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Research Article  |   January 2005
Self-Care at School: Perceptions of 6-Year-Old Children
Author Affiliations
  • Christine J. Chapparo, PhD, DipOT, OTR, is Senior Lecturer, School of Occupation and Leisure Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, East Street, Lidcombe, New South Wales 2141, Australia; c.chapparo@fhs.usyd.edu.au
  • Elizabeth Hooper, BAppSc(OT) (Hons) is currently undertaking an Australian Youth Ambassadorship, working as an occupational therapist with Care Society, G. Hazaar-aabadh, Rahdhebai Magu, Malé, Republic of Maldives. The content of this paper was partially derived from her undergraduate honors thesis topic
Article Information
School-Based Practice / Technology
Research Article   |   January 2005
Self-Care at School: Perceptions of 6-Year-Old Children
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 67-77. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.67
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 67-77. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.67
Abstract

Occupational therapists who work with young children routinely evaluate self-care and consider it an important domain of practice. Little is known about what children perceive is important self-care or what they experience as self-care within a school context. Without knowledge about children’s perspectives of self-care, occupational therapists cannot know whether or not they are targeting areas that are central to children’s needs. The purpose of this naturalistic study was to explore 6-year-old children’s perceptions of self-care in their school day. Participant observation and group interviewing were used to elicit descriptive information from 24 Grade One children, attending an elementary school located in Sydney, Australia. A fishing game, drawing activity, and excerpts from a videotape of their day at school were used as stimuli to explore how the children described and attributed meaning to their self-care occupations. Findings showed that children described self-care at school two ways. First, they named specific self-care tasks that mirrored adult views of self-care and represented culturally shared views of the concept of self-care across ages. Second, children described highly individual views about self-care that were derived from their own experience of doing self-care at school. These views seemed to be based on their personal perceptions of salient factors in operation at the time of self-care performance such as social and physical contexts, perceived skill, and expectations of others. The findings suggest that occupational therapy assessment and intervention for self-care include sensitivity to experiential differences between adult views of self-care and those of children. This sensitivity should include an attempt to understand children’s experiences of self-care in specific contexts such as school.