. This can entail a LOT of steps that target different skills.  For example, sorting clothes by colors (executive functioning), carrying laundry basket and loading/unloading washer or dryer (heavy work, sensory input), when to start and stop loads of wash (time management), folding clothes (bilateral skills and motor planning), and putting clothes away (organizational skills). Either have your child do a portion or complete all the steps, it’s never too early to foster independence and lend you some help on laundry day.
  6. Use tools (with supervision of course!). Using tools can be incredibly motivating for kids and help them feel great satisfaction by building and creating.  Again, using tools requires fine motor and bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, safety awareness, and executive functioning. Again, keep things easy for younger kids (using a hammer/nail or screwdriver/screw) and maybe take on a full project for older kids (building a birdhouse, assisting in fixing the mailbox, etc.).
  7. Budgeting money. Help your child understand the value of a dollar and how to manage money.  Try activities like using a weekly allowance to “buy” preferred toys or activities.  Offer opportunities to make and spend money.  This will give them insight and help them learn how to count change, prioritizing wants, and truly understand that things come with a cost!

I hope you can take this extra time with your children to teach them some lifelong skills.  Check in with your OT for more suggestions on how to make your child more independent!


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