Evidence-based strategies 

Evidence-based strategies are those that have been evaluated by researchers within school settings, and found to be effective.

Work collaboratively

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Talk with the student and their family to find out the student’s unique strengths and abilities, any areas they need more support with, and the best methods of communication. 

Access our strengths and abilities communication checklist.

Build a relationship with other professionals involved in supporting the student

Working together can lead to a shared understanding of how best to support the student and use strategies that are the same in the primary school setting and other settings such as home.

Tailor how you teach

Plan ahead

Before beginning an activity, check that any equipment or adjustments that might encourage full participation of the student are available.

Focus on what students can do

Provide encouragement, especially of student’s strengths and achievements. Your attitude can make a difference in student’s participation and learning.

Change the activity to support the student

If a student is struggling with an activity consider how it can be tailored to their strengths and abilities.

For example, if a writing task is difficult for a student to complete, encourage them to use an alternate way to demonstrate their skill such as verbally providing an answer.

Remove classroom clutter

De-cluttering the environment can allow for easy movement for all students with reduced gross motor skills.

Practise handwriting skills

Consider handwriting activities

For students who experience challenges with fine motor skills, consider spending short periods of time, multiple times a week, on handwriting. An activity that might help is getting students to copy a correct version of each letter of the alphabet. Arrows around each letter, indicating the direction of each stroke, and the order of each stroke to write a letter, may be helpful.

Help students self-reflect on handwriting

Some students who experience challenges with fine motor skills may benefit from activities that encourage them to self-reflect on their handwriting. For example, help students understand the shape of letters (for example, where does the letter ‘a’ start and finish). 

Ask them to practise writing the same letter, at the same size, repeatedly (for example, the letter ‘a’ eight times). Then, ask students to choose which letter they wrote best and draw a circle around it. You can also ask them to use an arrow to show which part of the letter they need to improve and practise that part.

Use music to improve motor skills

Music can improve movement ability in students

Try “moving to the beat” of an instrument in a safe environment, or letting students adapt how they play an instrument to better fit with their abilities.

Combine movement with music

Consider activities where students are asked to combine fine motor movements to the rhythm of a song or rhyme. For example, choose a song or rhyme, and ask students to rest their hands on their knees, one palm facing up and one down, while sitting on a chair. 

To the rhythm, ask them to raise their hands, rotate their hands so palms face the opposite way, and lower them to their knees. Repeat this for the whole song or rhyme.