In today’s post-pandemic world, more students than ever need extra support to get up to speed with key skills. As a Special Education Director, you need solutions now. How can you help a growing number of students develop fundamental skills while containing costs? Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) has answers.
We have an occupational therapist-developed pre-referral intervention program called Kindergarten BootKamp™ that’s designed to help K to first-grade students improve their OT skills. We’ve seen the results, too. One of our partnering districts saw a decrease in referrals by up to 66% across the board. Read one of our success stories to learn more below!
The Reality: Increasing OT Referrals in Kindergarten Classrooms
Though more students are entering kindergarten without many critical skills for success, most of them do not have a true disability. In reality, most of them simply have not had the opportunity to develop these skills due to lack of exposure to visual motor and fine motor activities because of the pandemic-related shutdowns.
Rather than interacting with and learning from both teachers and peers, most students have had an overabundance of screen time. This more passive activity does not let students develop the dexterity and other skills they need to succeed.
The Solution: Classroom-Level Supports
While working with a partnering district, PTS’s proprietary BudgetWatch™ software detected upticks in kindergarten Occupational Therapy (OT) referrals. By analyzing our data, we also determined that many of the first-grade OT referrals were likely occurring because students moved on from kindergarten before learning basic skills like:
- Catching a ball
With this information in hand, PTS and our partnering district could take immediate action to give students the support they needed while simultaneously containing therapy caseloads and costs, as you’ll see below.
We Proactively Addressed Spikes in OT Referrals With Tier-1 Interventions
As a result of this collaboration between the school’s special education department, staff, and the PTS team, Kindergarten BootKamp™ was born. This 6-week, Tier 1, OT support program helps students develop:
- Postural control
- Visual perceptual
- Visual motor skills
- Manual dexterity/grasp
When we implemented the first Kindergarten BootKamp™, we provided all kindergarten classrooms with 20 minutes of instruction every day for six weeks.
On the first day, one of PTS’s OTs presented a lesson, accompanied by a demonstration of one of the following key areas:
- Postural Control—to increase stability and strength in the head and torso.
- Visual Perceptual—to bolster such capacities as visual attention and discrimination, spatial relations, and sequential memory.
- Manual Dexterity/Grasp—to hold and move crayons, pencils, and small objects.
- Visual Motor—to achieve better hand-eye coordination for coloring, writing, tying shoelaces, and more.
By introducing and demonstrating these key skills to the students, the structure of the program enabled them to integrate what they learned during related classroom activities.
Days 2 to 5
On days two through five, the teacher reinforced the target skill, giving students time to practice and integrate everything they had learned. Each activity used low-cost or recycled materials, such as pipe cleaners, cylindrical potato chip cans, and small plastic beads, or something similar.
Real Results: Our Partnering District Saw a 40% Decrease in OT Screenings
By the end of the first Kindergarten BootKamp™, requests for kindergarten OT screenings fell by 40% and OT evaluations went down by 66%. During the program, students practiced these skills earlier and, therefore, fewer students qualified for OT. Ultimately, this decreased both short- and long-term costs for the district while helping more students.
People Also Read: The PTS Difference
Delivering Quality Supports to Students With Your Budget in Mind
All students who need support can get what they need without unnecessary referrals or evaluations. In other words, helping students and staying within budget are not mutually exclusive! As the numbers show, you can help more students while successfully containing costs both now and in the future as a PTS partner.
Contact PTS to find out how we can help your kindergarten classes succeed while also keeping caseloads manageable!