How an OT can help in school?

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Mother Sending Her Daughter to School

Occupational therapists (OTs) can play a crucial role in helping children settle into school by addressing various aspects of their development and well-being. The transition to a school environment can be challenging for some children, and OTs can provide support to ease this process. Here are some OT tips for settling into school:

Table of Contents

Settling into School: How an OT can help in school

Occupational therapists conduct thorough assessments, including sensory processing, motor skills, executive functions, and self-regulation evaluations. These assessments provide insights into individual strengths, challenges, and specific needs.

1. Sensory Considerations:

Sensory Breaks: Work with the school to establish sensory-friendly spaces where children can take breaks if they feel overwhelmed. Provide sensory tools like fidgets or stress balls to help regulate their sensory experiences.

2. Fine Motor Skills:

Pencil Grasp and Handwriting: Address fine motor skills by working on pencil grasp and handwriting skills. Provide activities that strengthen hand muscles and improve coordination, ensuring that children are ready for the fine motor demands of school tasks.

3. Organizational Skills:

Backpack Organization: Teach children how to organize their backpacks and school supplies. Introduce systems such as color-coding or labelling to make it easier for them to find and manage their belongings.

4. Visual Schedule:

Daily Routine Visuals: Create a visual schedule that outlines the daily routine. This helps children understand and anticipate the sequence of activities, reducing anxiety about the unknown.

5. Social Skills Development:

Role-Playing: Use role-playing activities to practice social interactions, such as greeting peers, sharing, and taking turns. Reinforce positive social behaviours to enhance their ability to connect with others.

6. Self-Care Skills:

Independence in Self-Care: Ensure that children have the necessary self-care skills, such as dressing and toileting independently. Work on skills like fastening buttons, zipping, and tying shoelaces.

7. Attention and Focus:

Attention-Building Activities: Incorporate activities that enhance attention and focus, such as games that require sustained concentration. This can contribute to improved participation in classroom activities.

8. Emotional Regulation:

Coping Strategies: Teach children effective coping strategies for managing emotions. This can include deep breathing exercises, using a calm-down corner, or having a small comfort item.

9. Play-Based Activities:

Social Play: Engage children in play-based activities that promote social skills and cooperation. These activities can help build friendships and a sense of belonging.

10. Gross Motor Skills:

Playground Skills: Ensure that children have the necessary gross motor skills for playground activities. This includes climbing, running, and engaging in structured physical activities.

11. Transition Support:

Transition Routines: Develop transition routines to help children move smoothly between activities. This can be particularly beneficial during transitions such as arrival, departure, and changing classrooms.

12. Collaboration with Teachers:

Communication with Teachers: Maintain open communication with teachers to understand the specific challenges each child may be facing. Collaborate on strategies to support the child’s successful integration into the classroom.

13. Problem-Solving Skills:

Critical Thinking Games: Introduce games and activities that enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These skills are valuable for navigating various situations encountered in a school environment.

14. Establishing a Routine:

Consistent Routines: Help children establish consistent morning and evening routines. Consistency provides a sense of predictability and security.

15. Encouraging Independence:

Task Independence: Encourage independence in completing tasks. Gradually increase expectations for age-appropriate responsibilities, fostering a sense of accomplishment.

16. Social Stories:

Social Narratives: Create social stories that address specific situations or challenges the child may encounter at school. This can help prepare them for various scenarios and reduce anxiety.

17. Positive Reinforcement:

Celebrating Achievements: Provide positive reinforcement for small achievements. Celebrate successes to boost the child’s confidence and motivation.


In summary, occupational therapists can contribute significantly to a child’s successful transition to school by addressing sensory, motor, organizational, and social aspects of development. Collaborating with teachers, parents, and school staff ensures a holistic and supportive approach to help children settle into the school environment.

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Transform Life is a NDIS registered organisation that provide support for your autistic child, as well as support to you as a parent to best navigate the challenges your child and family face on a daily basis.

Book a consult with an experienced Occupational Therapist at Transform Life to explore how OT can support your autistic child and your family.


Transform Life is an Australian owned provider specialising in evidence based therapeutic support including Positive Behaviour Support, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Speech Therapy and Behavioural Interventions helping transform lives and families across Australia.

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