Occupational Therapy Workshops

Occupational Therapy Initiative in Spa National School

In September 2013, Spa National School was delighted to accept the opportunity to pilot a new and innovative exercise programme. This programme was designed to help children acquire the motor and sensory skills they need for effective learning. It was targeted towards children with a wide range of abilities and needs.  Mary Rose Benner, a Paediatric Occupational Therapist with extensive experience in a school setting arrived every Wednesday and Friday morning for three thirty minute sessions. Eighteen children were involved in this initial pilot programme and the programme was tailored to meet the needs of each individual child.

“Children are asked to sit for long periods during the school day, which requires a lot of effort on their part. Spa N.S.’s Occupational Therapy workshops are based on the belief that, if given the opportunity, children know what they need to feel calm, centred and alert. Ultimately they are designed to make children more successful in the classroom” 

(Mary Rose Benner, Paediatric Occupational Therapist).

 All staff members assisted with the roll out of the programme. The programme was so successful and the feedback so positive that it was agreed to continue with the initiative. These classes have proven very popular with the children who have taken part. They have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Classes take part in the school hall and a variety of equipment is used including yoga balls, tennis balls, scooters, tunnel and benches.

Examples of exercises include

·         Weight Bearing exercises that build strength and physical endurance, like wall push-ups

·         Hanging from a chin-up bar.

·         Jumping and rolling head over heels on mattresses.

·         Skipping- requires timing, co-ordination and endurance.

·         Letter and number target games (activities that require visual tracking with co-ordinated arm and hand movements, such as throwing and catching a beanbag and throwing a beanbag to a target while staying on a trampoline).

·         Deep pressure massage with therapy ball providing a calming effect

The O.T. programme has been developed even further this year with resource teachers Ms. Jacqui Kelly & Ms Lorna Hickey coordinating the extension and  development of the workshops. Every class is getting the opportunity to participate in a weekly session where they can  try a combination of games, yoga poses, drills and occupational therapy exercises. The school is also building up valuable resources which can be used in whole class and group settings.

 ‘The students  love coming to the classes every Wednesday and Friday and it is terrific to observe the positive effect this programme has had on them particularly in developing confidence, self-esteem and a ‘can-do’ attitude’ ( Ms. Kelly & Ms Hickey).

The feedback from our parents has been extremely positive. Mary Rose Benner too has been delighted with the success of the programme.

 “Over the past year I have watched your children grow and develop. I have seen them try and try and succeed in doing a task that they either could not do or thought they would never be able to do. All we did was offer them the place, support and encouragement- and they leave the hall walking tall!!’

        This is the third year of the Occupational Therapy Workshops at Spa N.S. The children are now skilled enough to do their exercises at home. All that is required is a safe place and a yoga mat. We encourage the whole family to get involded and take five minutes to their yoga poses together on a daily basis.

Downward Dog Magic Table Up the Wall Invisible Chair Cobra            Boat
Sun Salutation Owl pose Plank Alternate Breathing Warrior 1, 2, 3 Superkid
Squat Push the Car One Legged Squat The Crow Snowball               Superperson

          Ms Kelly & Ms Hickey held a whole class occupational therapy workshop day for firve weeks every Friday in January and February. Every class from juniors up was invited to the halla whereby they engaged in OT station teaching under the supervision of the teachers. Here they experienced jumping on the trampoline and balance, tunnel obstacle course, upper body rope pulling movements, balancing and even some gymnastics. It was a huge success and some class teachers are even going to continue it in the coming weeks.

See the classes below

Scooter TimeDSC00092


Boot Camp DrillsDSC00056

Deep Pressure RollDSC00113

Hold on!!


Throwing & catching


Meditation TimeDSC00078

Tunnel Fun