Lesson Ideas and Activities
Playground Equipment to Support Occupational Therapy for Dyspraxia
What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a specific type of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affecting the fine and or the gross motor skills in children and adults.
It is a physical learning difficulty where the overall intelligence isn’t impaired, but the individual with dyspraxia finds everyday tasks requiring muscle strength, balance and coordination challenging.
Daily jobs such as; dressing, brushing teeth and overall self-care are difficult to complete for these children. Skipping, hopping, jumping and running are also challenging for them.
Dyspraxia Symptoms in Children
To help children with dyspraxia early diagnosis and intervention is key. Some signs to look out for in children who could possibly have dyspraxia are;
- They might avoid taking part in playground activities, outdoor games and physical education (PE) lessons.
- They might be messy eaters and struggle to hold and use a knife and fork correctly.
- They might struggle to hold and use a pen/pencil.
- In older children, their handwriting might appear immature for their age.
- Difficulty with hopping, skipping, jumping and running due to poor balance and coordination.
- Poor organisational skills; they might find it challenging to complete tasks on time.
5 Activities for children with dyspraxia
Below we have highlighted some fun and effective ways to help children with dyspraxia to develop and build their gross motor skills:
1. Imaginative play
Make use of your Outdoor Performance Stage, this allows the children to benefit from the fresh air and open space. Give the child specific instructions such as; “let’s jump like a kangaroo” or “let’s hop like a bunny”.
The more these tasks are practised and the more the muscles are engaged and challenged the better the balance and coordination and overall muscle strength will improve over time.
Dancing is fun! So many muscle groups ae used during movement. You could use music or songs to practise and improve rhythm.
Structured dance routines could be used with varying levels of difficulty to suit the child’s overall needs, or alternatively you could allow the child to move freely and choose their own way of dancing.
If there is movement and the child is having fun and enjoyment and it isn’t laborious then they are more likely to want to participate.
Hopscotch is possibly one of the most easily accessible playground games, that is cost effective and simple to create and plays a great role and is very beneficial in building the gross motor skills in children.
You could use bright colours and a design to appeal to the visual strengths in children with dyspraxia. Initially you could make the game easier by asking the child to alternate between using one foot and two feet firmly on the ground.
As the child progresses you could alter the level of difficulty by changing the instructions you give them.
4. Balancing Acts
When it comes to balance and coordination, balancing acts can be challenging for all children irrespective of whether they have a physical condition. Dyspraxic children in particular might benefit from starting on flat ground with clear markings.
You could use your Daily Mile Track and ask the child to start with walking with one foot in front of the other.
As they get better at doing this, you could challenge them further by adding some level of elevation, remember safety is key so ensure that there are safe mats or safety surfacing available to minimise impact and ensure a softer landing.
5. Obstacle Courses
You could set up an outdoor obstacle course. They are so much fun and allows you to measure physical progress in these children.
You could vary your instructions to help the child to progress to each stage.
Trim Trails develop; balance, coordination, muscle strength, core stability and build gross motor skills.
At Pentagon Play we appreciate how important the development of gross motor skills is in all children. Contact Us for a free consultation and advice on the best playground equipment for your school’s educational needs.