On The Other Hand Therapy Preschool and Kindergarten Motor Groups

Overview
Program Premise
The Motor Group Team
Program Logistics
Educator and Parent Testimonials
More Information

Overview

The preschool motor group (PMG) concept was inspired by Athena Oden, a physical therapist (PT), creator of the Ready Bodies, Learning Minds curriculum and initially was a collaboration with Shannon Paglieri, also a PT. The program is a 40 minute weekly developmental motor lab that offers a unique combination of sensory integration and motor activity to help pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students gain foundational skills that promote later academic and athletic success. During the sessions, the children rotate among multi-sensory stations, enabling them to strengthen their core muscles, inhibit immature movement patterns, foster eye-hand coordination, mature their brain/body connections, and engage the three senses that tend to be under-stimulated in the school setting: proprioceptive, tactile, and vestibular. Most importantly, the activities are age-appropriate, challenging, fun, and social. To see a sample lesson plan, look here.

The children give the program rave reviews, but so do preschool and kindergarten teachers! Laura collaborates with the teachers to provide modeling for the activities, extensive information on each child’s progress, and recommendations and support for carrying over the motor movements into the classroom. Laura also provides specific suggested activities for home implementation in an easily-accessible format for busy parents and caregivers. To see a sample of the teacher and caregiver handouts, look here.

Program Premise

Children learn best when their brains and bodies have had the opportunity to practice and develop a wide range of movements that enable attention, balance, body awareness, core activation, fluid movements, focus, head control, postural stability, and rhythmicity. But owing to a range of environmental, cultural, and social factors, the incidence of children entering kindergarten who are not developmentally ready for formal learning grows year upon year. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation even more, depriving children of essential opportunities to play on playgrounds and with peers. During the preschool years, there is the greatest amount of time to develop foundational sensory motor skills, as well as the greatest amount of brain plasticity to enable permanent changes in the brain and body.  

Unfortunately, many preschool and kindergarten teachers and staff report that they have not had the training to detect developmental gaps during the preschool years, leaving children vulnerable to a range of learning challenges once they reach formal schooling. While many preschools offer opportunities for gross motor movement time, just moving itself is not adequate. Many children do not know how to participate in free play movement experiences, or they avoid movements that may be challenging, yet necessary, for their whole brain/body development. Children need to be guided in their motor skill development by professionals trained to identify gaps, just as they need to be guided in the development of social and fine motor skills during their preschool years. There is increasing evidence that young children who participate regularly in specific, directed, playful developmental motor movements create a solid foundation upon which later academic learning and achievement can be built.  

Please note that none of the exercises or activities used in the motor group program are dangerous or would in any way harm a child. These are “normal” childhood movements, though they may be unfamiliar to some children. For that reason, multiple adults will be present to monitor and assist the children as they rotate through the stations. The adults’ focus will be helping the children to develop smooth, coordinated, controlled movements, not doing gymnastics or tumbling.

The Motor Group Team

Pediatric occupational therapist Laura Clubok, MS, OTR/L, created the preschool motor group concept, wrote the curriculum, and has implemented it successfully at multiple preschools and elementary schools in the Columbus area over the past 13 years. Laura earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her master’s degree in occupational therapy (OT) from Tufts University. Born with a hand difference, Laura began receiving OT services starting at the age of 8, igniting a passion for her profession at an early age. Over the past two decades, Laura has worked in RTI settings with typically-developing students and provided pediatric OT services to children ages 3-13 with behavioral, cognitive, and sensory difficulties, presented to local educators and parents about fine motor skill development and movement, and collaborated and consulted with educators on handwriting instruction and incorporating multisensory learning into school curricula. Laura lives in Bexley with her husband and two teenage daughters.

The On The Other Hand Therapy motor group team also includes pre-OT, pre-PT, and pre-SLP undergraduate interns studying Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at local colleges. In addition to their academic studies, the interns receive extensive training from Laura to prepare them to work directly with the children.  

Program Logistics

  • Laura owns the equipment to run the program, but it is advisable that selected equipment is purchased for carryover into the preschool curriculum
  • Parents/caregivers are asked to complete a participation waiver/release of liability for their children to participate in the program
  • The undergraduate interns’ colleges create an agreement with the Preschool and On the Other Hand Therapy to enable a partnership among the three entities

Educator and Parent Testimonials

Every day that she had the motor group, she was so excited to show me the movements she had learned. I’m glad that it was a fun experience for her, and I’m more pleased that she has a stronger readiness to enter Kindergarten next year. She has made so many gains this year – I know partly just because she’s simply getting older, but the gains have been so significant that I have to say THANK YOU!  I now believe my daughter truly is ready for formal learning.

A.J., parent

The preschool motor group has been an amazing addition to our preschool. The children love it and my teachers love it… I have been impressed with the improvement it has made for our children. I have seen a clear connection between the movement-based exercises and the children’s ability to learn and focus in the classroom. It is fun and engaging for all of the children, and our preschool is much stronger because of it.      

BS, preschool director

More Information

For more information or to request a live viewing of the motor group, please contact us.

© 2023. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy

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