Children can benefit greatly from occupational therapy in school. But it’s not always easy to motivate students to do their best. Although it can vary, some students may feel stigmatized and frustrated about their challenges.
But as an occupational therapist in a school, you are more likely to have a cooperative student, if you make therapy fun. There are lots of ways you can incorporate therapy focused on developing fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and sensory regulation while still having fun. Consider some of the following:
As an OT, you may have used tablets and iPads in other settings. But tablets and iPads can be especially beneficial when working with children in a school setting. There are various types of games and apps that can help with improving attention and visual tracking, activities of daily living and other impairments.
For example, letter writing apps can help young children improve fine motor skills by teaching students how to both learn and form letters. There are also many different sequencing games that help kids work on following multi-step instructions.
New apps and games are being developed all the time that can improve your ability to help students of all ages. There are even apps that stimulate social interaction and reinforce appropriate behavior with peers.
Using a tablet and app also allows for portable therapy. In some instances, students may be able to continue to use the apps and work on their therapy goals at home.
With all the modern technology available to therapists, board games may seem old fashioned, but they can still be a fun tool in a school setting. There is a great variety of traditional board games that focus on memorization and critical thinking that can be useful. In addition, certain games, such as Connect Four and Operation, can help students with fine motor skills, such as developing a mature pincer grasp.
Even if there is not a designated therapy room at the school where you work, most board games do not take up much space and are portable enough to be used in a small office space.
Kids and video games often go hand in hand. If you want your student to get involved in his therapy, putting a gaming device in his hand may do the trick. Depending on what system you have available, there are a variety of games that can help with fine motor skills, problem-solving, and attention span.
Putting it All Together
Of course, not all activities will be appropriate for all students. A student’s diagnosis, age, and their individual educational plan (IEP) need to be considered before implementing certain tools. But it is also helpful to look at a student’s interests and personality. Some students may thrive when they get involved in an activity they enjoy, such as video games.
You might find a combination of modern technology and traditional games used in a school setting make occupational therapy not only beneficial but fun. Keep in mind that bridging the gap between therapy and a fun activity may help students get on board and give their best effort.