Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Professional Training Day at The British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS) in Egypt

The British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS) in Egypt recently hosted a professional training day for their teachers at their school in El Sherouk City. Teachers and teaching assistants from the ECE and Elementary School Departments attended two workshops; Sensory Strategies to Enhance Classroom Learning and Frequently Asked Questions about Handwriting, which I presented.

Staff actively participated in numerous discussions about student's handwriting difficulties and learned strategies to support good sitting posture, pencil grip, letter formation, spacing, organizational skills and more. Staff learned about sensory processing and how student's ability to process sensory information affects their daily function. Staff also learned about sensory signals, sensory diets and how to create a sensory friendly classroom environment. Practical strategies to implement in the classroom were discussed and demonstrated.

Staff participated in "Brain Breaks", such as performing these yoga poses and learned how to incorporate movement throughout the daily classroom routine. Movement is widely known to enhance children's learning. Using movement breaks throughout the day keeps students and teachers focused!

Staff learned handwriting strategies, such as "back writing" and the importance of using simple, age appropriate language to teach handwriting.

Staff participated in "Would You Rather..." activities, showing how you can incorporate movement in an activity that was originally done in a seated position using discussion and/or pencil and paper.

Since children spend on average 6 hours a day in a classroom setting and write in every subject it is important for teachers to be aware of good handwriting practice and sensory strategies to help children function at their most optimal level.

It is good to know that schools like BCCIS are willing to support children with various educational needs. From my experience presenting to teachers at various schools, I find that many teachers are often willing to support children with various needs in their classroom, but they often just need the practical strategies to do so.

Thanks to Dr. Lori Carpenter, Principal, Ashley Richardson, Elementary Vice Principal and Margaret Elabi, ECE Director for supporting and organizing this event. Thanks to all the teaching staff at BCCIS for their relevant questions and participation in discussions and activities.

If your school is interested in hosting an event like this, I can be contacted at To learn more about occupational therapy, go to the American Occupational Therapy Association website here.

Laura Efinger, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy Consultant

Laura Efinger M.A. OTR/L is an American Licensed Occupational Therapist with 18 years of experience working in the US & Egypt. For the last 12 years, she has provided assessment and therapy for children with special needs in Egypt. She was the Supervisor of the Occupational Therapy Department at the Learning Resource Center in Egypt from 2003-2009. She is presently an independent consultant and conducts educational workshops and staff training at various nurseries, schools and centers in Egypt. She has created the Child Development Club website and Child Development Club: Egypt Facebook page to provide a forum to share educational resources to the public.