Sierra Caramia, Amanpreet Gill, Alisha Ohl, David Schelly; Fine Motor Activities in Elementary School Children: A Replication Study. Am J Occup Ther 2020;74(2):7402345010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.035014
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Importance: The educational landscape is continually changing in response to legislation and the adoption of new standards, such as the Common Core. Currently, little is known about how these changes have influenced the school day.
Objective: To examine the motor and technology requirements of kindergarten, second-, and fourth-grade general education classrooms.
Design: For 6 full school days, we made unobtrusive observations of and took notes that described classroom activities throughout the day. Data were coded by a committee, allocating each minute of the day into 1 of 10 activity categories.
Setting: Kindergarten, second-, and fourth-grade classrooms.
Participants: Three general education classrooms with approximately 20 students in each class.
Results: Students spent between 37.1% and 60.2% of the school day performing fine motor activities, with handwriting accounting for 3.4%–18.0% of the day. Time spent using technology was relatively sparse in kindergarten (4.8%) and second grade (3.1%) compared with fourth grade (14.3%). Transitions between activities (18.9%–23.4% of time spent) exceeded time spent handwriting.
Conclusion and Relevance: This article provides an updated estimate of motor demands throughout the school day. Estimates of fine motor activities were consistent with previous research, but the focus on handwriting appears to have substantially diminished.
What This Article Adds: Within the context of their own school, occupational therapists may find transitions to be a good opportunity for providing services within the classroom. In addition, handwriting practice outside of school may be more necessary in the current educational climate than in previous years.
Fine motor, nonacademic content
Fine motor, academic content
Computer or other technology use by students for leisure or academic purposes
Transition time (25%).
Children who struggle with fine motor skills may require support throughout the day, rather than only during activities that are predominantly fine motor in nature.
The focus on handwriting appears to have substantially diminished since McHale and Cermak’s (1992) study. If there are indeed fewer opportunities for handwriting practice in the classroom, students who struggle with handwriting may need more practice outside of school.
Even though it is ubiquitous at school, technology may play an understated role in the classroom.
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