Date of Award
Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Child, Preschool; Child Behavior; Child Development; Early Intervention (Education)
More children are entering school "not ready." Current research is showing that many "healthy" children are entering school not developmentally ready for formal learning. Based my own experiences working as a school occupational therapist for the past four years in rural area schools, this new trend is becoming more apparent. Teachers and other school professionals have increasing concerns over the numbers of children that seem "clumsy" or "awkward" compared to their peers. Children are expected to learn more than ever before upon entering school, the curriculum is no longer age-appropriate due to the pushing down of academics. Upon entrance to kindergarten, these children struggle to perform school tasks asked of them and the concern is if the readiness gaps are not addressed early on that these children will struggle even more in later years.
It has been found through the literature and from personal experience that children in Title I schools are particularly vulnerable to lack readiness because of cultural, environmental, and/or economic deprivation. A current study by the Minnesota Department of Education in 2004, found that 28% of 4,000 children assessed in Minnesota kindergartens performed skills at a level that made them "not ready" for academic learning in kindergarten.
In response to these concerns and findings, a program that has caught the attention of many educators and school occupational therapists is the SMART (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) Program. This program is being used in many Minnesota schools in order to close school readiness gaps and give children a good start to school and future school success. The program so closely parallels the role of school occupational therapists that many have become very involved in the program.
The purpose of this project was to closely examine the SMART program and to determine how occupational therapists can help implement and promote the use of this program. The product of this project was the development of a protocol, consisting of 10 modules, that occupational therapists can use to facilitate involvement in and promotion of the SMART Program to help address school readiness issues.
Boll, Melissa, "Giving All Children a Good Start to School: A Protocol in Defining Occupational Therapist's Role in School Readiness, Specifically in the Smart Program" (2006). Occupational Therapy Capstones. 177.