Is Your Child Positioned for School Success?

SCHOOL SUCCESS can be measured by both academic performance and social participation. Your child must be equipped to handle the demands of classroom instructions while displaying appropriate behavior during recess, in the cafeteria eating lunch and at other places.

Occupational Therapy practitioners help students succeed in all school activities throughout the day. They are important additions to the schooling process. They assist in helping children learn, make new friends, and even play. The following tips are from Occupational Therapists that currently work with elementary school aged children.

If you want your child to: Consider these activity tips: An Occupational Therapy practitioner offers expertise to:

Complete homework successfully

  • Set up a homework area with adequate lighting, away from TV and other distractions.
  • Keep track of how long it takes your child to complete homework assignments, and convey this information with the school as needed.
  • Recognize the unique learning style of your child and adjust homework completion as needed. For example, some children learn best by reading, whereas others learn best when they hear information.
    • Make it easier for your child to learn by modifying assignments, changing desk heights or positions, and offering additional assistance.
    • Address underlying sensory components (taste, smell, touch, and/or sounds) that affect learning and behavior.
    • Work with the teacher to modify the way he or she presents materials to address different learning styles.

Use computer time effectively

  • Create a computer workstation with the top of the screen at eye level and the feet flat on the floor.
  • Use parental controls to block inappropriate web sites.
  • Set breaks for stretching and walking around during computer or homework time to increase focus, attention span and decrease irritability or fatigue.
  • Perform an ergonomics evaluation of your child’s computer workstation to minimize posture and repetition injuries.
  • Provide assistive technology to help your child use materials in a different way if necessary (e.g., convert typed words to voice; suggest a different mouse or keyboard; use voice recognition software; introduce helpful apps).

Use school materials properly

  • Provide your child with a variety of school materials and supplies in different shapes and sizes. For example, writing may improve when using a mechanical pencil or a ballpoint pen.
  • Check your child’s backpack to make sure it does not weigh more than 10% of their own weight. Inform why and encourage your child to secure the backpack by using the waist straps.
    • Provide adaptations such as special paper, zipper pulls, scissors, or built-up pencils to help children with fine motor activities such as zippering and handwriting.
    • Screen children for proper backpack size and weight to prevent injury.
    • Collaborate and consult with the school team to address proper positioning and tool use throughout the school day.

Develop appropriate social skills and behavior needed for learning.

  • Demonstrate good manners and cooperation at home. Set a daily dinner time for the entire family to interact.
  • Encourage extracurricular activities based on your child’s interests and abilities.
  • Play board games that require good sportsmanship, concentration, and rule-following.
  • Build your child’s sense of responsibility and being part of a team by asking him or her to assist in household chores.
    • Work with school staff to include more physical activity throughout the school day to help improve attention and behavior.
    • Recommend after-school activities individualized to your child’s abilities and goals.
    • Lead activity groups at lunchtime to address school initiatives such as anti-bullying or obesity prevention.
    • Collaborate with parents by conducting in-services and providing home programs that address social skills.

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Want More Information on Occupational Therapy and positioning your child for success in school?

If you would like to consult an occupational therapist about positioning for school success, talk to your child’s teacher about whether a referral to Occupational Therapy is appropriate. Your physician, other health professionals, and your school district’s director of special education may also be able to help.

Occupational Therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping children succeed by addressing both physical and mental issues.


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