Best practice tips for fine and gross motor skills

Best practice tips are strategies that have been evaluated in other settings, target a relevant factor (such as a teaching style that lowers student anxiety), or is considered best practice by experts in the field.

Consider seating position and duration

Some students might need extra help to support their posture or physical comfort in the classroom. Bean bags or pillows may help, sometimes the student may need to change position regularly or stand. This may help with pain management, or particular tasks like handwriting. 

It is important that you speak with the student and their parents or carers about how you can assist the student to optimise their levels of comfort for classroom participation and engagement.  Consider also talking with any allied health professionals working with the student about the best seating position for them.  

For some students, a seating aid, postural support or mobility aid may be required. Such devices are permitted for therapeutic purposes, not for managing behaviour. Use of these devices must be prescribed by an allied health professional. 

Their use in the school must be planned in consultation with student and their parent/carer and only used in accordance with that plan. Further information can be found in the guidelines for the use of seating aids, postural supports and mobility aids for students with disability at school. 

Consider pairing the student with a buddy

This could be helpful both in and out of the classroom. For example, the student’s buddy can assist with note taking if needed. Include a range of different students as buddies, rather than the same one or two students each time.

Consider where things are kept

Check that students can reach things on shelves, particularly for students who use wheelchairs or mobility aids. It may be helpful to have bookshelves at different heights, or to tape down paper during craft activities to avoid it slipping away from the student.

Provide plenty of opportunities to practise

Students with motor challenges may need to practise motor skills many times. Give the student plenty of time to practise with different tasks and different materials so they can learn to use that skill in other situations and settings. 

Encourage students to learn at their own pace

When teaching physical education skills, encourage students to have a go at activities in safe environments. This might mean focusing on just having a go at first rather than learning a specific technique. 

Build students’ fine motor skills

Get students to hold and use heavier objects, knead dough or playdough, and encourage them to use zippers and tie shoelaces themselves,