Shenango students make learning fun during after school program

Penn State Shenango’s second-year occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students are leading an after school program “Printing Fun” with 19 West Hill Elementary School children in kindergarten and first grade. This annual six-week OTA service learning project, which began at the end of January, is held on Wednesdays from 2:45 until 5 p.m. at the Sharon School District’s elementary school.

At the beginning of the spring semester, the OTA students spend one day a week helping the children improve their printing skills. The enrichment program includes both individual and small group activities that were designed to reinforce printing skills while having fun. Some of these activities include completing craft projects while working on strengthening small hand muscles, assembling a Mr. Potato Head to print a selfie caption, and adapting a game of tic-tac-toe to practice a target letter. Parents are provided with weekly process notes and ideas on how to reinforce the new skills at home.

“Our second-year students look forward to this project each year,” said OTA Program Director Marge Pendzick. “In the past, they have worked with students a little older; however, this year we decided that we would offer the program to the younger grades so that we could establish basic foundation skills before legibility is affected. These types of service learning projects are helpful for our students to see how they relate to others in a real-world setting. What they take away from this experience is more valuable than anything I can teach them in class.”

For more information about Penn State Shenango’s OTA program, call 724-983-2890.