In this new blog in the Voices Series, Registered Occupational Therapist, Marisa Machado, OTR, shares some tips on getting started with online therapy and keeping your students engaged. Her online therapy activities work on visual motor, visual perceptual, handwriting, fine motor, and keyboarding goals.
Online therapy can be challenging at times, especially for new teletherapists. I still find myself scratching my head on what to do in order to keep the students alert and attentive. From my experience, the best way to approach students in the virtual school setting is to find common ground and let the student lead the way!
When assessing my students, some goals I tend to gravitate towards are visual motor, visual perceptual, handwriting, fine motor, and keyboarding. These goals are relevant and a ‘must-have’ in the online school setting, especially during this time of COVID-19 when many students will be participating in the virtual world of academics.
Here are some tips and activities that I hope will help you as you begin your career as a teletherapist!
Handwriting and keyboarding
One thing I find super important in the pediatric OT world and the online setting is handwriting and typing. When I worked in the school setting, I found all my students who struggled in handwriting would also significantly struggle with keyboarding skills. When I began working in the online therapy setting, I discovered that it was the exact same.
After thorough research, I found two common misconceptions:
- Learning to type is easy
- Students that have difficulty with handwriting will learn to type easily
Rather, these two skills go hand-in-hand. For example, if a child has difficulty with motor planning such as bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual perceptual and fine motor, then typically his/her handwriting will also have these difficulties when initially learning to use a keyboard to type. Therefore, I always try to incorporate this in my IEP goals.
Roll-A-Story with virtual dice is story writing and handwriting with fine motor and pencil control exercise using paper/pencil. I usually email the parent handwriting worksheets for the month and ask the family to provide a plastic sheet protector and dry erase marker for session use.
Tidbit for handwriting during an online therapy session
Handwriting can be tricky at times. Ideally, a separate webcam would be helpful, however, most students don’t have this available. Therefore, I found if the student would simply push the computer back, this helps provide more handwriting space on the table and positions the camera so I am able to see their writing skills effectively. This of course takes trial and error.
Other online therapy activities for OT goals
Visual motor skills
My students enjoy using various apps and website with activities like:
- Follow the path
- Digital coloring pages
- Interactive games with Connect Four, Tic-tac-toe, and Battleship
Numerous websites have keyboarding games. These are some of my favorites:
- Dance Mat typing
- Speed Typing
- Word processor activities
Visual perceptual skills
One website I frequently use is Digipuzzle for matching cards, mazes, puzzles, word searches, Find the Difference, Labyrinth and Mosaics.
The best thing about teletherapy is during sessions we are able to educate the parent and student at the same time. I find this ensures better carryover at home. I try to send OT resources monthly to parents so they are aware of their students progress and provide resources for continued education within the home environment.
For more teletherapy activities to use in your own online therapy sessions, check out the Activities category of the E-Therapy blog.