Developing Postural Skills for School

At Cooee Speech Pathology, our Brisbane north Occupational Therapists work with kids and their families to help build postural skills required for engaging at school.

What are postural skills?

It is our ability to improve postural control (strength and stability in our back and tummy muscles) to create a strong, stable base of support to enable fine motor function.

Sometimes we say – we are creating proximal stability to get distal ability.

Proximal  = near / distal = further away from the middle.  So to help kids move towards developing good fine motor skills (distal), we want to first encourage postural skills as a base of support.

What postural skills are required for school?

When going to school children are required to be able to:

  • Sit on the carpet for up to 30mins
  • Sit at a group desk for 15-30minutes at a time
  • Remain upright when engaging in the motor tasks in Physical Education (PE)
  • Sit up right to eat lunch


To do this successfully they need to have enough energy to maintain strength in their back and tummy muscles to keep themselves upright. 


Why is it important to have enough energy and strength to keep themselves upright?


If kids don’t, they will tire easily and have trouble focusing on their learning at school because they have to devote energy to remaining upright.


What do strong postural skills allow our kids to do?

  • Sit on the floor and listen to new learning
  • Sit at a desk and draw/write
  • Stand at an easel and paint 
  • Engage in running, jumping and ball games in PE


If we cannot maintain a strong stable posture, we devote lots of energy to creating this posture in order to be able to engage in other activities e.g. writing and this can feel hard, leading to resistance, fatigue or extra movement.


What are signs that your child doesn’t have strong postural skills?

  • They have difficulty sitting on the floor without leaning on other students or furniture/walls
  • They perch on their chair when sitting at a desk
  • They raise the shoulder of their writing hand when writing/drawing
  • They rest their head on the desk often or hold their head up with their hand
  • They have difficulty sitting still at the desk or on the floor


For further information regarding postural skills in your child, please contact the clinic to get in touch with one of our Occupational Therapists.