Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables


Discovering occupational therapy - Tips and tricks - Educatall

Discovering occupational therapy

Hi! I am an occupational therapist. I have lots of great information, tips, ideas, and activities to share with you on Educatall!


What is it that I do exactly?

It seems that the first skill an occupational therapist must master before everything else is to be able to explain his/her role.

For this reason, here is the formal definition...

Occupational therapy is a health profession which aims to support children in their everyday life. Occupational therapy focuses on the whole child rather than a body part or a specific symptom. On one hand, the occupational therapist works directly with children by offering assessment or intervention services. On the other hand, the occupational therapist is equally sought-after to empower educators and parents through training or consulting.


The occupational therapist's main objective is to support the child's daily functioning. Knowledge of anatomical, physiological and neurological development helps the occupational therapist understand the roots of a child's difficulties when a problem occurs. Thereafter, the occupational therapist (OT) seeks to develop or rehabilitate skills and compensate for any handicap the child might have secondary to an impairment or disability. Moreover, helpful or hindering factors of the human and physical environment are always considered throughout this process.


Let's look at a concrete example: a 4 year old child who can't draw anything beyond a few scribbles. The occupational therapist analyses the problem by making different hypotheses regarding the possible causes of the situation. For instance, are the child's trunk muscles too weak to allow for a stable posture? Does he have enough postural control to make efficient movements with his writing hand possible? How about joint stability in the ligaments of the hands... is it sufficient to support a functional pencil grasp? Does the child have difficulty coordinating his drawing hand while looking at what he is drawing? Is he able to feel the pencil in his hand and therefore hold it while applying a level of pressure that is comfortable for the hand, but also flexible enough to allow pencil control? Does the child's body have sufficient awareness of its whereabouts in space? Does he constantly feel the need to get up from his chair and move in order to get enough feedback? Does he have the capacity to create and access the mental representations of the images he wishes to draw? Is he interested in drawing? After all, this is a very important factor. Has the child been given enough opportunities to learn and practice at home and in daycare? The answers to these questions are essential to help identify the right strategies to support the child.


Here are a few examples of possible challenges during early childhood that could benefit from the input of an occupational therapist.

  • Elsa lacks coordination during gross motor activities. She has a poor sense of balance and has difficulty catching a ball as well as climbing structures at the playground.
  • David has difficulty handling small objects and using tools such as pencils and scissors.
  • Jeremy has little interest in creative activities (drawing, crafts).
  • Vanessa has difficulty gaining independence for dressing, hygiene and toileting activities.
  • Julie does not easily communicate with others, has difficulty making eye contact and staying on topic, and is unable to tell stories without sharing countless unimportant details.
  • Madeleine has difficulty with task organization; she must be redirected at every stage of the process.
  • Toby has selective eating habits. Among other things, he refuses all mixed foods.
  • Emmet covers his ears and cries when there is music playing in the room; he also does not like bright lights and being touched by others.
  • Zachary is uncomfortable engaging in pretend play or creating scenarios with figurines.
  • Samuel often has tantrums for no obvious reason.
  • Gabriel has difficulty copying shapes, completing puzzles and building structures with blocks.
  • Toby is often agitated; he is also unable to fall asleep at naptime.
  • Melody has difficulty managing change and transitions; she does not adapt well when her early childhood educator is absent and needs to be replaced by another person.
  • Amelia has difficulty playing with friends and tends to walk away during group activities.
  • Lisa has atypical behavioural habits. Among other things, she likes spinning around in circles and is particularly interested in watching water drip from faucets.

I hope this article helped you gain a better understanding of occupational therapy.


If you would like to learn more about occupational therapy, you may watch this video about occupational therapy in the context of handwriting.


View video: What is Occupational Therapy (with children)?


Have a great day!


Josiane Caron Santha, occupational therapist



Pub bottom page theme

Back to Top