For parents looking to enroll their children in occupational therapy, the experience of finding an affordable clinic can be extremely frustrating. In our research in the southern California region, 80% of Google-listed occupational therapy specialists are no longer in business, do not have working phone numbers, or didn't have availability in their office schedule for several months.
What is Occupational Therapy For Kids?
In occupational therapy sessions for kids, the focus is on developing skills and strategies to help them participate in daily activities, such as self-care tasks, play, and school-related tasks. The specific goals and activities will vary depending on the child's individual needs and interests, but here are some examples of what kids may work on in occupational therapy sessions:
Fine motor skills: This can include activities to improve hand strength and dexterity, such as grasping and releasing objects, drawing, cutting with scissors, and manipulating small objects.
Gross motor skills: This can include activities to improve overall movement and coordination, such as balance, coordination, jumping, and running.
Sensory processing: This can include activities to help children learn how to regulate and process sensory input, such as touch, sound, and movement, to help them participate in daily activities.
Self-care skills: This can include activities to help children learn and practice self-care tasks, such as dressing, grooming, and feeding themselves.
Social skills: This can include activities to help children learn and practice social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing, and communicating with others.
Attention and focus: This can include activities to help children improve their ability to sustain attention and focus on tasks, such as games that require sustained attention and concentration.
With a severe shortage of occupational therapists, many parents are turning to alternative solutions. If you're a parent searching for assistance in helping your child learn gross motor skills, social skills, and attention & focus, there may be a viable alternative in your neighborhood.
Parkour helps kids develop gross motor skills, build focus, and practice vital social skills.
Parkour is a favorite emerging sport among many kids and teens using a combination of running, jumping, climbing, and other movements. Parkour can also be a valuable tool for children's development. In this article, we will explore how the experience of a child learning parkour can potentially supplement going to occupational therapy for gross motor skills and social skills.
Disclaimer: The article is not claiming that parkour should or could be a complete replacement for occupational therapy. Speak with your family doctor to determine what's best for your family situation.
Gross Motor Skills Development & Parkour
Occupational therapy often includes activities to improve gross motor skills, which are the abilities required for large movements, such as walking, running, jumping, and climbing. Parkour, which involves many of these movements, can be an effective supplement to occupational therapy for gross motor skills development.
Within a safe learning environment, such as Freedom in Motion parkour gym, children learn how to balance across beams, vault over low obstacles, climb up walls, and tons of other fun & engaging Spiderman-like skills. These activities require the development of core strength, coordination, balance, and other skills that are important for gross motor skills development.
A huge advantage parkour has is that it's very fun. Kids have the experience of becoming a ninja as they learn the various parkour skills and watch their movement capabilities grow with every class.
Social Skills Development
Occupational therapy can also include activities to improve social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and teamwork. Parkour training at Freedom in Motion is packed with teamwork parkour challenges and rich social interactions with other classmates and the coaches themselves within every session.
During parkour training, children often work in groups to complete challenges and play movement games. Children are learning leadership skills from their coaches and encouraging one another as they overcome movement challenges in their weekly sessions. These daily interactions improve kids' social skills and self-confidence.
The positive and supportive environment at Freedom in Motion parkour gym can also help children who may struggle with social skills, such as shyness or anxiety, feel more comfortable and confident in a group setting. In certain situations, private lessons or small group sessions can further help children who need to begin in a setting with fewer other participants.
While occupational therapy is an essential tool for many children's development, parkour can be a valuable supplement for gross motor skills and social skills development. With its focus on movement, obstacle navigation, and teamwork, parkour provides a fun and engaging way for children to build the skills they need to thrive in all areas of their lives.
If you live near a parkour gym like Freedom in Motion give them a call and try a parkour session today! If you do not live near a parkour gym, you still have options. There are loads of parkour tutorials online which can be practiced at home or at a local playground. Here is a Youtube playlist of parkour tutorials by Freedom in Motion Parkour Gym.