Tuesday, October 15, 2013

10 Ways to Engage Kids in Pediatric Therapy

Edutopia published an article on responses they received from 220 eighth graders about "what engages students"?  The author compiled the answers into 10 general categories.  Here is my translation of the 10 categories to apply to pediatric therapy sessions:
1.  Working with their Peers:  Most students enjoy working with a partner to problem solve and to throw in some social interaction.  If a student does not receive group therapy sessions would this be a possibility to increase his/her interest during a therapy session?

2.  Working with Technology:  Most technology use is a real barrier breaker especially for students with special needs.  It is unique in that you can be 10 years younger than someone else but you may know more about technology.  Sometimes a skill that is being worked on for possibly years during therapy could be achieved through the use of technology.  Not sure where to start, ask another middle school student to help you. 

3.  Connecting the Real World to the Work that We Do:  If your student is getting tired of practicing something over and over, perhaps take a field trip to show them why they need the skill.  Can't take a field trip, find a video on the internet explaining why the skill is beneficial.  Maybe ask the student to think up a project to complete that will effect the real world.  Working on handwriting skills, how about a letter campaign to fix something that the student feels needs to change?

4.  Love What You Do:  Be enthusiastic as the teacher.  If you are bored and monotone, it rubs off on students.  Keep therapy fun and exciting.

5.  Get Me Out of My Seat:  Let students move during therapy sessions as much as possible.  They are required to sit for such long lengths of time.  Throw in movement when working on skills.

6.  Use Visuals:  If a student is not understanding what you are asking he/she to do, use a visual.  Again, show a video, use picture symbols or physical;y demonstrate yourself. 

7.  Student Choice:  Allow the students to choose activities.  Have several activities available that will accomplish the same end results and let them choose.  Need to plan in advance, ask the student the session before what activity they would like to work on next.  Maybe provide the student with homework to plan out some activities that will help them to achieve their goals.

8.  Understand the Kids:  This can be difficult at time.  But get to know your students.  What are their likes and dislikes?  Use those to your advantage to keep them engaged.

9.  Mix It Up:  Change up how you are practicing an activity.  This is a great motor learning concept.  Humans needs to learn motor skills in different environments and settings to truly learn a skill.  Use different materials, practice in different rooms, practice outdoors and practice with different people.

10.  Be Human:  Engage with the kids.  They need role models who can show that it is okay to try and maybe you will make a mistake along the way.  So if an activity that you wanted to try didn't work out as you expected (we have all been there) tell the student that you made a mistake.  Explain to them that if we try it a different way in the future it may be more beneficial.  Not sure how to fix it, ask the student first they may just have the best idea of all!   

Reference:  Heather Wolpert-Gawron. Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement. Retrieved from the web on 10/14/13 at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-stories-heather-wolpert-gawron

Need more tips and suggestions regarding pediatric therapy try 25 Tip Sheets for School Based Therapists at http://www.yourtherapysource.com/tipsheets.html

1 comment:

Katherine Collmer said...

These are wonderful strategies for including children in their sessions. They work well for adults, also. As a former teacher-turned-OT, I certainly see the link between the two professions when it comes to involving children in their learning and therapy. Thank you for sharing this, and for the free items that you share every day on your site.

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