You’ll see, as soon as your child is in Grade 1 you’ll be told they need OT.” Mothers of preschool kids are likely to hear this from fellow moms at some point. And it seems that an increasing number of children are being referred for occupational therapy (OT). Parents are told their kids need it because they can’t skip properly or walk on a balance beam. But does it really matter? Surely they’ll get the hang of these things sooner or later? It matters a great deal, says Grade 1 teacher Kathy Whittemore of Edgemead Primary School in Cape Town, because these simple things affect a child’s ability to learn. Over the years she’s noticed a decline in the physical abilities of many children, particularly those coming into Grade 1.
TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME
“In a class of about 30 pupils, it’s not uncommon for at least 20 children to need some form of intervention,” she says. It’s not that teachers are jumping on the OT bandwagon, Whittemore adds. It’s simply become clear that young kids are lacking certain skills – and that the root of the problem is too little play and too much screen time. Cape Town-based occupational therapist René Lynch-Clifford says she’s definitely seen an increase in the need for OT for children over the past three to five years, especially in the three- to six-year-old age group.