When children come home from school, they may have a hard time regulating their bodies and need strategies to receive specific sensory input in order to prepare their minds and bodies for evening routines. Children have a lot of demands placed on them throughout the day at school and when they come home to their safe place you might witness meltdowns, out of character behaviors, unwillingness to complete homework or chores, etc. Their minds and bodies are exhausted from trying to hold it all together during the school day and they need opportunities to regulate themselves. Adults may experience the same thing after a long day at work. What are some go-to activities you participate in after work to calm your mind, prepare your body for the evening, and give yourself what you need in order to function for the remainder of the day? I know for me taking a walk outside or exercising and having a simple snack provides my body with the sensory input it needs to refocus. Below are some strategies that you can use to help your child regulate their bodies, refocus their minds, and set them up for success in the evenings.
Snack - snacks that are preferred and readily available when they get home. Snacks that are crunchy or chewy provide children with proprioceptive input to the jaw which is more calming for the body. Some examples include apples, celery with peanut butter, crackers, jerky, trail mix, smoothie through a straw, and frozen fruit.
Calm down corner - when creating this space it is best for it to be an enclosed space. This space should have dim lighting and you can even add twinkle lights, lamps, or some lighting fixture that is dim. Provide your child with weighted items to place on their lap. Include favorite books, fidgets, puzzles, sensory bins, or a coloring activity. Practice using this space and discuss when/why to use it before it is needed. Your child should only be in there for 10-15 minutes and utilize a visual timer if needed. After using the calm down space, provide them with a positive experience.
Visual Schedule - If you have a busy afternoon or evening, giving your child a visual schedule allows them to know what is coming and when breaks can happen. Include snacks on the go, prepare a sensory kit that has fidgets, headphones, weighted items, or other preferred items for them to participate in during errands/activities.
Movement - provide your child with opportunities for movement play that is child led such as riding a bike, jumping on the trampoline, playing with chalk outside, going to the playground, creating an indoor obstacle course, riding a scooter, jumping rope, etc.
Save your questions - waiting until dinner time to ask your child about their day provides them with some space and quiet time right after school.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful. If you have specific questions, would like to discuss this topic in further detail or are interested in occupational therapy services, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 740-218-4949.