Visual Exercises and Motor Labs

February 20, 2020 no comments Kristine Stout Categories Uncategorized

There are a couple new things happening at Freeman in the special education department that are helping students’ bodies and minds become engaged and ready to learn.  These activities are being completed in the occupational therapy room and the Title 1 reading room.  

Teri Nieveen, the Title 1 reading teacher, has noticed over the years that some of her students that struggle with reading have difficulty keeping track of what words they are on, they move their heads while they read, when having the students look at her board the students struggle to find what she is pointing to, and when asked to look at a picture or her book they can’t keep their eyes on the book without them darting off the target.  Together with the OT’s guidance, Teri has been completing visual exercises daily to strengthen the kids abilities to move their eyes independent from their body, focus, track and cross their midline which affects speeds of processing. She is also including vestibular movement prior to her reading to activate parts of the brain necessary for auditory comprehension and focus. All of this within 5 minutes prior to her reading group. These exercises do not replace vision therapy or OT but are used to enhance the student’s visual skills.  

A program called Ready Bodies Learning Minds Motor Lab has been implemented in the occupational therapy (OT) room and under supervision from the OT and training to paraprofessionals.  Students are using this space 2-4 times a week. The goal of a Ready Bodies Learning Minds Motor Lab is to help children develop the skills necessary for learning readiness, gain mastery of their environment, and to have fun while doing it!  Many of these skills are motor based. Handwriting, sitting still, paying attention, speaking, and behavior are all performances based on a child’s ability to maneuver and function in his /her environment. The more aware he/she is of his environment and the more he learns about the sensations of his own movement, the better he can control himself and accomplish tasks.

This is not intended to be a replacement for Physical Education, but instead is intended as a base for the skill building of Physical Education, as well as building a structure for the acquisition of academic skills. Each time students come to the Motor Lab, we begin and end with a couple of stretching exercises that are reflexive in nature.  This means that we go to the very base of motor learning-the primary movement patterns that are the beginning of motor control.  

Ready Bodies, Learning Minds (RBLM) is a comprehensive approach to understanding how sensory integration and motor control drives learning, and therefore the performance, of our children. RBLM clarifies these powerful relationships and then delivers powerful, hands-on tools for therapists, teachers and staff to assist children.

Under the direction of Occupational Therapist Tiffany Wallman, a Ready Bodies Learning Minds Motor Lab is available to elementary students at Diller-Odell Public Schools since the start of 2019 school year.  Their program is utilized by all students in all grades and is run with support from the classroom teachers and paraprofessionals after training from Tiffany. The students and teachers are seeing positive results in the classroom!  

For more information:

Motor Lab: A Sensory Motor Approach to Strengthening Academic Foundations


Kristine Stout, Occupational Therapist