As children grow and develop, they learn to do many things, including taking care of themselves, managing their school work, playing sports or developing a leisure interest/hobby. Sometimes, children have more problems than is typical for their age with motor skills. This can make everyday activities a challenge to learn and master. A Occupational Therapist knows a lot about the development of gross and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are important for success with daily tasks such as printing, drawing, cutting with scissors and doing up buttons and zippers. Gross motor skills are necessary for stable posture, skipping, running, catching balls and riding a bike. When children have difficulties with these daily activities because of a motor problem, it is hard to fully participate in the things they need to do, want to do, or are expected to do at home, at school and in the community. Occupational therapists can help teachers and parents better understand and help these children succeed with everyday activities.
Specific roles and responsibilities include:
- Working alongside the teacher, the OT can observe students participating in daily activities at their locker, in the classroom, on the playground and/or in gym. The OT can help the teacher learn to observe motor skills and identify students where motor difficulties may be impacting on learning or participation. The OT can help the teacher learn strategies that work within the classroom to help these students succeed.
- Working with students having difficulty with tasks requiring motor skills, OTs can help the teacher to learn and use effective instructional strategies. OTs can make recommendations around instructional, environmental and assessment accommodations to facilitate student success and the development of motor skills.
- OTs can teach a lesson for an activity that requires motor coordination (e.g.: cutting with scissors, printing, cursive writing, keyboarding, Quality Daily Fitness routine) to transfer knowledge to teachers about instructional strategies for students with motor challenges, and how to facilitate development of motor skills at a grade/age appropriate level.