Activities of Daily Living: Using Occupational Therapy to Embrace Challenges & Enhance Lives

April is National Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, and we are happy to celebrate along with our fellow practitioners and the incredible families we serve. The American Occupational Therapy Association’s theme this year is “Occupational Therapy: Embracing Challenges, Enhancing Lives,” which perfectly articulates what we do as occupational therapists.  

Therefore, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with some ideas on how to do precisely that – embrace the challenges of this unprecedented time through activities that will enhance your child’s life. 

Teach Independence Through Activities of Daily Living

Most parents are currently shouldering the responsibilities of working from home, homeschooling their children, and running the household. There is no better time than this to engage our children in learning how to be independent in activities of daily living (ADLs). Doing so will lead to a more significant contribution to your family. It also prepares children with the skills to function autonomously when it’s time for them to leave the nest. 

Five Activities of Daily Living to Begin the Journey 

These activities target the development of essential cognitive functions, engage children in gross motor activities, and increase fine motor capacity. In addition, you can adapt each task to your child’s age and abilities. So, let’s take a look!


Cooking provides children with an excellent opportunity to learn a plethora of skills in the kitchen, such as measuring ingredients or planning and cooking meals. The meals can be something simple like baking cookies or making pancakes to a four-course family dinner.

Here are the skills sets that cooking helps your child develop:

Cognitive​: measuring, planning, sequencing, time management, prioritization, metacognition, working memory, flexibility, attention, and perseverance.

Gross Motor​: trunk stability, agility, balance, proprioception, strength, and eye-hand coordination. 

Fine Motor​: bilateral coordination, grip strength, visual-motor control, joint mobility, and dexterity. 


Teach your children how to sort clothes, use the washer and dryer, hand wash, and fold clothes. If you want to take it to the next level, you can even teach your child to fold with joy using the Marie Kondo folding method. 

Here are the skills sets that doing laundry helps your child develop:

Cognitive: ​task initiation, sequencing, separation of like and unlike items, planning, goal-directed persistence, and organization.

Gross Motor: ​standing endurance, upper body strength and endurance, bilateral coordination, range of motion, balance, motor planning, lifting, and body awareness. 

Fine Motor: gross grasp and release, pincer grasp, hand strength (for handwashing). 


Teach children to sew on a button, hem pants, or mend a torn garment. These are skills some adults don’t even know!

Here are the skills sets that sewing helps your child develop:

Cognitive: ​visual-perceptual skills, sustained attention to task, flexibility, task, and self-monitoring, and processing speed.

Gross Motor: ​sitting endurance, core strength, reaction speed, and sensory-motor awareness and control. 

Fine Motor: ​bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, hand and wrist range of motion, hand strength and dexterity, development of the arches of the hand, webspace development. 

Money Management

This is an excellent opportunity to teach children about money. Young children can learn to count money and have jars for spending, saving, and donating. Older children can learn about budgeting, distinguishing needs from wants, learn to write and endorse checks, and reconcile a bank account. 

Here are the skills sets that learning about money helps your child develop:

Cognitive: ​math and problem-solving skills, visual/perceptual skills, future thinking, planning, prioritizing, flexibility, working memory, organization, attention to detail, and metacognition.

Gross Motor: sitting or standing balance, core strength, scapular strength and stability, range of motion, and endurance. 

Fine Motor: finger/hand range of motion, finger isolation, pincer grasp, in-hand manipulation, and bilateral coordination. 

House Cleaning

What parent wouldn’t like a little extra help with housework? Now is an opportune time to enlist the kids in some spring cleaning!  

Here are the skills sets that cleaning helps your child develop:

Cognitive: task initiation and perseverance, planning, prioritization, sequencing, stress reduction (when the house is clean, we feel better!), sustained attention, goal-directed persistence, and organization.

Gross Motor: ​ upper body range of motion, stabilization, strength, coordination, crossing midline, balance, motor planning, walking/standing/bending endurance, and stair climbing. 

Fine Motor: finger/hand range of motion, grip strength, and bilateral coordination. 

We hope you are all staying safe, healthy, and well throughout this crisis. And, that this helps create a new focus and enhances your lives through this pandemic and beyond. 

About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to children from birth to high school. We help children master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success, & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding, & executive function coaching. We also work with children on the building blocks of writing, social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies, sensory integration, early intervention, & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to succeed in learning and life. Learn more about our team & services at You also can contact our office by email at or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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