By Jennie Marble, M.A., CCC-SLP, Assistant Director of Integrated Pediatric Therapies at JCFS Chicago
The swimming pool is not only a great place to have fun with your kids, but it is also a great environment to increase attention and build cognitive language skills and body strength.
Aquatic therapy is often recommended for children with coordination problems, and for children who have too much or too little muscle tone, cannot properly plan and sequence speech sound movements, or who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy –a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture.
The properties of the water allow the body to be supported differently, helping a child's muscles relax, strengthen and move with more fluidity in order to work on feeding skills, articulation, language development, walking, sitting and playing.
Pool Activities That Encourage Skill Development
- Have your child ride a pool noodle like a horse, providing as much support as needed for your child to stay safe. Sing songs or have races as you gallop around the pool.
- Play pool hockey.
- Lift noodles, up, down and all around to build arm, grip and core strength.
- Use a beach ball, or even one with a little more weight, to play catch. Count each catch as you work on hand-eye coordination. Try playing “I’m thinking of...” games between each catch where one person gives descriptive clues and the other tries to guess what you’re thinking of.
- Play basketball in the pool.
- Have your child sit on a large mat as you float around the pool. Sit and lay in different positions while playing with toys or using window gel stickers to play a game.
Use the Water Around You
- Walk, run and jump through the water at different depths. This provides sensory stimulation while building body strength.
- Scavenger hunt your way around the pool to incorporate language skills.
- Hold your child around their chest and slowly dance back and forth in the water together.
- For more advanced swimmers, have contests such as treading water or kick board races.
Our pediatric experts use individualized, cutting-edge therapies, family-based play, therapeutic play groups and more. Contact Integrated Pediatric Therapies at 847.412.4379 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.