When to use this resource

As Occupational Therapists we work with children and young people who have difficulties with the practical skills they need to take part in and enjoy everyday life.  Many children can take longer to learn new skills and find certain day to day activities difficult to master.  Often all that these children need is regular practise in a familiar environment, where tasks can be broken down into simple stages allowing them to learn through repetition and a consistent approach.   

The information in this resource is designed to be used by teachers and teaching assistants working in mainstream schools, to support children who are having difficulties with one or two specific functional skills at school.  These children may not meet the criteria for Occupational Therapy services, but still need some support to help develop their skills.  

The Children's Occupational Therapy Resource contains worksheets which are devised to provide primary school teaching staff with useful strategies to address the most common functional difficulties, such as handwriting development, using scissors or cutlery, dressing (changing for PE, managing buttons).  By using this pack, you will provide the child with lots of opportunities to practise skills, whilst having fun!   

Research shows that children tend to make more progress when they carry out activities within their usual routine, and for a short time daily rather than one longer session per week. Carrying out regular practise with the child will also help you to see the progress that they are making. By using the pack and practising skills daily, the child may no longer need a referral to Occupational Therapy and will have avoided attending an unnecessary appointment. If after using the pack, the child still requires a referral to the service, evidence of the strategies followed should be included in the referral.   

There will of course be times when a direct referral to Occupational Therapy is needed (please see below).  Once the referral has been made, the pack can then be used to support the child whilst they are waiting to be seen.      

When to refer directly to Occupational Therapy

  • children with a physical disability such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, who are struggling with day-to-day skills at school
  • children who are struggling with three or more daily living skills, and whose difficulties are not in line with their overall developmental needs

If you have any queries about referring to the Occupational therapy service please contact us to discuss.

How to use the resource 

Ideally, we advise that the child is supported to carry out the strategies and activity ideas provided for a minimum of 10 minutes each day.  You can do more than this, but it is important that the child remains motivated so that the activities are still fun.  Many of the strategies are designed to be embedded into the classroom routine, and do not require the child to be taken out of class, for example; ensuring the correct scissors are used, providing adapted paper for handwriting tasks and so on.   

We suggest that activities should be carried out for at least one school term (approx. 3 months), to allow for progress. In order to help the child make the most progress during this time, it is recommended that teaching staff liaise with parents/carers so that they are involved in the process.  Please share the relevant worksheets with parents/carers, as this will allow continuity and for strategies to be practised both at home and at school.  

We advise that you start with Worksheet 1 on ‘Postural Control' for every child, and choose 1-2 activities to use as a warm up.  This is because postural control is a foundation skill vital for success in all activities.  After this choose 1-2 activities from the relevant worksheets to address the child's difficulties.  Be sure to follow the attention strategies if this is an area of difficulty for the child, as poor attention will affect skill development.  

Activities can be chosen from the worksheets in any order; ensure that the activity is one that the child will enjoy and try to link activities to the child's interests or school topics where possible. You can change the activities you choose from each worksheet every 2 to 3 days, or when the child indicates that they would like to try something else.   

What if there is no improvement after using the pack? 

The relevant strategies outlined in the pack should be incorporated at school and home on a regular basis for at least one school term (approx. 3 months).  Following this, if the child continues to have significant difficulties in at least 3 areas of functional ability, then a referral to the Occupational Therapy service may be required.   

How to refer

Occupational Therapy is a specialist service and all referrals will be triaged by a qualified therapist to determine the appropriateness of the referral and whether or not occupational therapy is the most suitable service to affect change. 

Referrals to Occupational Therapy must include: 

  • clear indication of the everyday/ functional activities that are of concern to the child/ young person and family.  Please avoid using general terms such as “fine motor skills” or “sensory processing difficulties” or “motor planning difficulties” 
  • the referral should indicate at least 3 areas of functional difficulty (e.g. using scissors and changing for PE), and evidence that the difficulties identified are having a significant impact on participation at home/school
  • clear indication that the developmental level and cognitive ability of the child/ young person has been considered in relation to the areas of concern.  I.e. are the child/ young person's skills or behaviour consistent with their development and cognitive ability?
  • information on other services which are involved with the child's care
  • written or verbal consent from parents and / or young person

When completing a referral to the Occupational Therapy service please provide information on actions already taken to address the concerns raised and whether or not these actions have been successful (e.g. Occupational Therapy Resource, Jump Ahead programme, Sensory Strategies). An evaluation sheet is included with the referral form, and also with this resource pack, for you to record the strategies which have been implemented and the functional difficulties that the child continues to have.  Please note that without this additional information we will be unable to accept the referral.

To access more information about this resource and the service related to it, you an review the related resources below.

Related services

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