As an occupational therapist and mother of three children, two typical
and one with a learning disability, I believe that parents should not
become therapists. Our children want and need us to love and play with
them without therapeutic expectations. Having said that, I also believe
we can accomplish a lot to foster our child’s development by choosing
the medium with which we interact in a wise and educated manner. We
can have fun and sneak in developmental encouragement if the toy or
game plays to both the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
During my occupational therapy training at the master’s level
at Columbia University, I remember it said often “a child’s
work is play”. Children are continuously playing to learn, acquire
and master developmental skills. Mastery is a child’s ultimate
I have fifteen years experience in various clinical and educational
settings. My hospital based years were spent working at the Alfred
I. DuPont Institute in the developmental disabilities department,
in the NICU and in the prosthetic department. My outpatient experience
was gained via the Easter Seals society and that time has left me
with many fond memories. I have accrued and continue to build many
years of experience in both private and public school settings.
Albright College, Reading PA (1987) - BS in Psychology and Biology.
Columbia University, New York, NY (1990) – MS in occupational
Christiana Hospital, Newark, DE – NICU/Transitional Nursery
Alfred I. Dupont Institute (now Nemours) - Developmental Disabilities
Outpatient Department, ICU, Prosthetic Clinic.
Easter Seals- Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Development and
Children’s Seashore House (Atlantic City, NJ) – Pediatric
home based therapy.
Millcroft (Newark, DE) – Clinical coordinator at this long
term care facility.
Arbors at New Castle Sub-Acute and Rehabilitation Center (Newark,
DE) – Director of Rehabilitation.
John G. Leach School (Part of Colonial Public School District-
Newark, DE) – Therapist in this school for children with severe
and profound disabilities.
The Tatnall School (private school in Greenville, DE) –
Screened children and educated teachers regarding fine motor and
visual motor development.
Penn London Elementary School (part of Avongrove Public School
District, West Grove, PA) – Provided therapy for children
in kindergarten through second grade.
Avongrove Intermediate School (part of Avongrove Public School
District, West Grove, PA) - Provided therapy focusing on fine motor,
eye-hand and perception skills for 3rd through 6th graders.
Over the past fifteen years, it has become abundantly clear that
children will work much harder and longer towards a goal than many
adults. The key to starting and maintaining this movement toward goal
achievement is motivation. A child will be motivated if his strengths
and interests are a part of the therapeutic or learning experience.
Even though I am a trained therapist, as a mother of a child with
a learning disability, I find it very difficult to incorporate the
concept of integrating both strengths and weaknesses into our lives
on a regular basis. I am always looking for just the right toy or
activity that will maintain my child’s interest for that moment
in his little life to foster the particular skill that is in most
need of remediation. If this is a difficult task for me with my background,
I cannot imagine the trying task it must be for a parent without training
in special education. Parenting is a tremendously difficult job. Through
this website, I hope to make parenting just a little easier. I would
like to “help all parents help their kids through play”.
As co-founder and president, I personally oversee and edit all toy
descriptions. The descriptions of the toys are written to convey how
they have been helpful within therapy sessions or how I have found
them to be helpful for me and my children personally. I hope this
insight enables you to create a play environment or situation that
will foster your child’s development. Jackie Erb,