Let me begin by saying thank you, thank you, thank you! Every time I step foot into a school, I am reminded that yours is a job for which I am not cut out.
Any teacher who has been in the profession for a while would probably agree that teaching has changed, a great deal, over the years. Larger class sizes filled with students with different needs is just one of the many challenges you face. I don’t think that any of you would argue with me that you have more and more children in your classes who can’t sit still, can’t sit up, can’t focus, can’t keep their hands to themselves, or can’t keep their pencil or shirt out of their mouth. Not to mention those students who shut down, act out, are disruptive to the class, whose handwriting is illegible, or who struggles with reading, spelling, and math.
After spending enough time in schools and talking to enough teachers, one thing became very obvious to me; there are a growing number of children in your classes who are struggling and you can’t always put your finger on why or what exactly you can do to help them. The root of some of these children’s problems gets recognized and they are led to Occupational Therapy services or to the other necessary services. However, it is often hard to get to the root of the problem for many of these children and, therefore, the understanding of what to do to help them remains a mystery. These children continue to advance from one grade to the next with more and more demands placed on them as they advance. The problem is, though, that they don’t outgrow their struggles, instead they start to multiply and snowball and things get worse and worse.
I want to help you understand the whys and the whats and that is why I want to make sure that this website if filled with helpful information and ideas for you as educators. You can tell your students to sit still, sit up, get their shirt out of their mouth, keep their hands to themselves, or stay focused until you are blue in the face but often times this is a nearly impossible task for these children. So often the struggles that your students are experiencing fall under the “sensory umbrella”. If you have not received specific training in this, however, it is not always clear that that their sensory system is the root of the problem and they are just deemed as kids who can’t focus, have ADD, are troublemakers, etc.
While I don’t know if I would survive one day as a teacher, as an Occupational Therapist I get the chance to work one on one with some of these students who are struggling. Because of this, I have the opportunity to get to the root of the problem and want to share what I know with you to help make your job a little easier. To help you understand the why and the whats, I have broken the information down into a 3 step process we call the BWF Process:
- Step 1 will give you information to help you understand what forms children’s foundation for learning using the diagram of the “Building Blocks of Learning”. This step will also help you understand how important of a role the sensory system plays in forming that foundation and in learning. You will also find a Sensory Checklist here which you will find helpful in realizing exactly which struggles that you see in your students fall under the “sensory umbrella” so that you can then help to ensure that they get the proper help that is needed.
- Step 2 is there to give you information regarding what you might see (signs and symptoms) when your students are struggling with their sensory foundation and their foundation for learning.
- Step 3 will give you an idea of activities that can be used both in the home or incorporated into the classroom that will help to give children the vital sensory input that they need to build their foundation for learning.
Take some time to look through my blogs as I feel you will find many of them to be helpful to you in the classroom. I blog frequently about tips and tricks that can be used in the classroom for all children but especially those who are craving that extra sensory input or seem overwhelmed by it. As an OT, I specialize in helping children form good handwriting skills and then remediating bad ones. I am well aware of the fact that poor handwriting skills are becoming a bigger and bigger problem amongst our children so I frequently give handwriting tips in my blogs.
I hope that this website will help you gain some clarity and insight regarding your students and their struggles and help to make your job a little bit easier. I also hope that you can pass this information on to your students’ parents so that they may gain that same clarity and insight regarding their children.
One last thing…Here at BuildingWriteFoundations, we’d like to sincerely say “Thanks again for all you do!”