Setting Your Child Up For Success in School

School success can be measured by both academic performance and social participation. Your child must be ready to manage the demands of classroom instruction as well as demonstrate appropriate behavior on the playground, in the cafeteria, and other areas.

Occupational therapy practitioners help students succeed in all school activities throughout the day. They are important members of the school team to help children learn, make friends, and play. The following tips are from occupational therapy practitioners who work with elementary school age children.

Completing homework successfully
  • Set up an area for homework with good lighting, away from TV and other distractions.
  • Keep track of how long it takes your child to complete homework assignments, and share this information with the school team as needed.
  • Recognize the unique learning style of your child and adjust homework completion as needed. For example, some children learn best by reading, whereas others learn best when they hear information.
Use computer time effectively
  • Create a computer workstation with the top of the screen at eye level and the feet flat on the floor.
  • Use parental controls to block Web sites that have inappropriate content.
  • Encourage stretching breaks during computer or homework time to increase concentration and decrease irritability or fatigue.
Use school materials properly
  • Provide your child with a variety of school materials and supplies in different shapes and sizes. For example, writing may improve when using a mechanical pencil or a ballpoint pen.
  • Be sure your child’s backpack is no heavier than 10% of his or her weight, and use the waist straps to secure it.
Develop appropriate social skills and behavior necessary for learning
  • Demonstrate good manners and cooperation at home. Establish a regular dinnertime for all family members to interact.
  • Encourage extracurricular activities based on your child’s interests and abilities.
  • Play board games that require good sportsmanship, concentration, and rule following.
  • Build your child’s sense of responsibility and being part of a team by asking him or her to assist in household chores.

Adapt Pencils: Grasping a pencil can be a challenge for kids with fine motor issues or low muscle tone. Pencil grippers, other similar adaptations, or alternative finger positioning can increase stability and endurance for writing, coloring, and drawing.

Positioning: Children who crave movement and those with low muscle tone can benefit from alternative positioning. Sitting on an air-filled cushion, gymnastic ball or other seating option can improve posture and provide movement opportunities for those who need it.

Planning: Establish schedules early on for morning routines, doing homework and bed time. A smooth transition back to school starts with building routine and structure. Tools such as a Time Timer, social stories and visual schedules can be a parent and teacher’s best friends.

Coordinate with your therapists: Check with your therapists at Pediatric Therapies on which adaptive equipment or techniques your child will need to make their school experience rewarding and fun.

Setting up for success in school doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember, that at Pediatric Therapies, we are here to help your child reach their full potential in all aspects of life from physical to mental and emotional abilities. Call us today to learn more about how we can help your child learn, grow and reach their extraordinary possibilities!