If you're an occupational therapist struggling to keep kids engaged in online therapy, know that you're not alone. The pandemic and the digital shift in therapy practice was unexpected and challenging for everyone, children included. While the stress of staying indoors and not having free social contact can take its toll on children just as adults, children may experience and express their struggle very differently. Being overly needy, restless, tired, irritable, bossy, and low on concentration levels, and having sleep troubles are all classic symptoms of anxiety and stress in children. As per multiple reports, parents and teachers find it an uphill task to keep up with kids and get them to focus on learning. So, how can you, as a therapist, keep children engaged in your teletherapy sessions?
By choosing the right games for your little clients, you can simulate an in-person/face-to-face therapy atmosphere for children online as well. In this article, we provide a list of the most exciting games that will leave kids asking for more by the end of each session.
#1 Simon Says
This game can never get old! And it is a great way to improve the child's body awareness and motor skills such as balance and bilateral coordination. It also helps them learn body parts easily and improves their sequencing skills. In addition to teaching them the use of past tense verbs, Simon Says also helps the child practice giving and following instructions. Most importantly, the game is fun and can throw in some much needed giggles through the session.
#2 Minute to Win It
Not only are these games highly motivating, but they are also good for children's motor skills and high on the fun factor. You could ask the parent to keep a bowl of coins and a piggybank ready for the session and have the child insert coins into the piggybank. The more coins he can get into the piggybank in a minute, the merrier! Or set the timer for a minute and challenge him to stack up as many toy blocks as he can. These activities work on grasp strength, visual and gross motor skills.
#3 Rock Paper Scissors
This is an interesting game that is high on excitement and can help you build a positive rapport with the child. The game helps increase focus, fast thinking, and control of the mind. It also provides good exercise to hand joints and fingers.
#4 Timed physical exercises
Jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups and crawls are excellent choices for this activity. Set a timer, pick a random number from a hat or roll a dice and watch how the child performs. You could motivate the child with little digital stickers or maintain a leader board to keep it playful. This game can be a healthy way to start the session, and shake off inactivity and boredom.
When designing your online therapy sessions, ensure that you dedicate equal time between on-screen and off-screen activities. Start the session with the off-screen games listed above, as they can be great ice-breakers and can improve child compliance. You could then move on to on-screen activities that you had planned for your session.