Pointers for a Perfect Passover from Gateways’ Special Educators, Therapists and Specialists
1. Preview. Show-and-tell a social story, a customized children’s picture book designed to prepare the child for the seder experience, reducing the chances of being overwhelmed.
2. Pre-feed. Make sure the kids eat before the seder–preferably a protein and complex carbohydrate, nothing sugary. This will extend their patience (especially since many pre-meal traditions–horseradish, charoset and gefilte fish–are not always kid-pleasers.)
3. Program. Whether in words or pictures–or both–the child should have a schedule of the seder to refer to. That way, even if they can’t read the Hagaddah, they enjoy the confidence boost of being able to follow along, alone or with your help. (Click here for Gateways’ printer-friendly illustrated seder schedule.)
4. Plant the Feet. Make sure a child’s chair allows them to touch the floor (or a steady chair rung) to ensure support, balance and longer sitting tolerance. Try to create 90 degrees at the ankles, knees and hips, for sitting squarely at the table.
5. Prevent. Heavy silverware might prove difficult for children with grip challenges to manage, and tall glasses or wine cups are spills waiting to happen. Make sure there’s child-sized flat wear and a Passover sippy cup (why not decorate?).
6. Participate. Having an important role, such as carrying the towel around while everyone washes, provides movement breaks and a purpose in what can otherwise seem a grown-up occasion. Another important job: “taking care” of Baby Moses: a doll wrapped in a blanket in a woven basket awaiting rescue from the Nile.
7. Plague Play. The ever-popular plagues bag can add fun to any seder. But fine motor difficulties can make tiny toys frustrating. Check out the plague finger puppets on the market, make your own with old socks or set up a magnetic or Velcro board with plague symbols the children can attach. (Click here for printer-friendly plague symbols.)