Full name: Penelope Dalton
Qualification: Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy)
Q – How long have you been a practicing Speech Pathologist?
A – I’ve been a practising O.T for forty years.
Q – Do you often treat children in the preschool or early schooling years?
A – I work with children of varying ages – from two years right up to eighteen years. However the majority are preschoolers, early infancy and primary school children.
Q – Over recent years, have you witnessed any new trends or changes concerning age-appropriate development, during your dealings with younger children?
A – Yes, over recent years I noticed a decrease in functional gross and fine motor skills. Self regulation issues. I’ve become much more aware of sensory processing issues in younger children.
Q – Are there particular areas you’d recommend that Educators or parents should be focusing on with preschool aged children to prepare them for school?
A – Yes, the areas I reccommend focusing on in the early years include:
- Fine motor strength / dexterity activities
- Pencil to paper tasks.
- Visual focus or attention activities – like hands-on games, puzzles and problem solving exercises.
- Gross motor activities – get outdoors and amongst nature.
Q – Do you have any favourite preschool speech pathology focused activities that you could share with us?
A – I recommend the website Growing Hands on kids. It offers activity sheets you can sit down and work together on. I’ve included a few of my favourites below for some guidance.
NOTE/ The below image offers a great selection of tasks and activities for hand development – strengthening little hands and wrists. Things like playdough are brilliant, and may people may not actually realise that it’s beneficial while being a fun activity for children.
Q – If, as an Educator or parent, you have concerns about the development of a child in your care, what’s the best course of action?
A – As an Educator – the first step should be a discussion with the parent/s.
As a parent – discuss your concerns initially with your child’s Educator to see if they share similar concerns.
If neccessary, speak to your health professional: your child’s doctor, who’ll then help refer you on to a specialist like an O.T, speech pathologist, physio or psychologist.
Thanks so much for your professional insights Penny! Your decades of experience are invaluable.