5 Sensory Tips for Parents

Posted by Britt Collins M.S. OTR/L on Jul 5th 2022

With your child going back to school, your child may be experiencing anxiety, stress, excitement, nervous feelings and more. You may also be experiencing those same feelings. Here are some sensory tips for back to school for kids.

  • Prepare your child ahead of time about being in a new school or new classroom. Tour the classroom ahead of time and meet the teacher if possible. Write a social story about going back to school and add real pictures of the school classroom, the bus, friends that your child has, activities that they will be participating in like recess, reading, lunch etc.
  • Give the teacher information about your child’s specific sensory needs (i.e. Sam needs sensory breaks every 20-30 minutes which include jumping jacks, heavy lap weights, fidget toys and bouncing on a therapy ball)
  • When your child comes home from school, make sure you give them a break. Maybe have a snack and some quiet time if needed, or maybe they need to blow off some energy. Provide them an appropriate outlet to do that. Play outside, jump on the trampoline, create an obstacle course in your living room with a tunnel, bean bag chair, hopping over toys and pushing the laundry basket full of toys down the hall for calming heavy work. Maybe they need to relax with a good book, or take a cat nap depending on their age. You should not immediately put strong demands or require them to do homework right after they get home from school.
  • Other general sensory strategies can include; making sure your child’s sensory needs are met. If they are a sensory craver (they seek out a lot of sensation) give them deep pressure, massages, give them opportunities to swing, jump, climb to help organize their sensory systems. Don’t overload them and watch for signs of getting too hyperactive. If they are over-responsive to sensory input (they avoid swings, don’t like to touch sticky or gooey, get scared with movement or touch etc) slowly introduce them to various sensory input. Slowly have them swing in your lap, play with various media like cornstarch and water, or moon sand. If they are under-responsive (they are hard to motivate, like couch potatoes) try to engage them in something they like, besides video games and TV. Have them create something, build something, get them outside riding a bike. ALWAYS consult your occupational therapist to know what type of sensory kid your child is before using the above suggestions.

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