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Welcome to Occupational Therapy at Moose Hill
Hi! Welcome to Occupational Therapy (or OT) at Moose Hill School. My name is Susan Richardson. I am a registered and licensed occupational therapist working for the Londonderry School District at Moose Hill School in the Londonderry Early Education Program and kindergarten classrooms.
Role of OT in Preschool & Kindergarten
The occupational therapist uses human development and medically-based training to assist children with and without special needs to function optimally in their educational setting. This includes many basic foundational skills, such as gross motor & fine motor functioning, self-care skills and sensori-motor functioning.
The Importance of Building Foundational Skills
Our traditional senses: vision(seeing), auditory(hearing), tactile(touch), smell(olfactory) and taste(gustatory) give us important information about our surroundings. Our brain also receives important information from less familiar senses known as the vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Our vestibular sense gives us awareness of our body position and movement in space through detection of motion and gravity. It is a very powerful sense. Our proprioceptive sense gives us unconscious information through our muscles, joints and ligaments about where our body is in space. It helps us regulate the amount of force needed to move in a smooth, coordinated manner. Proprioceptive activities can have a calming and organizing effect on our nervous system when offered at consistent intervals throughout the day. Our tactile sense gives us our "body boundaries" and helps us to know when we are sitting or standing an appropriate distance from others. "Pressure touch" can be calming allowing us to focus and attend. These three senses together are often referred to as the "power systems," assisting the brain to perform one of it's fundamental jobs -- processing sensation. Young children benefit from a sensory rich environment using the three power systems (vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile.)
Developing Strength & Coordination Before Writing
Young children NEED to develop the muscles in their hands, arms, shoulders and trunk in order to be ready to use these muscles for academic tasks. The basic preschool and kindergarten classroom curriculum is set up to give children lots of opportunity to do this. If a child tends to have difficulty with or avoid tasks that are needed to develop these muscles, the occupational therapist may make suggestions or work with the child on fun activities that would help. Often, if a child has difficulty with holding a pencil/crayon, strengthening and coordination activities will help. The hand alone has 26 small muscles (called intrinsic muscles) that need to be developed for efficiency with fine motor performance.
Trunk and Shoulder Girdle Activities
Being able to sit up effortlessly in a chair while coloring or writing is important for a child to have good control of writing utensils during academics. A child who frequently leans her head on her hand or lays her head on the table while writing or coloring may benefit from activities to strengthen his or her trunk and shoulder girdle muscles.
Developing Body Awareness
Gross motor activities involve total body movement through space, such as running, galloping, skipping, kicking a ball, dancing, climbing a jungle gym, swinging, sliding down a slide or pole and group/individual sports such as soccer and gymnastics. These things are great to help children develop an AUTOMATIC sense of where their bodies are as they move around (which 3,4,& 5 year olds do a lot of, for this very reason!) If they have a good, automatic sense of what their bodies are doing, then they are ready to begin concentrating on academics.
Developing Self-Help Skills
Preschool and kindergarten are important times for children to learn to become more independent in taking care of their own belongings and self-care needs. Putting on, taking off and putting away their own outdoor clothing is a focus from the beginning, as well as organizing items in their cubbies and backpacks. The children learn to open their own snacks and clean up afterwards. Independence in toileting is expected. Special needs children with motor difficulties may need the occupational therapist to provide modified techniques or extra practice to develop these skills.
Mrs. Susan Richardson, OTR/L
Moose Hill School 437-5855, ext 7219
Ideas for Fine Motor Development
In order to use their hands functionally for self-care, play and academic tasks, children need to develop good hand manipulation skills and coordination of their hand skills with their vision. This month I have included a link for Fine Motor Development activities. Keep enjoying your child as you nudge them to develop these skills!
To understand more about typical expectations by age, check out this link on Fine Motor Development 0-6 years
Ideas for Gross Motor Development
It is very important for children to have good body awareness and general large muscle coordination before they are able to successfully develop fine motor skills. So this month, I have included this link on ideas for Gross Motor Development. As always, have fun with your child with these activities!
Letter Writing in Kindergarten
The Londonderry School District has adopted the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) handwriting curriculum. Kindergarteners have direct instruction to learn to write legible upper and lower case letters. The HWT program is designed to decrease letter reversals through the use of small slate chalkboards and other multi-sensory methods. Your children will be learning how to imitate and follow directions related to the letters.
Handwriting Without Tears Website
Check out this website for more information on the Handwriting Without Tears program: http://www.hwtears.com/hwt/parents
Letter Formation Guides:
To see the way your children learn to make upper case (capital) letters, see: http://www.hwtears.com/files/click/2013/TGK/K_CA_Capital%20Formation%20Chart.pdf
To see the way your children learn to make lower case letters, see: http://www.hwtears.com/files/click/2013/TG2nd/2nd_HL_Fine%20Motor%20and%20Letter%20Practice%20for%20Home.pdf
Here are 99 fun sensory-based activities to do with your children. Enjoy!