Health Check: Movement therapy at the Wolf School

    At the Wolf School in East Providence, it’s all about learning how to learn. (WJAR)

    At the Wolf School in East Providence, it's all about learning how to learn.

    The school for complex learners is for students K through 8. All students receive speech and occupational therapy, along with education tailored to their specific needs.

    Movement therapy is part of that learning.

    "We believe that movement is essential to learning and our students really need that throughout the day," said Anna Johnson, the head of Wolf School.

    Wolf School Occupational Therapy Supervisor Kelly McDonald agreed.

    "It's really the foundation of what we do," McDonald said "The sensory processing piece, maintaining and achieving that learning-ready state, so they're able to perform in the classroom."

    They do exercises that stimulate the mind and calm the body to create an ideal learning environment. There is a room called the sensory arena, a popular and fun place that often doubles as a classroom.

    "We do math and reading in here," McDonald said. "You can put sight words on the rock wall. They can climb up and find them. (There are also) obstacle courses for math activities. If you can create it and think of it, we can make it happen."

    Students said they are benefitting from it.

    "I wasn't a good reader, writer, and I wasn't feeling good about it either," said Ariana Del Ponte, an eighth grade student who is just weeks away from graduation.

    The 14-year-old started at the school when she was in fourth grade. That's when she said she began to learn how to learn.

    "They made it fun, like, they made it enjoyable," Del Ponte said. "They make you feel like you are smart."

    While some of the classrooms are in typical settings, others are outdoors, such as the seventh grade science class.

    "They're studying the process of planting and how seeds get from one place to another, germination, (and) fertilization," said Meg Silva, the math and science teacher.

    The feeling at the school is that movement stimulates the learning process for students who learn differently.

    By the time they graduate, most students have learned how to advocate for themselves.

    "Knowing what their strengths are, knowing what might be a challenge for them and how they can advocate and get help so that they can get to the next level and succeed (is the main goal)," Johnson said.

    Del Ponte said she can't wait for the future. She's looking forward to heading to LaSalle Academy in the fall.

    "It's much different than Wolf, obviously, but I'm very excited and I feel ready," she said. "I have all the strategies that I need."

    The Wolf School is in the process of growing, which includes adding a library and a classroom. It is hoping to raise $100,000 by the end of May to help fund these additions.

    For more information about the fundraising project, click here.

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