Occupational Therapy, as some people mistakenly believe, isn't only about getting back to work after an illness or injury. There is a perception that OT is for stroke victims who need to "relearn" how to put on their socks or brush their teeth. It's true that OTs help adults of all levels regain practical skills lost or diminished for some medical or neurological reason. But it's also addressing how you "occupy" your time, not necessarily disabilities. Think of the things you do in your daily life that could be improved, and occupational therapy can help.
Children Can Benefit Too
An occupational therapist from New York has developed a series of programs for children age three to six that were designed to enhance their experiences in Pre-K and kindergarten for increased readiness for classroom learning. Kristin Ciorra, owner of SENSE-Sational FUN-damentals, offers classes for toddlers and up to acquire, reinforce and strengthen developmental skills needed in school.
Weekly classes use age-appropriate activities that are play-based to engage children to improve the skills they have and prepare them for the next level of learning in formal education.
Caregivers Come Too
Although not required, caregivers are highly encouraged to accompany the kids to class. Different classes address specific skill sets, all designed to stimulate development, engage the intellect and incorporate FUN into every aspect of the experience. Everyone learns better when the lesson is engaging and entertaining.
Fine-motor skills help with dexterity necessary for using the "tools" of learning such as how to hold and use a pencil and how to manipulate a pair of scissors. Ciorra observes as well as instructs and alerts parents and caregivers if she sees a need for early intervention. Other classes use substances such as liquids, sand, etc. for tactile engagement. Movement classes give kids a chance to be aware of their bodies, become more coordinated and gain confidence in negotiating the physical environment. For pure fun, creative cooking provides young ones the opportunity to create a sweet treat without using a heat source, something they can take home and share.
Ready for Readiness
Kids who have advanced competence in learning skills they will need as school progresses will face the next level with a calmer attitude, and build on those skills for a more successful traditional learning experience.
The occupational therapy field is wide open and opportunities abound. If you are interested in pursuing a career in OT or other Allied Health roles, please contact us.
And if you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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