What is school-based occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a related service provided to students who demonstrate a need for support in order to fully participate in their education, school routines and role as a student. Occupational therapists in the school setting support a student's special education goals as described in his/her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). OT addresses several areas of functioning that may impact participation at school (e.g. motor and motor planning skills, visual motor and visual perception, self-regulation and sensory processing, social learning.) Tips for supporting school success
In addition to serving students with identified needs, OT's provide teachers and school staff with tools and strategies that can be used to support participation in all students.
For more information on the difference between clinic based and school based OT visit: AOTA parent brochure: OT role in schools
Zones of Regulation tool box
I will try to keep this updated with ideas and tools to help students manage the emotions that are associated with the different "zones"
Find of list of calming strategies here.
Proper seating in the classroom
Functional pencil grips
Why is teaching letter formation so important?
With the growing emphasis on literacy and writing composition, it is increasingly important that students develop automaticity with handwriting. Automaticity is the ability to write a letter without having to think through and plan the movements. If letter writing is automatic, the student is able to dedicate his thoughts to his story, spelling or recall of information.
Proper letter formation supports a student's ability to write quickly and legibly as academic demands increase. How does a student reach automaticity?? Consistency, practice, feedback. Read on...
Developmental progression of pre-writing skills:
Tips for Teaching Handwriting :
- Confirm that the student has the foundational skills to begin handwriting (letter ID, functional pencil grasp, ability to draw pre-writing shapes etc.)
- Provide multi-sensory opportunities for practice (sand, shaving cream, clay, vertical surfaces, air drawing, etc)
- Some handwriting curricula introduce capital letters first followed by lowercase letters (e.g.Handwriting Without Tears, Print Path). Others introduce uppercase at the same time as lowercase (Zaner Bloser and D'nealian). Once students are able to draw pre-writing shapes, they have the foundation for learning uppercase letters. Lowercase letters are more difficult to write and many students may not be ready for the complexity of curves, retracing and the line orientations. To avoid bad habits, meet your student with developmentally appropriate challenges.
- Be consistent with letter formation and language when teaching. Students will use this language to talk themselves through the letter formation. See below for video models of formation and simple language.
- Provide lots of opportunities for practice and mastery of the correct letter formation.
- Correct mistakes immediately to prevent bad habits from developing. The most frequent bad habits that result from lack of feedback: starting letters from the bottom and starting letters like "o" or "g" in a clockwise direction.
- Handwriting programs that group letters according to movement patterns encourage repetition for automaticity. For example: "c-start" letters (c,o,a,g,q,d,s) all start with a counterclockwise stroke.
Language to think about when helping a student learn where to place and size letters:
- What do you call the top line, bottom line and dotted center line on 3-lined paper?
Note: Zaner Bloser calls the top line the "headline" and encourages pointing to your head as you give instruction. The bottom line is called the "baseline". The dotted middle line is called the "midline"
- How do you describe these letters: g,j,p,q,y? Are they: hanging, letters that fall, basement letters?
Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: Letters that "go below the baseline"
- How do you describe these letters: b,d,f,h,k,l,t? Are they tall? Do they bump the top line?
Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: "tall letters"
- What about these: a,c,e,i,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x,z?
Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: "short letters"
Videos for letter formation with language
Using Print Path's Path of Movement Language, video models are provided below and provides language that students can use to establish automaticity and talk themselves through each letter formation.
Letters are presented below in a developmentally appropriate sequence.
Visit Thia Triggs' Blog for more information on her program.
Uppercase: Fly up letters: F,E,D,P,B,R
Uppercase: Lively lines letters: L,H,K,U,T,I,J
Uppercase: C-Start Letters: C,O,Q,G,S
Uppercase: Slanty-Sliding letters: V,W,X,Y,N,M,Z,A
Lowercase: C-Starts: c,o,a,d,g,q,s
Lowercase: Re-Trace Rules: r,n,m,h,b,p
Lowercase: Little Fly-Ups: i,j,l,t,k,u
Lowercase: Slanting-Sliding: v,w,x,y,z
Lowercase: Start in Space: e,f
Back to School Sleep Routine:
In order to participate fully in their education, students need good quality sleep to nourish their brains and bodies. Screen time has a big impact on our sleep/wake cycles. See here for managing sensory inputs to establish a healthy bedtime routine.
Back to School Backpack Safety:
- Backpacks should weigh no more than 10% of the student's body weight.
- Distribute weight of the pack evenly over both shoulders with padded shoulder straps.
- Fit the pack snuggly against the back, to prevent hanging or swinging
- Bottom of the pack should sit at the curve of the lower back. Aim for no longer than 4 inches below the waist.