An Inside Look: EXPLORE Pediatric Therapy

Out of the clinic and into the outdoors!

By Kimberly DeLaura, MS, OTR/L May 4, 2022

Meet EXPLORE Pediatric Therapy

EXPLORE Pediatric Therapy (EPT) is a private nature-based occupational therapy practice located in

Duxbury, Massachusetts. Providing play groups in a nature-based setting for children ages 3-10 years old, we believe whole heartedly in connecting kids to nature with their peers. Founded by occupational

therapist Kimberly DeLaura, M.S., OTR/L, with the goal to re-connect kids to free play in nature, and

have fun doing so with their peers, while gaining new skills and confidence along the way. We serve all

towns in the South Shore of Massachusetts.

Our Why-

Children still need a childhood full of dirt, puddles, sticks, and mud. EXPLORE Pediatric Therapy was

founded based on over 10 years of working with children in a variety of settings, seeing the need for them to connect to each other and the outdoors more. The pandemic then isolated children during some of the

most critical developing and formative years, putting them at a greater risk for developmental delays and

social isolation.

This generation of children spends the least amount of time outdoors, and the consequences are

astounding with the pandemic further exacerbating this issue. From higher levels of stress, increasing

motor + speech delays to social-emotional difficulties to attention-deficit disorders, time outdoors is

scientifically proven to help combat all of this and more. Childhood is meant to be a messy adventure,

with hours spent outdoors. It fuels creativity, independent thinking, and a sense of fulfilment.  

Why Nature?

EXPLORE Pediatric Therapy brings traditional pediatric occupational therapy services into the great

outdoors. Instead of working in a “clinic space”, we work in a “green space” or “blue space”. Such as in

the woods, out in a field, or amongst ponds and streams. We use loose parts and natural resources for our

intervention. Research overwhelmingly supports the healing benefits of being immersed in nature. It is the missing ingredient for many children today to help prevent childhood burnout! Outdoor experiences are

essential for childhood development, yet the opportunities for unrestricted and safe, child-led play are


Plus, we find that our multi-modal therapeutic interventions are more easily carried out at home using

mother nature. Because the South Shore is full of nature trails and spaces, most parents and families can

integrate home programs for carryover of skills to achieve therapeutic goals while out on a weekend trail

hike. Our recommendations can even be done in your own backyard!

What does nature-based occupational therapy provide your child?

I like to give an example that is relatable for adults. You know that feeling you get when you are sitting

somewhere tropical or warm, staring out at a big open bright blue ocean? Or when you are in the

mountains, looking up at a sky full of stars? This feeling of peace and calm, while also stimulating all

your senses and sense of wonder. That is the feeling we try to highlight in our groups. Emphasis on nature

connectedness does just that.

Here are a few other important takeaways about nature connectedness from current research:

-Improve health and wellness by increasing vitamin D levels, reduce nearsightedness, reduce risk of

childhood obesity while increasing physical activity, reduce stress, anger, and aggressive behavior.

-Better academic outcomes. Spending time in nature can help children focus their attention, and decrease ADHD symptoms, increase engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Regular consistent time spent in

nature in the early years of life (0-5) enhances school readiness including learning, language and

cognitive development, and enhanced play that helps prepare children for school.

-Improve family function and dynamic by connecting families with nature is shown to decrease stress

within the family unit, foster parent-child communication, increase emotional bonding

- Learning opportunities in nature are more parallel for children with developmental disabilities or delays.

What is Occupational Therapy?

It is the profession of “functional independence.” Occupational therapists are highly skilled healthcare

professionals in lifespan development, neuroscience, activity analysis, therapeutic use of self, psychology

and more. Occupational therapists perform holistic assessments or evaluations of your child, identify

current barriers, and collaborate with the caregivers on goals. We then create a therapeutic

intervention based on theoretical frameworks and evidence-based research to achieve those goals.

Why the group setting?

Children are naturally born scientists and explorers. It is how they learn. Building relationships and

connections with peers is at the core of everything we do. When we’re working with children, we put our

attention into building the trust and sense of safety kids need to learn. In our therapy playgroups, kids

build relationships and practice social interactions in real-life situations. They need each other to learn

organically. When children are motivated to learn through play, nothing can stop them! Put simply, play

allows your child to use their strengths and find the courage to work through challenges with confidence.

We call this risk-taking, and it is vital to learning about safety awareness, self-regulation and emotional

control as children develop.

Bonus Tip – 4 Ways to Inspire Outdoor Play in Your Own Backyard

1. Set up a picnic blanket and bring a meal outside. Allow your child to flow seamlessly between

eating and play.

2. Directly tell your child, “It is okay to get messy and dirty.”

3. Define a space that your child can dig freely, with a real shovel.

4. Invite your child to bring their schoolwork outside & take movement breaks as needed

Group registration is NOW OPEN for Summer 2022. Parents are invited to sign up via our website or contact EXPLORE directly at with any questions!