What is Occupational Therapy for Children?

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that helps individuals of all ages engage in meaningful activities, overcome challenges, and achieve independence in their daily lives.

Children's occupations refer to the activities and tasks that are meaningful and purposeful to them, allowing them to learn, develop, and engage with their environment. These occupations vary depending on the child's age, developmental stage, and cultural context. Here are some examples of children's occupations:

  1. Play: Play is a vital occupation for children. It includes various forms such as imaginative play, pretend play, construction play, physical play, and board games. Play allows children to explore, experiment, develop creativity, problem-solving skills, social interaction, and emotional expression.

  2. Self-Care: Self-care occupations involve activities necessary for personal hygiene and independence, such as dressing, bathing, brushing teeth, toileting, and feeding. As children grow, they gradually develop the skills to perform these activities independently.

  3. Learning and Education: School-related occupations include attending school, participating in classroom activities, engaging in academic tasks, reading, writing, and completing assignments. It encompasses both formal education and informal learning experiences.

  4. Social Interactions: Interacting with peers, siblings, parents, and caregivers is a significant occupation for children. It involves building relationships, sharing, taking turns, cooperating, communicating, and engaging in social activities.

  5. Chores and Responsibilities: As children grow older, they may take on age-appropriate responsibilities and chores at home or in the community. These occupations can include tidying up their room, setting the table, helping with household tasks, and participating in community service activities.

  6. Hobbies and Recreation: Engaging in hobbies and recreational activities is an important part of children's occupations. It may involve participating in sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, reading for pleasure, gardening, and other activities that bring joy and personal fulfilment.

  7. School-Based Occupations: In a school setting, children's occupations also include participating in physical education, art, music, and other specialised classes. It involves engaging in classroom routines, following instructions, completing assignments, and using school materials and tools.

  8. Rest and Sleep: Adequate rest and sleep are essential occupations for children, contributing to their physical and mental well-being. It involves establishing healthy sleep routines and engaging in relaxation activities.

These occupations are integral to children's development, well-being, and learning. Occupational therapists in paediatric settings often focus on promoting children's engagement and success in these meaningful activities to enhance their overall growth and development.

As an Occupational Therapist who works predominately in Early Education the focus in on the working collaboratively with Education professionals. Together, we work in a collaborative model to support children's engagement in the activities that are and/or will create meaning for the children. This work looks a lot like coaching, mentoring and using tools such as video to reflect on current practices, and collaborate to enhance or adapt for all children in their care. 

If you would like to connect about collaborating within your Early Learning setting, please email me at [email protected] or connect with me on instagram at @sallygalloway_ot