Until we meet again - Occupational Therapy Program 2012 concludes

27 September 2012

The eight Occupational Therapy (OT) students working with K-2 students and their teachers at Bexley, Kogarah, Condell Park and Wattawa Heights PS bid their farewells at the end of Term 3. Students shared their expertise and assisted schools with their OT needs with much enthusiasm while completing their Bachelor of Heath Science in Occupational Therapy and Master of Occupation Therapy degrees.

The evolution of the Compass OT program in 2012 has been considerable. In addition to the in-school clinic, the program also introduced Professional Development sessions for teachers in Term 3, which provided teachers with helpful and practical OT strategies to support student development in the classroom. The collaborative nature of the sessions meant teachers could share their experiences, as well as the resources that the Compass OT program made available to sustain practice in the future. There were four sessions with applicable topics:

  • Core strength: building a string foundation for learning
  • Motor planning: dyspraxia, the disorganised child
  • Sensory processing: is it sensory or behavior?
  • Fine motor skills: getting little hands working

All sessions were delivered at schools and also used the schools' "connected classroom" video conferencing facilities. Sessions were made available to all Compass primary partner schools; teachers could choose to either dial in from the convenience of their classroom or visit the neighboring schools. The video conferencing facilities allowed the facilitators to reach out to more schools, with a total of nine schools and an estimated 40 teachers taking part.

Whether emphasized through the teacher's professional development or an in-school OT clinic, the re-enforcement of basic aspects of child development such as core strengths and fine motor skills has significantly contributed to the schools' efforts to improve students' academic outcomes. The improvements in these basic skills further engage the primary school students and encourage them to continue improving their outcomes at school.

Some teacher feedback:

  • "Connected classrooms [is] a great way to link together with other schools"
  • "I gained a greater understanding of the topic (Motor Planning- The Disorganised Child). I will be more aware that children that demonstrate disorganisation may have a legitimate condition that we can help treat" - Wattawa Heights PS
  • "[I learned] how vital core strength is to everyday activities and how good core strength can improve coordination and overcome exhaustion. I will use the information to incorporate core strength [exercises] into lesson breaks or warm up [and] cool down sessions at sport/PE" - Kogarah PS
  • "[Understand] what sensory processing is and useful simple strategies to implement in my classroom" - Condell Park PS
  • "The Hungry Tennis Ball idea is great!" - Bexley PS

Presentations and handouts from each topic are available on the Compass website in the Teachers' Resources page.

And finally, some feedback from a student:

A Year 2 student Wattawa Heights PS made a card for the OT University students that read:

To Erin and Chang,
Thank you for having us for the [w]hole term. COMPASS [is] the best. There is nothing I like at this school better than having COMPASS. Thank you for all the fun activities you have done with us.

Compass gratefully acknowledges its university and school partners for their collaborative contributions:

  • University students from Bachelor of Heath Sciences in Occupational Therapy and Master of Occupational Therapy who completed their placement at Compass partner schools
  • The Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney
  • Bexley, Kogarah, Condell Park and Wattawa Heights PS
  • Sharon Pierce from OT for Kids