After School Relaxation


Happy back to school!

Although going back to school can be exciting, changes in routines, spaces, and familiar faces can be tough for many.

Many educational programs are now starting to provide movement throughout the day, it is important to keep in mind that many are still expected to remain in their seats, or still may not be getting the amount of movement and/or types of movement and input that they need during the school day. Kids do not always get the proper sensory input while in school and might have to work harder to stay in their seat and to behave and perform as expected. Giving children an opportunity to unwind and to get regulated in a positive way, it is important to set up a stable, fun, and relaxing after-school routine. Here are some ideas to help make an after-school relaxation routine:

  • Doing an activity before homework for a certain amount of time can help your child get regulated. After school some kids might need to move around for vestibular input and do heavy work like exercises for some proprioceptive input. Whereas some kids might be so tired from the day they might need some time to themselves or to do more low energy activities. 

    • Some activities to help your kids can include obstacle courses, yoga, building a fort, or even preferred exercises!

    • We love Coach Corey Martin for fun and engaging movement-based youtube videos, run by a gym teacher!

    • Consider something as simple as going for a walk or helping to prep for dinner.

  • As a parent you always want to know how your child’s day was but sometimes it might be better to wait till later like at dinner time to get all the information. It might be hard for them to put into words how their day was when all they want to do is move around. 

    • Keep talk, demands, and extraneous sensory input (loud sounds, bright lights, uncomfortable seating areas) light until they are ready.

  • Location is key. For most kids, home means play not work, so designating a special spot in the house for homework could help. This location should be in a spot they’re comfortable in but also so they have access to whatever materials they may need to complete their homework. 

    • Completing homework in a tent can help to reduce visual stimuli and the small space is comforting for some kids. Having a weighted blanket over their laps while sitting can help give input to keep them focused and on task. Before using a weighted blanket please consult your therapist.  

    • Consider putting on low frequency, rhythmic music (like drum circle beats or nature sounds)

    • When seated, feet should be flat on floor, hips should be at 90 degrees, and table should be at a comfortable height for your child to rest their elbows on.

    • May be worth looking into alternative seating options besides standing, having them lay on their belly, or under a weighted blanket. We love rocking chairs, wobble chairs, sitting on an exercise ball (as long as child is able to maintain safe, upright posture with adequate supervision), and even spinning computer chairs!

  • Give them more choices! You can still guide the choice, such as what type of choice you are giving (type of healthy snack, where they want to sit, what cup they use).

  • Incorporate oral motor input. Oral motor input uses the large muscles in the jaw and as a result, gives our bodies the wonderful and regulating effects of proprioceptive input! Encourage straws, chewy snacks (dried fruit, organic gum), icy snacks (organic and dye-free ice pops), crunchy snacks like apples or carrots, and mindful breath-work like balloon or box breathing, humming, singing, or even yelling into a pillow.

By Jenna Norris, OTS and Jill Clancy, MS OTR/L, CNS