We are in the middle of our 3rd 6 week session for the movement group we have been doing called Motor Smart Kids! Groups are not something we do a lot of in our practice but we started it mainly because we thought it would be a fun way to work on gross motor skills while enhancing social skills. We have had some of the same kids in the groups and we have had some add on and some drop off. We have kiddos who are really vocal and verbal and others who don’t talk as much or need lots of prompting. We have kids who can walk independently and others who use an assistive device to walk but is working on independent walking. The kids are approximately around the same age (4-7). We keep it small and we switch it up a bit but we try to keep some routines consistent. I have talked about some of the games we play in the groups in my first and second post on New Twists on Old Favorites. Because of the varied skill level or the things we have wanted to work on we adapted several games to focus more on certain skills. I just thought that I would take a moment and talk about some of things that I have noticed with regards to the group sessions:
- The kids love to come, they think they are playing and don’t think of it as therapy even though they are working on similar skills to those in therapy.
- In the beginning it was easier to keep their attention if we did activities that involved songs and ‘dancing’ as opposed to ‘sports’ games. As the session continues we are able to add in more and more other games and decrease the music activities although when a new kiddo joins we find we go back to more music activities.
- The kids are interacting with each other more and parents have said that outside of group the kids are using names when addressing other kids or people such as ‘hi (name)’ instead of just ‘hi’. I think this is because with almost all of the games we have them call one of the other kids names. For example, when playing catch, you have to say the name of the kid you are throwing to. We also do high fives after most activities and make sure they high five each kid and say ‘good job (name)’.
- We see some of the kiddos for regular one on one therapy and I’ve found that their ability to follow directions has vastly improved.
- In addition some of the skills that we do in group are not skills we do in one on one therapy and yet they have become immensely better at those skills such as duck walking and frog jumping.
- The kids all rush to help each other out. We have them bring the canes back to the boy who uses them and at the end its a rush to see who can get to them first and bring them back to him.
- They love the group high five that we did. We are even getting better at the coordination and timing of it so that it actually looks like a group high five.
- For games like Red Rover or Mother May I when we have them practice a skill as they move across the room, we have one of the other kiddos calling out what they need to do and its great to watch them come up with activities for each kiddo to do such as hopping, skipping, jumping, running, bear walking or just plain walking. They are initiating so much more.
- They each have their favorite activities and love to request them. And if we happen to skip an activity they really like we hear about it that its been ‘forever’ since we did that activity.
- Its amazing how much kids love to get a sticker!
- The motivation is great, they remind their parents that its group day.
I never expected group to be so much fun and so rewarding but we have seen so many unexpected changes in the kiddos that come all from 45 minutes a week of playing with their peers! What kind of groups do you guys do? What are your favorite parts? What are the unexpected benefits you see from groups?