Simple Tips for Developing Handwriting Speed

Handwriting makes up a huge component of the school day.  We regularly receive reports from parents saying: “Homework takes forever”, “His teacher says that he never gets his work done”, “She has difficulty getting her thoughts onto the page”.  Does this sound familiar to you?

Efficient writing becomes more and more important as children progress through the school years. Many people assume that handwriting speed will naturally increase, however this is not always the case, for many children focused practise is essential.


3 foundation skills to work on before tackling handwriting speed:

The first step is to develop a functional pencil grasp so that pencil control can be achieved.  Here at Synchrony OT we use an aeroplane analogy:

  • Imagine that your pencil is an aeroplane.
  • Your thumb is the pilot and your pointer finger is the co-pilot. They sit up the front and fly the plane.
  • Your middle finger is the landing gear. It goes underneath the plane.
  • Your 4th and 5th fingers are the passengers. They stay tucked up the back.
  • The plane has to rest on the soft clouds (the webspace of the hand).

pencil grip

Secondly, children must develop consistent letter formation.  This is referred to as graphomotor automaticity, the ability to form the letters of the alphabet without having to cognitively think about their formation.  Check out our blog post for ideas on how to improve letter formation.

Once letter formation is consolidated, the third step is to focus on legibility, specifically being able to accurately place letters within the lines and space out words. Check out our blog post for ideas on how to improve handwriting neatness.

Only once these foundation skills are achieved is it possible to switch the focus to improving handwriting speed.

What handwriting speed is age appropriate for my child?

Dr Diane Jones has gained the following data for average handwriting speed in Australian students:

  • Grade 1: 26+ letters/min
  • Grade 2: 35 letters/min
  • Grade 3: 45 letters/min
  • Grade 4: 60 letters/min
  • Grade 5: 65 letters/min
  • Grade 6: 75 letters/min
  • Grade 7: 85 letters/min

Strategies to improve handwriting speed:

  • Write the alphabet on a daily basis. Use a timer to track progress.  Encourage your child to try and beat their time each instance that you practise.
  • The top 100 high frequency words make up almost 50% of all written text! Practise being able to write high-frequency words from memory. I often call these 3-second-words, aim to reach a stage where your child can write them automatically in 3 seconds flat.
  • Practise copying motivating blocks of text. Exploit your child’s interests.  They could write about their favourite computer game, favourite sport, a page from their favourite childhood book or even song lyrics.  Time your child and repeat the same sentence or paragraph on consecutive days with the goal to beat their score!
  • When copying, encourage your child to spell the whole word from memory. If there is a cluster of familiar words, see if they can remember a string of words at a time without having to look back.  Eventually they can work up to remembering the whole sentence.
  • Most importantly, provide heaps of encouragement and praise. To start with you might reward your child just for establishing a consistent practise routine, then slowly you can set higher targets as they improve their times.


-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

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Brain Training for Kids: The Interactive Metronome Program

imOver the past decade strong research has started to emerge that supports the concept of neuroplasticity- the notion that the pathways within the brain can be refined in order to enhance the brain’s learning capabilities.

To be successful in school children need to be able to master skills such as attention, memory, reading, writing, maths, emotional control, behaviour and motor coordination.  In order to master these skills the different parts of the brain must be able to work in synchrony.

For many of the children that I see, the pathways that connect crucial areas of the brain are underdeveloped.  Let me provide an analogy to help explain this.  If you have a high performance car and put in on autobahn it will perform the way that it should, it will be fast and efficient.  But if you put that same high performance car on a windy dirt road with pot holes and obstacles the car will not get to its destination efficiently if at all, it may get lost along the way or arrive too late to be of use.

The Interactive Metronome program is offered at Synchrony Occupational Therapy and aims to clear and refine the pathways that connect the different areas of the brain so that messages are sent with speed and efficiency and can then be used to complete functional activities with success and control.

im-2What is Interactive Metronome (IM)?

IM is an assessment and training program that improves attention, concentration, motor planning and sequencing.  Improvements in these areas result in more efficient motor control and coordination, enhanced balance, and improved language and cognition.

How Does IM Work?

IM provides a structured, goal-orientated program that challenges the child to synchronise a range of whole body exercises to a precise computer-generated beat.  The child attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor movements.  IM’s game-like features engage the child with auditory and visual guidance and provide real-time feedback while encouraging them to improve their scores.

What are the Benefits?

IM integrates sight, sound and physical movements to improve:

  • Working Memory: The ability to store information and ideas.  Memory is essential for word recognition, comprehension of complex sentences and remembering instructions.
  • Attention: The ability to focus on tasks and ignore distractions.  Vital for classroom performance and learning.
  • Processing: The rate at which your child is able to accurately perceive and manipulate information.
  • Sequencing: The ability to manipulate and organise information logically and complete tasks in the correct order.
  • Motor Coordination: The ability to use purposeful movements in a coordinated manner such as for activities tying shoe laces, riding a bike and handwriting.

Call or email to find out if your child would be eligible for the Interactive Metronome Program.

For further information  head to

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.

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Setting your child up for handwriting success: The developmental stages of drawing

Drawing is a big part of child development in the pre-school years.  It is a necessary foundation skill that allows children to develop their visual and fine motor skills prior to writing letters and numbers.  Every child develops at their own rate, however there is a general developmental sequence that all children follow.

Stages of drawing development:

Stage 1:  Exploration and Scribbling (15 months- 2 ½ years)

At this stage you can expect your child to make dots and scribbles on the page.  They will likely use a cylindrical or fisted grasp and use large whole arm movements when making pencil strokes.  Helpful activities include drawing with thick crayons on large pieces of butcher’s paper, painting at an easel, using thick chalk on driveway or using stamps on a Magna Doodle.

pencil grasp Erhardt 1982

Erhardt, 1982

Stage 2: Lines and Patterns (2 ½ – 3 ½ years)

At this stage you can expect your child to start making more controlled strokes such as circles, horizontal, vertical and curved lines.  They will now have the hand strength to start to transition to grasping the pencil between their fingertips and thumb, however their pencil strokes are still generated using large arm movements.  Activity ideas for this stage include simple colouring in books, drawing through large pathways and adding missing parts to pictures (e.g. put the legs on a caterpillar or the wheels on a car).


Stage 3: Representational Drawings (3 ½ -5 years)

At this stage you can expect your child to start using basic shapes and lines to form recognisable pictures.  Drawing recognisable pictures develops their cognitive planning and spatial skills. They will now have the ability to use a refined tripod grasp and gain increased control over their pencil strokes, keeping their shoulder and forearm steady whilst making small movements with their hands and fingers.  This additional pencil control will allow them to develop skills for colouring neatly within the lines.  Activity ideas at this stage include using stencils, completing dot-to-dots, copying pictures step by step and decorating paper craft creations.

drawing person

Stage 4: Letters and numbers (4 ½ – 6 years)

Once children have been practising their drawing skills for a number of years, their planning and pencil control are at a level that is supportive of learning number and letter formations!kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

5 Helpful Self-Regulation Resources for Kids

I often receive referrals for children who find it challenging to know how to behave appropriately across different settings (home, school, community).  We often refer to this skill as self-regulation.

Arts and crafts

Self-regulation requires 3 foundational skills:

  • Sensory regulation: The ability to manage and respond appropriately to sensory input from their environment.
  • Emotional Regulation: The ability to recognise body clues associated with different emotional levels and understand how others think and feel in response to these.
  • Executive functioning: The ability to have cognitive control over our behaviour. Our executive function skills include our ability to sustain attention, plan, problem solving and use positive self-talk.  These skills are vital for building a positive foundation for the development of resilience skills.

5 tools to assist your child to develop their self-regulation skills:

1. Breathe Think Do With Sesame (Free App)

I have found this a helpful tool for assisting children to calm down and learn problem solving strategies to persist with challenging tasks.  In the app, children can assist a friendly monster to work through the following common challenges:

  • Putting on shoes
  • Separating from parents
  • Going to sleep
  • Waiting their turn
  • Dealing with failure

2. Wonder Grove Play (Free educational video clips) 

This is a fantastic resource for teaching children about everyday social norms for both the classroom and in the playground.  I have found that children love watching the short animations which can then lead to discussions about what to do in their own everyday situations.  Check out the website for all of the videos, however our favourites include:

  • Keep your hands to yourself
  • Know how to handle a bully
  • Respect others on the playground
  • Use polite words
  • Ask the teacher for help

3. Model Me Kids (Educational DVD Series) 

There is a whole series of different DVDs available, however the two that we regularly use are:

  • Time for a Playdate: this video series teaches children some of the social skills that are needed for successful playdates such as:
    • Saying hello and goodbye
    • Sharing & taking turns
    • Losing is OK
    • Talking on topic
    • Answering
    • Packing up
  • Time for School: this video series teaches children some of the social skills that are needed within the context of school such as:
    • Listening to the teacher
    • Keeping hands to myself
    • Saying sorry
    • Sitting quietly
    • Raising my hand

 4. Class Dojo Growth Mindset Series (Free educational video clips) 

These educational clips introduce children to the concept of neuroscience and brain plasticity in an entertaining way that they can understand.  The series follows a friendly monster who is having difficulty at school.  Children learn about the following concepts:

  • The brain is like a muscle
  • Mistakes are no big deal, they can actually help us to learn
  • It is OK to ask for help
  • Trying challenging things is the only way to grow our brain

5. The Allen Adventure (Free App) 

This app is an interactive book which follows a friendly alien as he has to learn about appropriate behaviours at school such as:

  • How to join in a game
  • Sharing
  • Reading the emotions of others
  • Knowing how to respond when others are mean
  • Calming down

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.

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5 Core Strengthening Games Using a Therapy Ball

Core strength is an important underlying skill essential for both fine and gross motor tasks. The core consists of the abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles that run down the neck and back.  A strong core leads to improved posture which allows children to sit upright and have increased endurance for school-based work. It also provides a stable base to then be able to use the arms and hands with control for activities such as writing and cutting with scissors.

Core strengthening games:

One of our most popular items at the clinic is our peanut therapy ball (We order ours from HART Sports

  • Plank Pick-Up
    • Ask your child to lay on their stomach on the therapy ball.
    • Place motivating items out in front of them (toys, puzzle pieces etc.).
    • Ask them to walk out on their hands to collect the items.
    • The further you place the items away, the greater the challenge.
  • High Five Crunches
    • Ask your child to sit on the therapy ball.
    • Ask them to lean back, extending their arms overhead.
    • Then, get them to crunch back up and give you a high five as they return to the sitting position.
    • Aim to do 10 repetitions.
  • Bridges
    • Ask you child to sit on the therapy ball.
    • Ask them to slowly walk out their feet until they are lying with just their shoulders and neck on the ball.
    • Get them to raise their bottom so that their body is in a straight line from their head to their knees.
    • Slowly walk the feet back in to return to the sitting position.
    • Aim to do 10 repetitions.
  • Power Kicks
    • Ask you child to sit on the ground and lean back until they are propped up on their forearms.
    • Ask them to raise both feet off the ground into a table top position (knees bent at 90 degrees).
    • Roll the therapy ball towards them and get them to kick it back. They can kick one leg at a time or both together.
    • Aim to do 10 repetitions without letting their feet touch the ground in between turns.
  • Ball Explosions
    • Ask your child to lie on their stomach, lifting their arms and legs off the ground (superman position).
    • Roll the ball towards them and ask them to push it back using both their hands together.
    • Aim to do 10 repetitions without letting their arms and legs touch the ground in between turns.

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.


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Are My Child’s Skills on Track? Developmental Milestones for Pre-School Years

One of the most common queries from parents of pre-school children is wanting to know if their child’s skills are progressing typically. Whilst every child develops at their own rate there is a developmental progression for skills.  The lists below can provide a broad guide for typical milestones for 3, 4, and 5 year olds in relation to gross motor, fine motor and self-care skills.

home games

3 year olds:

  • Gross Motor :
    • Run with coordination
    • Jump with both feet leaving the ground
    • Throw at a target
    • Kick confidently
    • Catch a large ball against their chest
    • Walk on tip toes
    • Manage stairs independently
    • Pedal a tricycle
    • Balance on one foot for short periods e.g. 3 seconds
  • Fine Motor:
    • Complete easy puzzles
    • Grasp a pencil with their thumb and fingers
    • Draw vertical and horizontal lines and circle
    • Make continuous cuts with scissors
    • Build a tower 10 blocks high
    • Open and close containers independently
    • Use tools e.g. spades, fork, hammer, pencils, paint brushes, scissors.
    • Make simple forms with playdough e.g. snake, ball
    • Show a well developed hand preference
  • Self-Care:
    • Toilet independently except for wiping
    • Use a fork and spoon well
    • Spread with a knife
    • Pour a drink
    • Pull on pants
    • Find arm holes on shirts
    • Know front from back when dressing
    • Put on shoes
    • Brush teeth with assistance
    • Wash hands

boy puzzle

4 year olds:

  • Gross Motor:
    • Propel themselves on a swing
    • Walk across a balance beam
    • Walk heel to toe along a line
    • Manage stairs without having to hold on to the railing
    • Balance on one foot for over 5 seconds
    • Complete actions to songs
    • Climb up rungs of ladders
    • Complete a forward roll
    • Ride around obstacles on a tricycle
    • Bounce and catch a ball multiple times
    • Sit with legs crossed
  • Fine Motor:
    • Tripod grasp on pencil
    • Draw a cross, a person with head and 4 recognisable features, a recognisable house
    • Colours mostly in the lines
    • Cut on the line
    • Mange buttons
  • Self-Care:
    • Seldom have toileting accidents
    • Wash and dry hands independently
    • Shoes on correct feet
    • Dress with little assistance
    • Brush teeth
    • Swallow before taking another bite when eating

girl tying her shoes

5 year olds:

  • Gross Motor:
    • Sit with legs cross and upright posture for at least 15 mins
    • Balance for 10 seconds
    • Complete 10 hops on one foot
    • Jump over obstacles
    • Begin to be able to jump with a skipping rope
    • Clutch catch tennis balls
  • Fine Motor:
    • Mature tripod grasp
    • Draw a square and a triangle
    • Include complex details in drawings
    • Write their first name
    • Use squeeze toys e.g. spay bottle, tweezers, water pistols
    • Use keys to unlock and open
    • Cut around square with scissors
    • Spread with a knife
  • Self-Care:
    • Make a snack e.g. simple sandwich or cereal
    • Dress independently including fasteners
    • Independent toileting
    • Use a knife and fork for easy food
    • Blow nose
    • Attempt to tie shoes

If you feel like your child might be displaying difficulties with their gross motor, fine motor or self-care skills, Occupational Therapy can assist to ensure that their skills are developing on track!

kate headshot -Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

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Does Your Child Get Angry, Upset or Easily Distracted? how to Recognise Sensory Processing Difficulties

What is sensory processing?

Sensory processing is the ability to interpret information through our sensory systems.  Difficulties with sensory processing can greatly impact upon a child’s attention and behaviour.  Despite what is commonly referenced, we actually have 7 sensory systems:

  • Tactile
  • Auditory
  • Visual
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Vestibular (how we are moving)
  • Proprioceptive (how our body is positioned)

cheerful child with painted hands on white background

For each of the sensory systems we have an individual sensory threshold which is the limit for the amount of sensory input that we can tolerate.

Sensory sensitivity occurs when normal sensory input levels exceed a child’s threshold.  Many children in this category become easily overwhelmed or avoid sensory activities.  When they are exposed to sensory input that is beyond what they can tolerate a fight/flight/fright stress response can be triggered.

Conversely, sensory under-registration occurs when a child needs greater than normal levels of input to register.  Many children in this category tend to actively seek out additional sensory input.  If there is a mismatch between our sensory preferences and the environment performance can become unpredictable.

In the diagram below.  The green area shows the optimal range for a person with typical auditory processing.  The purple box shows the optimal range of a person with sensory sensitivity- noises that would typically be tolerable can elicit a stress response.

 sensory processing

 Signs your child might experience a sensory processing difficulty:

  • Cover their ears or become upset/agitate in response to loud noise
  • Become easily distracted/overwhelmed in busy environments
  • Avoid messy play
  • Hesitant to try new foods/very restricted diet
  • Bothered by clothing fabrics, seams in socks or wearing long sleeves
  • Dislike grooming tasks such as having hair brushed, washed or cut
  • Bump into or trip over things
  • Constantly moving/can’t sit still
  • Cautious on playground equipment
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Tantrums/ meltdowns
  • Poor attention

Many children can display these behaviours at one stage or another, however if sensory difficulties are interrupting their daily routines or disrupting learning, then intervention from an Occupational Therapist can be helpful.

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-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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Preparing for the NDIS

With the roll out of the NDIS reaching Brisbane in July this year we thought we would re-run our post about how you can start to prepare for the NDIS.

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing disability support.  It provides people with a permanent and significant disability, access to support to help them take part in everyday activities and to achieve their individual goals and aspirations.


What type of support can my child receive under the NDIS?

Supports must be deemed to be ‘reasonable and necessary’ and must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Help my child reach their goals and aspirations
  • Develop my child’s capacity to actively take part in the community
  • Foster greater independence for my child
  • Increase my child’s social participation
  • Represent value for money
  • Supports can assist your child with areas such as learning, daily living, accommodation, equipment/assistive technology, health, transport and hobbies.

What is the NDIA?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is an independent statutory agency whose role it is to implement the NDIS.

When does the NDIS start?

The NDIS is being progressively rolled out across Queensland.  On the 1st July 2017 the NDIS became available in Ipswich and the roll out will reach Brisbane in July 2018.

Is my child eligible for the NDIS?

Your child may meet the early intervention requirements if:

  • your child is aged 6 and under and has a developmental delay which results in difficulties in one or more of the areas of self-care, receptive and expressive language, cognitive development or motor development.
  • your child has a disability that is likely to be permanent or early supports would reduce how much help your child needs to do things in the future.

If your child is over 7 years of age they may be eligible to receive an individual support plan if:

  • your child is an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen who is a Protected Special Category Visa holder
  • your child has a permanent or significant disability that requires help from others to do things or requires the use of equipment or assistive technology.

Please refer to the NDIS access checklist to see if your child is eligible for the NDIS:  The NDIA can be contacted on 1800 800 110 to start the process and schedule a planning meeting.

If you currently receive disability services you will be contacted by the National Disability Insurance Agency before your area transitions.

What happens next?

The NDIS planning workbook is a helpful resource that can guide you through the 5 steps involved in developing a plan for your child:

  • Step 1 – Think about your needs and goals. Prior to your planning meeting it can be helpful to think about your child’s needs and goals.
  • Step 2 – Meet with your personal planner. It can be helpful to take your NDIS planning workbook with you to the planning meeting.  You can choose to have family, carers and friends accompany you to the meeting and assist in the decision-making process.  Your planner will assist you to develop a set of action steps to work towards achieving your goals.
  • Step 3 – Develop your plan and consider how to manage your supports. Based on the information gathered during the planning meeting your planner will determine which supports will best meet your needs.  You can choose to:
    • Manage your funding yourself
    • Nominate another person to manage your funding
    • Use a registered plan management provides
    • Ask the NDIS to manage your funding for you
  • Step 4 – Implement your plan. Following the planning meeting you will be sent a copy of your plan
  • Step 5 – Review your plan. You will review your plan with the NIDA at agreed review dates (approximately every 12 months). If your circumstances change, you can request a review at any time.

For more information please visit the NDIS website:

Upcoming events and information sessions can be found on the NDIS events calendar: headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.


Learning Disorders – Helping Aussie Kids

“Mum, I don’t want to go to school. I can’t read and everyone else already can. I feel stupid”screamed Ricky, throwing himself on his bed in tears. Unbeknown to Ricky and his Mum, he had an undiagnosed learning disorder.


School can be particularly hard for kids with a diagnosis of a “Specific Learning Disorder” (SLD). These kids have had the same opportunity to learn as their friends and have received similar support from their teachers, but still can’t acquire academic skills as fast as their peers. In fact, they are likely to be “well below average” compared to their class mates in one (or more) of the following areas:

1. Reading
2. Writing
3. Maths

Despite this, these kids usually have average intelligence and individual strengths. One boy I know had a SLD in writing but had still self-published a novel by the age of 9. Another 8 year old girl with a reading disorder had a special talent for sport and maths. Nevertheless, both of these kids needed support in school to keep up with their classmates so that they could reach their full potential.

Learning disorders are widely misunderstood, with some claiming that they do not exist. Others blame learning difficulties on a poor diet, ineffective teaching, bad parenting or plain lazy kids. This article aims to dispel the myths and clarify what learning disorders are.

How do I know if my child has a learning disorder?

The process of learning a school-based task (like reading) requires explicit instruction from teachers or parents. As a result, teachers are often the first to notice if a child is not picking up things in the classroom in the same way as others. If learning problems persist for more than 6 months, testing can be conducted by a psychologist to assess your child’s intelligence (IQ) and academic achievement. If there is a big difference between IQ and academic skills, then a specific learning disorder can be diagnosed.

Should I just wait and see as they might just catch up?

Research indicates that early intervention is the best, so if a problem is suspected, it is best to investigate it straight away so that your child can be supported in a way that will best support their learning. The brain is more malleable when kids are young, with new connections forming every minute of every day (known as “brain plasticity”), so it’s a perfect time to start interventions. As your child proceeds through school, each lesson is a building block for the next lesson. Therefore, it’s important to get the foundations right as doing so will make the rest of their schooling much easier for them. Just as it’s important to lay good foundations when building a house, it’s also important for foundational learning to be mastered before moving on to more complex learning tasks.

If my child has a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder, what support will my child be able to get at school?

With a diagnosis, your school will be able to adapt learning to best suit the needs of your child. The strategies that your psychologist recommends will be determined by your child’s individual learning profile. For example, some kids benefit from one on one instruction in classes, small group support, scribes, extra time, quieter working spaces, computer or iPad support, multi sensory learning (MSL), speech pathology interventions, occupational therapy, and so on. Importantly, psychological test results will also identify your child’s strengths. Parents and teachers can support the development of their child’s strengths by providing opportunities for them to practice and demonstrate their knowledge and ability. Doing so can help to bolster self-esteem, which can sometimes be negatively affected if kids start thinking they are dumb.

What support can my child access outside of school? 


With an appropriate and qualified provider, this is an excellent form of outside support for students with a SLD who:

  • are slightly behind in a specific area
  • have had time away from school
  • have come from a different learning background
  • do not have consistent support at home to complete their homework and assignment tasks
  • lack confidence in learning
  • have an interest in a particular area such as a second language, technology or drama

Deliberate Success

Very often when a child has been diagnosed with a learning difficulty their sense of academic self-esteem has been knocked around – they often do not feel that they are good at anything, they do not feel that they are making progress in learning and quite frequently, they do not want to go to school. For these children it is essential to find a strength or interest so that deliberate measures can be made for them to succeed.  A recent example of this occurred when a young girl who was diagnosed with attention control difficulties and dyslexia commenced circus training in out-of-school time. This gave her the chance to burn energy and gave her the satisfaction of success and enjoyment of doing something that she was good at. Her teacher also gave her the opportunity to share this success with her class.

Positive family routines

  1. Read, Read, Read!

  • Support your child to always have a book to read and the next one planned
  • Don’t just read the book … discuss the pictures, ask what they expect will happen next, spend some time helping kids to understand unfamiliar words, check that they understand the story (comprehension) by asking questions
  • Join the council library and make regular visits
  • Let your children see you reading
  • Share your favourite books from childhood
  • Listen to your child read aloud all through primary school
  • Make sure that your child reads a variety of books – fiction and non-fiction
  • Share interesting articles from the internet, newspapers and magazines
  • Play word games and do puzzles
  1. Homework- some but not too much!

  • Supporting your child to do a small amount of homework each day will not only strengthen their ability to develop their own routines, it will lead to better learning outcomes. The child who does a small amount of reading and homework each day will make better progress than the child who does it all in one long sitting.
  • Take some time to plan the week with your child so that they are aware of what days and times of their commitments and when they will have some down time.
  • Try to make homework fun. For example, read while sitting on a picnic rug, practice writing in sand or on a white board, play snap or scrabble together as a family.
  • Make sure that homework is balanced with plenty of unstructured, outdoors play. Rest, recreation and sleep are essential for brain development.


-Dr Amy Kelly, Child Psychologist, Whole Heart Psychology.

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Is my child ready to start toilet training?

Occupational Therapists regularly assist with helping children to become independent in managing their self-care tasks.  Toilet training and making the transition from nappies to using the toilet can be challenging for many children.

toilet training

How do I know my child is ready?

The following behaviours are good indicators that your child is ready to commence toileting training:

  • Stays dry at least 2 hours at a time during the day or is dry after naps
  • Bowel movements become regular and predictable
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Undresses themselves independently
  • Shows discomfort or takes off dirty nappies
  • Is comfortable sitting on the toilet

Once your child is showing the above signs you are ready to start teaching them about the process of going to the toilet.

Top 5 strategies to assist with toilet training:

  • Trace an outline around your child’s body on butcher’s paper. Outline on the diagram what happens in our digestive system, all the way from eating food to it being turned into wees and poos.
  • Use dolls and a doll’s house to role play the process of going to the toilet.
  • Make a homemade story book that includes your child’s favourite fictional character and how they learned to use the toilet.
  • Tom’s Toileting Triumph is short cartoon animation on the ‘Are You Ready’ DVD. It clearly explains the toileting process and how to recognise the sings that they need to go to the toilet.
  • Incentive systems are really important. Use a sticker chart to reward small steps and work towards a larger prize.kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

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