We’re all back in the swing on school after a nice holiday break off! With the transition back to school comes a shift in priorities, back to classes and schoolwork, and we know all you want to do is set your child up for success in the new year! Many kids have trouble keeping their posture upright throughout the day, and good, supported posture is one of the key elements leading to good focus while in school. Though you might not be able to do much about this while they are in person, you can adapt their environment to support them while they are remote learning. Here are some things to look for and tips to get you started:

  1. When nice posture turns into not so nice posture
    1. If you see your child starting the day with nice posture but then see their spine taking on a C curvature throughout the day, they may be having a difficult time sustaining activation of their postural musculature and they may have trouble with ENDURANCE of these muscles. If this is the case, try placing a small towel roll behind their lower back for additional support when you see them starting to get tired. Then, when some time has passed, you can try removing it and seeing if their muscles have gotten the rest break they needed to work efficiently again!
  2. When nice posture is hard to find
    1. If you see that finding a nice, supported spine with good posture is hard for your child to figure out, they may have trouble ACTIVATING their postural musculature. This may be the case if when you have told your child “sit with nice posture” in the past, they assume a Military-esque posture that would be impossible and uncomfortable for anyone to maintain OR they simply can’t find that upright position you’ve seen in blogs and pictures. Often these kids have a pelvis that is tipped very far back and pushed away from the back of their chair. Try placing a small wedge under their pelvis, with the taller end close to the back of the chair and the shorter end toward the front of the chair. This wedge will help place them in a more appropriate position to learn how to activate their musculature, so that when you ask them to try “good posture” again, it isn’t such a big ask. 
  3. When they find many different slouched positions
    1. For the child that seems to never sit still but also never sit with supported posture, using a balance disk under their bottom is a great tool to encourage activation of postural musculature on both the front and back sides of their body. Sitting on a balance disk creates the need for the body to sit with active, supported posture to stay upright and on balance. If you are trying this, don’t forget to test it out with supervision to make sure that your child can stay on balance while sitting on the disk so that they do not fall out of their chair.
  4. Make sure they are supported by the floor
    1. This one is SO important. Many people don’t know how difficult it is to sit with supported posture if your feet are not flat on the ground. Using the ground can help activate your whole body from the feet upward and creates more stability in sitting because you are not just relying on your bottom to keep you upright (but your legs too)! A nice clue to look for to see if they are supported from the ground up is the presence of 90 degree angles at their ankles, knees, and hips, if you see these angles AND they are sitting upright, you are good to go!

Remember, it is hard for anyone to focus when they are having trouble staying on balance or trouble activating their muscles for the long virtual school day. But, with these tips you can have your child on the path to postural support while learning in no time! You got this parents!

If you liked these tips or want to watch the video for this post, click here:

Stressed about the challenges the new year will pose for your child with learning new skills and reaching new goals? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. Here at KidPT, we’re here to help your child to reach and exceed their potential. Just like we use every tool at our disposal to help our kiddos become successful here in the clinic, we believe parents should be empowered to do the same at home! To help you to help your child on their path toward success, we’ve written down some helpful hacks and philosophies that we use in our PT sessions every day that you can start to implement at home: 

  1. Provide positive feedback for a job well done
    1. When you see your child is particularly good at something, or if you see them improving in an area they were previously less confident in, make sure to give them lots of positive reinforcement. This will help build their confidence! Confidence is a key driver to give them the agency to push themselves further and continue to reach new heights.
  2. Make sure feedback is specific
    1. For any feedback, whether it be positive or constructive, make sure you are letting your child know WHAT part of the task you are complimenting or wishing to tweak. A generic “Good Job” doesn’t give them the information they need to repeat the good thing they did or to adapt areas where they need more growth. A good example of specific feedback is “Nice job walking up the stairs using only one hand”, because you are telling them exactly what about the task they just did that you thought was stupendous, and then they know to do it again next time!
  3. Try breaking down challenging tasks
    1. For any task that is hard for your child, try breaking down the task and attempting to introduce small parts of it rather than having them try to achieve the whole task on their first go. Then continue to add on small parts until they have built up to the whole task. This concept is called “scaffolding” or “forward chaining” and is used by many teachers and therapists alike to set up a framework for new tasks to make them more attainable. Start with a part of the task the child has down, and build on that piece. If trying this with your child, make sure you demonstrate the whole task first, so they know what they are working toward. If you are not quite sure how to break down a certain task for success, ask your physical therapist where you should start, and we’ll be able to guide this process!
  4. Remember, everyone is different, and that is GOOD!
    1. Every single person on this earth is very different from the next, and that’s how the world was meant to be! Each individual person brings something new and diverse to the table, and this is how the world learns and grows. Your child’s strengths enhance this world and though they might have room to grow in other areas, so does the rest of the world!
  5. Breathe, you got this! 
    1. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself and to affirm to yourself that everything is going to be okay. Just by taking the time to be informed you are taking steps to supporting your child, and that is what is important.

You’ve got this, and so does your child, and together you can be a confidence boosting TEAM!

Happy New Year! We all know what ringing in the new year means, new goals and shiny aspirations! We all hope that with the shift into a new year, we will be able to do things we haven’t done before, reach new heights, and achieve our dreams. With all of our heads in the clouds, we also have to remember that 2020 was a difficult year for everyone and that even though 2021 is a new year, we should cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves more time to work toward our goals along with time to destress. We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves, and we don’t want our kids to do this either. For them the new year means a new semester and new topics at school, and they can feel just as much stress from this shift as we adults can! Here are four ways that you and your child can destress and center yourselves with movement for a more successful and calm transition to the new year:

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing – This activity can be helpful for anyone, of any age! Just lie on the ground or sit in a chair. Place one hand on your belly and make sure you are “belly breathing”, aka, make sure you can feel your tummy moving up and down every time you breathe. This way you know you are doing it correctly. You can stack your breathing by counting up to five, then down to five. Repeat the counting process about ten times to allow the body time to relax, the heart rate to slow down, and the nervous system to slow down with it!
  1. Heavy work activities – this one gives the body a sense of where it is, which works especially well for the kids who seem to physically be in one million places at once, touching everything, bouncing and jumping around, and having difficulty focusing on one task at a time. Heavy work activities can be done by pushing or pulling a loaded wheel barrow, carrying a full laundry basket, or helping stack heavy cans onto low shelves. (PS this is also a great way to get your child to help out with chores as well – its a win win!)
  1. Make the “Bubble” – This game uses similar principles as heavy work, and turns it into something fun and interactive you and your child can do together! First, have your child hold their hands in front of them with their palms facing each other. Then you put your hands on the outside of their hands with your palms touching the backs of their hands. Tell them to push out into your hands as hard as they can, and meet the resistance they are giving you (aka give them as much force as they are giving you). Count to 60 together while pushing with force, then slowly release their hands. Tell them to now slowly move their hands apart and together, but don’t change their hand position or let them touch their hands to each other. While they move their hands in and out slowly, it will feel like they are making a large bubble bigger and smaller right between their hands! When they’re ready to be finished with the bubble, tell them to POP it by clapping their hands together!
  1. Slow Rocking on an exercise ball – this activity uses the vestibular system (the little system of tubes and fluid in your ears that helps with balance, sensing the body in space, and understanding movement of the body through space). Lie on an exercise ball with the belly downward. The hands will touch the ground with every forward movement. Make sure the rocking is SLOW, if the rocking is too quick, it may have the opposite effect!

If you tried any of these strategies or if you would like more tips on how to stay calm and focused in the new year, email us at info@kidpt.com or message us on instagram @kidpt or facebook @kidptnj.

Are you ready for the ultimate New Year’s Countdown? Get ready to wiggle, jump, spin, and roll into the new year with these 10 awesome moves! For easier following along, click the link to the video at the bottom of this post 

10. Ball Drop Jumps – To do these jumps, bring both knees into your chest while jumping into the air. Then land with both feet on the ground (compare to cannon ball jumps). Now you are looking like the sparkliest, shiniest new years ball ever!

9. (Virtually) Calling Friends and Family – Stand with your feet out wide, lean into one knee, and waive your hand or make a “telephone hand” and bring it up to your ear to call friends and family to wish them a Happy New Year! Repeat this 9 times total, leaning to opposite sides each time to calling 9 important people in your life! 

8. Rising Apple Cider Bubbles – For this sweet move, crouch down until you are in a small ball close to the ground, with your hands touching the ground. Slowly wiggle your fingers and rise up until youre all the way on your tippy toes with your wiggly fingers in the air! Now you know what if feels like to be the bubbles in your Sparking Apple Cider! Repeat this one 8 times!

7. Confetti Squiggle Jumps – Jump in the air and wiggle your arms every which way to pretend you are kooky confetti, floating in all directions as it flies through the air

6. Clock Jumps – Point one toe forward to 12 o’clock on an imaginary clock on the floor. Then jump with your toe pointed to 1 o’clock, then 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and so on until you have jumped with one foot around the ENTIRE clock! Repeat with the other foot.

5. Logs on the fire – Start a warm fire by lying down on the ground on your back and roll to your tummy. Then roll to your back! To make it extra hard, try to not let your arms and legs touch the ground! Repeat this 5 more times (3 times to each side), to imagine yourself as your favorite new years treat!

4. Firework Jumping Jacks – Crack, pop, and sizzle as you do 4 jumping jacks and show off all your new years colors!

3. Globe Spins – Did you know that every time we celebrate a new year, the Earth has completed one full trip around the Sun? And every year, it takes 365 days for the Earth to complete this trip. Each day, the earth spins around one time! SO, as we spend the last days of 2020, thinking about 2021, the Earth is finishing its final spins for the year! Do 3 spins like the Earth does every day!

2. New Years Hugs – You’ve almost made it to 2021, give yourself two BIG hugs to show some appreciation to yourself for all the hard work you have done this year before the new year!

1. New Year Hooray Jumps – Do one star jump, where your legs and arms all jump outward at the same time. When you land, bring them back together. Don’t forget to shout “Hooray!”
Want to show us your New Year’s Countdown? Send us clips of you jumping your way through these moves! Email us at admin@kidpt.com or message us on Instagram or Facebook @kidPT and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Many schools are going virtual until after the holidays, and we know what that means… more screen time. We’ve heard a pattern: many parents feel like it is hard for their child to stay engaged in their classroom activities when they are learning through a screen all day, and we hear ya, who wants to stare at a computer screen ALL DAY? Humans thrive through in person experiences, where they get to use every one of their senses, and this especially includes little humans!

Children are learning a high volume of information every day to make sense of their world and their ever changing environments. One great way to supply them with a lot of valuable information for learning and moving is to take them outside. Time outside will give them a break from the screen time and will give them the freedom and space to stretch their legs so they can move! Research says that kids can benefit from being outside for more than just a little fresh air, here are three of the amazing benefits of letting your kids immerse themselves in their outdoor world:

  1. Increased activity level: When kids are outside, they have so much SPACE to get their energy out! Many will want to jump, run, and move all around to explore their new and unfamiliar surroundings. This free exploration will let them work on those essential gross motor skills in a new and novel way. Maybe they want to jump in a pile of leaves, try to climb a tree, or run up and down a grassy hill (safely and with supervision of course)!
  1. Opportunity for new sensory stimulation: There are so many fun textures, colors, smells, and sounds at the park, in the woods, or at the beach. Playing in any of these places can be turned into a science exploration where kids can learn about why some leaves are waxy and some are soft while feeling it first hand, seeing what the little hairs on leaves look like and how tall they are, and hearing the sound from their fingers brushing a soft leaf compared to a waxy one. There are so many possibilities for learning in a sensorially engaging way!
  1. Reduces stress levels and improves attention: A walk in the park or a hike CAN boost your child’s attention, and this has been seen in both neurotypical children and children with ADHD. Even a short walk can do it, researchers discovered that as little as 20 minutes in the park significantly improved attention and cognitive performance (Faber Taylor & Kuo, 2009). Kids have also been seen to associate nature with words such as “calming” and “relaxing” when participating in programs requiring outdoor time (Chawla, Keena, Pevec, & Stanley, 2014).

We hope your family gets to spend some quality outdoor time this fall! We’d love to see pictures of you playing and having a blast out there, so tag @kidpt on Facebook or Instagram or email admin@kidpt.com of you getting your fresh air on!! Stay tuned next week for outdoor distanced activities to keep your kids entertained and moving with their friends in a safe way.

References: 

Faber Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (2009). Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park. Journal of Attention Disorders, 12(5), 402–409. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054708323000

Louise Chawla, Kelly Keena, Illène Pevec, Emily Stanley. Green schoolyards as havens from stress and resources for resilience in childhood and adolescence. Health & Place, 2014; 28: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.03.001

We hope everyone had a very happy and safe thanksgiving, with lots of yummy food! One thing Thanksgiving always gets us thinking about is the holiday season and shopping for the best gifts that the kiddos in our lives will smile when opening!

Now, there are many kids these days who love screen time, video games, and everything electronic. Sometimes we hear parents saying “He loves the iPad” which is often followed with a statement about how worried they are that their child’s screen time is causing them to be less physically active and less interested in activities involving movement. First thing is first, if you’re reading this and nodding along, don’t worry, you are not alone! We are now in the technological age, and it is next to impossible to avoid screens. While it is important to limit screen time for a child who wants to use them 24/7, we can also use screens for movement!

Games involving screens are often very engaging, they involve a story line or a progression, many involve reaching goals and checkpoints, and usually very colorful. Studies show that when a child is engaged in an activity, their whole brain lights up, meaning their whole brain is being used and worked to complete a task and not just a small part of the brain. This means they are getting more out of the activity they are doing and making many connections in the brain! 

So, if you want to engage your video game lover in an activity that will keep their attention but also will make them move, try a game that combines movement with a screen. Don’t get us wrong, screens ALL the time is not what we are advocating for here, but using something your child loves to make movement seem more valuable to them might save you a few headaches here and there.

Here is a list of games that your little gamer is sure to love:

  1. Ring Fit Adventure on the Nintendo Switch: If you have a Switch, Ring Fit is an amazing game that makes the player use a pilates ring to strengthen their arms and legs while also squatting, running in place, and performing other great strengthening movements. It also does all of this while either taking the player through a virtual adventure or letting them play many mini games that rank score and performance! 

Find out more here: https://ringfitadventure.nintendo.com/

  1. BoBo balance disk on the Ipad: The Bobo uses a wobbly balance disk and pairs with the ipad to show the player what their feet are doing in a variety of fun games that challenge balance on two feet or one foot! Use the discount Bobo30 at checkout for 30% off!

Find out more here: https://bobo-balance.com/

  1. Just Dance: This is a great game that has been around for a while and is so lively and fun. Multiple players can dance at a time, and it uses current pop music to get every member of the family moving and grooving! It is compatible with many different types of game systems, including the Switch, Wii, Xbox360, Xbox One, and newer versions of playstation.

Find out more here: https://www.ubisoft.com/en-us/game/just-dance/2021

  1. Arms: Arms is a futuristic boxing game made for Nintendo Switch that has players boxing with very colorful and creative characters, and though it was not originally designed as a fitness game, it will make each player work! Tip for this one, kids who know how to switch the controls to let them play without physically boxing might do so, so watch out for this and encourage them to play standing to get them working.

Find out more here: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/arms-switch/

  1. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved: This is a game that would be perfect for any music or disney lover who is a little bit on the older end. The player controls or conducts music with their hand motions, and this music includes pop and classical symphonies. This game is great for coordination of hand and arm movement and is compatible with Xbox360 or XboxOne

Find out more here: https://www.amazon.com/Disney-Fantasia-Music-Evolved-Xbox-One/dp/B00KVLPNL4

  1. Beat Sabre: If your child is SUPER techy and you are planning on buying something like a virtual reality system as a holiday gift, then this game is a perfect addition that will keep your child moving while they figure out all of that new tech! This game has the player slicing through different shapes to a particular beat, with many directional changes and varied difficulties. The combination of music, movement, and changes in direction are great for working on coordination of the whole body while having a blast!

Find out more here: https://beatsaber.com/

  1. Pokemon GO: Pokemon GO is a free app your child can download onto apple devices that requires them to walk around and explore the great outdoors to find Pokemon, grow and hatch eggs, and battle with other players. Time outdoors has been shown to improve attention and decrease stress level. It is definitely smart to supervise younger children while they are out and about playing this one, because you never know where a pokemon is going to turn up, and you want to make sure they’re being safe at all times!

Find out more here: https://www.pokemongo.com/en-us/

  1. Just Dance Now: This app pairs a phone with an internet connected device, like a computer, and uses the phone as a handheld controller to sense the players’ dance moves. This game, like other Just Dance platforms, is dancing fun for the whole family, and you can use devices you already own to play it!

Find out more here: https://justdancenow.com/

  1. Zombies, Run! This game inspires players to KEEP RUNNING as they are the lead in a zombie narrative, and are trying to stay alive! This game is great for any child who loves adventure and is most appropriate for children who are 12 years old and older due to content and activity level.

Find out more here: https://zombiesrungame.com/

  1. GoNoodle: Go noodle is a database of movement videos and activities that are designed for fun movement that works the brain AND the body and are used within many Kindergarten to 5th grade classroom environments as brain breaks. Parents can create an account that has a “Champ”, an avatar that grows as children earn points through completing activities, which helps with long term engagement too! 

Find out more here: https://www.gonoodle.com/

Have fun moving together and if you find more movement games please share them with the Kid PT community!

by Dr. Ali

Happy November! When we think of November, we always think of good food and family fun! But with November usually comes a changing season and decreasing temperatures too! We understand how tricky it is to be a parent during these hard and strange times, and one concern we often hear, especially now, is “How do I keep my child moving now that the weather is getting colder and they can’t play outside?” 

Have no fear! There are plenty of great activities your child can do to keep moving if you have to stay indoors, even if you don’t have a ton of space to work with! Below is one activity that you can set up for your child that is festive, can be done completely inside on a chilly day, and will keep them working toward achieving a final goal.

  1. Color The Turkey
    1. Find a turkey of your choice and print out a blank copy so your child can color it and make it their own! You can also try the dot to dot below! Attach it to another piece of paper or construction paper (you’ll see why later)
  2. Feather Scavenger Hunt
    1. Place feathers all around your house, in both high and low places, under buckets or bins, and anywhere in between! This way, when they’re seeking out the hidden feathers, they are doing many squats to get to low feathers, and rising up on their tiptoes to get to high feathers. These are two motions that are great for strength building and balance.
  3. Pin the Feathers on the Turkey
    1. Have your child stand next to a wall with one arm above their head touching the wall. Tape the turkey to the spot where their fingers touch the wall. Next attach tape or glue dots to a wider part of the feather. Tell your child to JUMP with the feather in their hand, to stick it onto their turkey, wherever they want to! They may need some help getting the feather to stick but the jumping is the important part here, so give them an extra sticky hand if they need it.
  4. Do a turkey dance!
    1. Finally, with their beautiful turkey constructed, do a turkey dance (aka a chicken dance) and start marching your legs and flapping your wings just like a turkey!

We’d love to see your turkeys AND your turkey dances! If you would like to share, tag us or message us @kidpt on Instagram or @kidptnj on Facebook. Gobble Gobble!

This week’s workout theme is a Push Up Power!

Try out these three moves and see if you can create a few more of your own!

Movement is always fun, but to build better control we need to keep our awareness on the quality of our movement.

Can we move slow and fast? Can we talk at the same time so we know we’re taking deep breaths? Can we keep good timing and sequencing as we go and not just at the beginning?

With our awareness ready, let’s go!

First, let’s try push ups in a way that we can control keeping our body’s in a strong straight line by doing wall push-ups.

Next, let’s try to hold a plank position. Not just any plank though- let’s put our feet on the couch and our hands on the floor and hold it here.

Last, let’s try some ABC shoulder taps!

Remember, if any of these positions are too hard to do with good QUALITY, move to a more upright position. Over time you can make it more challenging.

Come back next week to try out our next Wednesday workout! Have fun! Dr. Joni

This week’s workout theme is a Jumping Jacks Journey!

Try out these three moves and see if you can create a few more of your own!

Movement is always fun, but to build better control we need to keep our awareness on the quality of our movement. Can we move slow and fast? Can we talk at the same time so we know we’re taking deep breaths? Can we keep good timing and sequencing as we go and not just at the beginning?

With our awareness ready, let’s go!

First, let’s move both arms up overhead and back down to our legs. Clap at the top and bottom to make an auditory cue.

Repeat to the letters of the alphabet, count to 10 or 20, or try to match the beat to a metronome (check out free metronome apps).

Next, let’s jump with legs open. Jump slowly. Jump open and freeze. Jump close and freeze. Make each jump a separate movement.

Now its time to put arms and legs together! Keep it slow still. Jump open and arms up- FREEZE! Jump close and arms down- FREEZE!

Once this is mastered, its time to speed it up!

Once Jumping Jacks are mastered, mix it up! Scissor jumps, X jumps, and side ski jumps are great varieties!

Come back next week to try out our next Wednesday workout!

Have fun!

Dr. Joni

This week’s workout theme is Father’s Day! Why not celebrate Dads all week long??!!

Try out these three moves and see if you can create a few more of your own!

Movement is always fun, but to build better control we need to keep our awareness on the quality of our movement. Can we move slow and fast? Can we talk at the same time so we know we’re taking deep breaths? Can we hold the positions with the body lined up strong and stable?

With our awareness ready, let’s go!

First, let’s hold eachother’s hands. Can you lift one foot and hold it? You can try holding 2 hands and leaning back too!

Next, have Dad get into the Downward Dog position! How many times can the child crawl under, run around to the start, and climb under again! Let’s really challenge Dad with this one!

Finally, its time to fly! There are many fun ways to do this, from piggyback rides to holding the child and zooming around the house. My favorite way is for Dad to lie on his back his his hands and feet up. Dad puts his feet on the child’s belly, holds the child’s hands, and lifts them up! This is so much fun, just be careful. Be sure there is nothing nearby the child can fall on and only go as high as you can control.

Repeat the routine 5 times for a fun and fit movement adventure!

Come back next week to try out our next Wednesday workout!

Have fun!

Dr. Joni