from the Occupational Therapists
The term “Occupational” in our title is often confusing to staff members and parents. “Occupation” refers to a person’s direction of time and energy toward life goals. For children, these life goals include participation in self-care (feeding, dressing, personal hygiene), school and play. It is our role to assist children to perform to the best of their abilities in these areas.
At HCSD Preschool, each classroom has an assigned OT who works directly with the children who have been found eligible for fine motor intervention. We are also available in the classroom to observe and consult with the teacher about other students when needed. We are in the classroom one day per week.
Our typical day in the classroom may be introducing prewriting skills during circle time, assisting with art activities (cutting, gluing, tracing, project assembly) during centers, and helping with functional independence skills such as opening snacks and managing coats and zippers. We also may work with children on a one to one basis to promote hand and finger strength, appropriate grasp patterns with classroom materials, and hand coordination in play and functional tasks.
There is an Occupational Therapist in the building 5 days a week.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to write in your child’s notebook or call the office.
Activities to Improve Hand Skills
It is important to remember that muscle tone and joint stability in the trunk, shoulders, wrists and hands are necessary for fine motor skills development. Resistive, “heavy work” activities help develop arm muscles. Have your child try some of the following:
1. Wheelbarrow walk on extended arms while you support the legs
2. Tug-of-War with a towel or rope
3. Crawl through obstacles
4. Crab walk
5. Play on climbing equipment
6. Push/pull a wagon or laundry basket filled with heavy items
7. Do “push-ups” against the wall.
8. Lie on stomach, propped on elbows and forearms while watching TV, playing, coloring, or reading books.
Working in the vertical position helps strengthen the whole arm which is an important foundational skills for writing:
1. Use an easel or mount paper on the wall while drawing
2. Place paper on an empty 3-ring binder(3-4” thick) while coloring, drawing or writing at the table
3. During bath time, draw on the tub wall with soap foam, soap crayons or shaving cream
4. Some commercial toys can be used on the vertical – pegboards, Lite-Brite, Magnadoodle.
The intrinsic muscles within the hand are vital for skilled movement and efficient, functional grasp. As the hand develops, the thumb side becomes more skilled in precision (thumb, index and middle finger) while the power side (ring and little finger) becomes a strong stabilizer. This is vital for developing a functional, writing or scissor grasp and for general hand dexterity. Have your child try some of the following:
1. Roll, squeeze, pull play-doh or silly putty
2. Use a squirt gun or spray bottle
3. Play games with cards, chips or pegs to manipulate
4. Work on stringing/lacing activities
5. Use tweezers or tongs in pick-up games