Academic / School Skills

Academic / school skills relate to the skills needed to be successful within the educational environment. Some of the things we focus on at school include:

  • Coping with school demands
  • Completing homework
  • Sitting exams
  • Attention and concentration
  • Being organised
  • Increasing executive functioning skills
  • Handwriting
  • Spelling
  • Drawing and colouring
  • Scissor skills
  • Posture and seating
  • Managing the environment

Some of the building blocks to developing academic / school skills include:

  • Sensory processing and self-regulation
  • Motivation, self-esteem, and confidence
  • Increasing attention, awareness, and concentration levels
  • Planning and sequencing
  • Coping skills and strategies
  • Organisational, environmental management, and self-management skills
  • Visual perception
  • Postural control
  • Fine motor skills, hand strength, and pencil grasp
  • Cognition
  • Executive functioning skills

Some of the activities, strategies, and approaches that we may include within therapy are:

  • Repeating instructions
  • Sensory diet, movement breaks, or sensory circuits
  • Working at eye level and using simple language
  • Reducing background noise and distractions
  • Narrowed focused tasks
  • Visual schedule
  • Timers
  • Spelling, handwriting, drawing, colouring, and using scissors
  • Visual cues
  • Breaking tasks down into smaller chunks
  • Creating to do lists and using diaries
  • Sequencing activities
  • Practising goal setting


One of the biggest skill difficulties at school is handwriting; despite the rise in the use of technology within the classroom setting. Handwriting is a complex perceptual-motor skill that requires multiple functions. There are many components to handwriting meaning children may experience difficulty with one area or multiple areas.

Some of the common difficulties observed include:

  • Poor pencil grasp
  • Limited interest in fine motor, mark making, and handwriting activities
  • Poor, incorrect, or inconsistent letter formation
  • Speed and fluency of the writing

Children who find handwriting challenging can perform poor within their academic performance as a result.

Some of the foundations to handwriting include:

  • Fine motor coordination
  • Posture
  • Letter formation
  • Visual perception skills
  • Pencil grasp, pencil control, and pencil pressure
  • Alignment and spacing
  • Handwriting speed and size
  • Paper positioning and helping hand

Some of the activities, strategies, and approaches that we may focus on include:

  • Recommendation of assistive devices such as a pencil grip, sloped writing board, or move ‘n’ sit wedge
  • Recommending alternative forms to support written passages; such as, an iPad or laptop
  • Hand strengthening and fine motor activities
  • Gross motor and postural control exercises
  • Following a handwriting programme such as ‘Handwriting Without Tears (HWT)’

Seirrah OT can help children and adolescents to develop handwriting skills by first carrying out an assessment to identify the underlying causes for experiencing the difficulties. Part of the assessment may include observations, administering standardised assessment tools, taking a history profile from parents, and completing school questionnaires.

Following assessment, the Occupational Therapist will work with you and your child to establish treatment goals, and create an individualised programme which may include extra-curricular activities, specific exercises, and targeted activities to be completed on a regular basis. The Occupational Therapist will ensure various approaches to intervention are explored to enable them to work with the individual and their individual needs.

School Readiness

In preparation for a child starting school it is good to practise the appropriate skills required to aid optimal learning and to repeat the learning of those skills through activities on a daily basis.

The building blocks to developing school readiness include:

  • Self-regulation in managing behaviour, attention, and activity levels
  • Emotional development
  • Sensory processing
  • Planning and sequencing
  • Social skills
  • Executive functioning

A possible indication that your child is experiencing difficulty with school readiness include:

  • Becomes easily frustrated when expectations are placed upon them
  • Finds it difficult to follow instructions in daily activities
  • Not willing or does not appear to know how to engage in learning activities
  • Has limited or under developed play skills
  • Demonstrates little or no social skills and avoids interaction with peers
  • Have limited self-help skills such as toileting or dressing skills
  • Shows limited or no interest in sitting down to engage in activities

Some of the activities, strategies, and approaches that we may include within therapy are:

  • Increasing the parent’s expectations in relation to self-help activities
  • Introducing routines
  • Focusing on social and play skills
  • Exposure to books and table top activities
  • Early preparation for school based tasks and activities
  • Collaborating with the teaching personnel
  • Visual strategies
  • Outings in the community
  • Fine and gross motor skill development

If you feel that your child needs support in either preparation for starting school or for academic activities such as handwriting, please contact our team for more information on how Seirrah OT can support, either by email: or call: 02920 023314

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02920 023314

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The MAT Centre,
Walnut Tree Farm Park,
St.Brides, NP10 8SQ

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