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Classroom Strategies

Occupational Therapists work with schools to help actively engage children in their learning, to achieve their potential.

How do we do this?

1. Observe the child's current engagement within the school            
2. Understand the child's difficulties
3. Discuss how to best facilitate the support needed
4. Guide the child in promoting their own learning                                                                                    

Organisation in the classroom

  • Plan a timetable with the child including their daily routine and schedule, with the most challenging activities in the morning. Place this timetable where they sit for easy reference
  • Allow breaks or opportunities to relax within and between activities requiring the most concentration
  • Give a child warning before they are required to move on to the next task so they have time to organise themselves

Organisation strategies for the child

  • Allocate the child their own designated space to keep belongings so they know where to find things quickly and easily
  • Use an egg timer or stop watch to pace the child to complete a task in an agreed time
  • Create a short set of instructions at the top of the page that can be ticked off as steps are completed
  • ​​​​​​​For more lengthy instructions, use a highlighter to indicate key points, or use colourful post-it notes to prompt visual memory cues

Arrange the room

  • “A tidy classroom creates a tidier mind” – arrange the classroom to be consistently clear and organised to improve attention and concentration skills
  • ​​​​​​​Avoid areas of overcrowding with visual stimuli
  • Only allow necessary items to be on the child’s desk space to reduce distracting visual stimulation
  • Seat the child near to the teacher, but explain that it is an opportunity rather than a punishment
  • Create “buddying” opportunities where the child works alongside focused, productive peers
  • During longer periods of seated activity, encourage the child to sit in an area where they can get up and move about without disturbing classmates
  • ​​​​​​​Create a flexible seating environment with a variety of choice of seating. Wobble boards can create improved posture and seating for writing which in turn will reduce fidgeting and increase concentration levels

Modify the session plan

  • Offer instructions verbally and non-verbally for more effective understanding. Clear, short instructions should be offered in written format or images and the child should be given the opportunity to repeat the task back if necessary with time for any questions
  • Where the task is more complicated, break it down and introduce one step at a time
  • Allow more time to complete work
  • When a new task is introduced, allow for a lower accuracy rate
  • Provide verbal and non-verbal encouragement and feedback. Introduce a rewards system
  • Focus on correct answers rather than highlighting those that are incorrect which could increase the feelings of discouragement
  • Focus on effort rather than amount of work produced, by setting lower volumes of work. The child has more opportunity to learn the work more thoroughly