WHY I Use as Few Physical Materials in Virtual Occupational Therapy Sessions As Possible

I am a BIG fan of using as FEW materials as possible in my online occupational therapy sessions. WHY?

Welcome to Post 5 in our ‘Start the Therapy Year Off Right’ Series! WHY I use as few physical materials in my online occupational therapy sessions as possible.

1. Parents these days are overwhelmed.

Coronavirus, job stress, school stress, etc. The list is endless. It is too much for many parents to remember to collect materials for a therapy session. They just do not have the time. We are lucky they show up for sessions! (See my post here on increasing your session attendance with calendar reminders!).

2. When I did virtual OT, the parents CHOSE virtual school for their children.

They were invested, they understood the time commitment of being a learning coach, etc. If you are working in that environment right now, count yourself lucky! And even then I chose to use as few physical materials as possible!

Most families did not choose to do school at home right now. Distance learning may have been forced on families because schools have closed, or they chose not to go back because of the health concerns of their family or children. The stress on families right now is unbelievable.

3. Now more than ever kids are typing almost everything after elementary school.

In our district, all middle and high schoolers were given computers before the pandemic. Now, the kids are on them even younger. So after about 4th grade – let's focus on increasing success with typing and other school activities. This may use materials to increase hand strength or fine motor control, but nothing too elaborate, we are supporting school function and participation.

4. It reduces planning time!

Fewer materials equal fewer emails before sessions to families. And less risk of the family not collecting the materials and you having to think of a new activity on the spot! (Has that happened to you? It sure has to me!)

5. Relationships with the children and families are a valuable asset.

Even over zoom, focus on your relationship. Be fully present in your sessions, ask the kids how they are doing, check in with families to see where they need your help. Having worked in Early Intervention within a parent coaching model, I saw how successful this model can be, Just like when we are physically in the schools and we successfully use the consulting model with teachers. Occupational Therapy has so much to offer our children and families!

What materials do I use in sessions?

  1. A good handwriting program! There are several that already incorporate many OT principles. I am currently recommending the Handwriting Heroes program. (Another post to come about why I love it soon!)
  2. A sensory program. I have used both the Alert Program and Zones of Regulation programs.
  3. Easily found household materials for warm-ups – coins, pencils, paper, scissors, playdoh, maybe toothpicks.
  4. Worksheets – some to print but mostly no print activities to show onscreen
  5. Youtube videos – make a folder of your favorite sensory and warm-up activities!
  6. Websites with games and activities

I hope this gives occupational therapy practitioners some food for thought when planning their online Occupational Therapy sessions. Let me know your thoughts below!

The next post will be about how I easily plan and structure my online sessions!

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