During lockdown, you may not just be thanking educators for the efforts they make for your children every day. You may also have noticed more than before how your child may be struggling with certain everyday tasks that they should be able to manage on their own. An occupational therapist (OT) can help your child reach their full potential and maximum level of independence at home and at school through the development and improvement of practical life skills. These skills include fine and gross motor skills, as well as organisational skills.
An OT will assess your child’s strengths and challenges to identify areas for development. If your child is not reaching a specific milestone, or is unable to perform an age-appropriate task as expected, the OT will create a programme of activities and exercises to help develop the skills needed.
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills are essential for success at home and school. These skills range from being able to wash hands, brush teeth and get dressed to holding and controlling a pencil, and being able to use a pair of scissors correctly. OT’s use a lacing board with two different colour laces, for example, to guide children on how to tie their shoelaces, while pinching play dough may help children fasten press studs on clothes. To help form letters, schoolgoers may be asked to form letters in shaving cream with a finger, or trace letters on specialised paper or on an app with a stylus.
Gross motor skills
Being able to run, jump, throw and catch are examples of gross motor skills. Children who struggle with these particular skills, may need to improve their coordination, as well as their core muscles for balance. Strong core muscles are important to be able to stand and sit up straight so as to pay better attention to instructions and to focus on work. Physical activities like hopscotch, dancing and obstacle courses are used to help children who struggle with gross motor skills.
Everyday tasks, such as doing homework, packing a school bag, or creating a study timetable are organisational skills which an OT can help with. If your child has trouble focusing on arranging related items, or keeps misplacing their belongings, something as simple as different colour folders or containers could help.
An OT could also help create different check lists, schedules and routines for your child, which will positively impact their schoolwork. For example, an OT could help a child who usually struggles to see patterns, to arrange numbers or items in a sequence, and follow instructions better just by being more organised.
What Bestmed offers
The above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what an OT can do to help your child. Bestmed members who complete their Health Assessment (previously HRA) can unlock the benefit of an annual functional assessment at a contracted OT for each of their children aged 3 to 12 years. Only one parent needs to complete their HRA to unlock this Bestmed Tempo wellness programme benefit.
Complete your HRA at Dis-Chem, Clicks, van Heerden or Alpha Pharm and make an appointment at one of Bestmed’s network OT’s to help unlock your child’s full potential and boost their self-esteem.