by Sarah Collins – SPED Homeschool Partner, Colins Academy Therapy
Motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan, and carry out a new motor act. My favorite example is curling your hair with a new curling iron using a mirror. Upon first glance, it is somewhat disorienting. You have to consciously think about which way to move the arm, practice, and then can typically create a beautiful hairstyle. For some, this comes easily, but for others, it takes additional practice and deliberate, conscious planning.
Within the homeschool day, difficulties with motor planning can manifest themselves in many different ways. However, activities to address these skills can be fun and easy to incorporate. Here are my top four ways to incorporate these skills throughout the day.
Breakfast is a great time to start independent meal preparation. Place ingredients in easy-to-handle containers, like cereal in a small container with milk poured in a separate cup. This gives independence within a skill level. Cracking eggs using the correct amount of pressure or stirring without sloshing are two other areas we have encouraged independence by placing bowls within a sink or using huge bowls to whisk small amounts. As kids become more proficient, these safeguards are changed then removed.
Spending lots of time outside not only allows for nature study and other free play, but it encourages children to engage their bodies in a natural environment. They have to take risks to climb a tree, change their footing when going down a hill or when balancing on a rock. As parents and home educators, we often don’t want to let our children fall or fail. However, independently coming up with a movement, completing the movement, and then self-evaluating are all aspects of motor planning that require risk-taking and permission to fail.
Obstacle courses are another favorite of mine to encourage motor planning. Sometimes, I give specific ideas for the course while other times I tell them to make it up on their own.
Finally, here is a list of fantastic games that incorporate motor planning.
- 1. Simon Says
- 2. Robot Turtles
- 3. Kids Charades
- 4. Left Right Center
- 5. Jenga
Part of the reason that I love being an occupational therapist consulting with homeschoolers is that it allows me to explain my thinking behind what we do at home with our kids while influencing other families. Even during a global pandemic, it has allowed me to continue to combine both of my passions and keep my brain working!! Please contact Collins Academy Therapy Services for a personal consultation about incorporating these strategies into your homeschool.
This was originally published on Sarah’s website as Motor Planning Strategies in the Homeschool.