Occupational Therapists work with people with a broad range of abilities. Occupational Therapists (OTs) work to help people participate in everyday activities. For children this includes being able to play, learn and interact with others. OTs work to offer ideas and strategies to improve access to learning. Here are a few tips from an OT perspective including the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
- “Pack it light. Wear it right.” This includes wearing a backpack that is no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. Heaviest items should be packed closest to the child’s back. Use both straps, as well as the chest or waist straps if the backpack is equipped with these types of straps. Backpacks on wheels or not carrying as much in the backpack (only necessary items) are also good options.
- Access to water throughout the day is important for maintaining focus in school and after school. Sports bottles or water bottle with a straw are helpful.
- Packing nutritious options of fruits and vegetables are important for snacks and lunch. Crunchy foods such as carrots and apples can help students stay alert and on task.
- Stay organized. Be sure to plan ahead. Pack lunches, snacks and backpacks the night before. Set out clothes for the next day the night before. Balance sports and school work. Routines are very helpful to keep children calm and organized.
- Active time. Offer variations in seated time and active time after school. Some children work best after given an opportunity to play and move around outdoors.
- Offer spaces which provide enough light and are supportive for learning (free from distractions). Be sure to find the right time of night for your child. Some do better with an opportunity to participate in a “fun” activity after work is done. This can include a special time (e.g. dancing, singing) with your child.
- Be sure to plan to get a full night’s rest before school each day. Plan for late nights on non-school nights. Turn off TVs, tablets and video games at least one hour before bed.
Submitted by: Kristen Jackson, MOTR/L
Kristen began working at North Country Hospital in the Rehabilitation Services Department in February 2007. She earned her Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree in January 2007 from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Kristen provides services to clients of all ages from infant to elderly. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the Vermont Occupational Therapy Association (VOTA).