Today, we're going to talk about foundational skills and activities for handwriting. We will look at seven different perceptual categories and how they affect handwriting.
I often get a lot of pushback from teachers and parents who ask, "If everyone is switching to typing, why do our children need to learn how to write correctly?
Handwriting and keyboarding are not the same skill. Hopefully by the end of this seminar, you will all become advocates for handwriting, as learning to handwrite has long-lasting impacts. Pre-writing skills are the fundamental skills required to hold a writing utensil, and to be able to write, color and copy. There are 11 different things that are required for handwriting:. I'm also going to provide activities for each of these skills, so if you see a child struggling with any of them, you can implement an appropriate activity that will assist them.
When you're thinking about the act of sitting, you need core strength for sitting upright, you need neck strength to keep your Mr hand grasps that pipe from behind upright.
You need strong shoulders and arms for arm and wrist movements, and strong fingers for grasping that pencil and grasping objects. In other words, their hips are at a degree angle, their knees are at a degree angle, and their ankles are at a degree angle.
Their feet should be on the floor, or on a foot stool if they're too small. We never want a child dangling.
If the desk is up too high or too low, that's going to affect handwriting. If a child is not able to achieve good enough postural control, there are some activities we can use to help them.
Tummy time for babies is essential for building postural control. If you are working with preschoolers, we still want to create those prone activities. We can encourage crawling through the use of obstacle courses or tunnels. You can do something called a "car wash" where you take PVC pipe and make them into frames.
Any kind of animal walk that requires you to have hands and feet or knees on the ground e. Those are great activities that you can use for postural control.
There are some gross motor activities that will also support postural control. Yoga is a good example of a gross motor activity that is excellent for core strength. Other activities are great for postural control, such as rolling down a hill and exercise Mr hand grasps that pipe from behind activities. Wheelbarrow walking would achieve a similar effect the child walks with their arms while someone holds their legs. Pushing or pulling weighted objects is another idea.
Tug of war is a great gross motor activity for postural control and building that core strength. Rough housing or wrestling can also be beneficial, as long as it is under proper supervision. Midline crossing is crossing over from one side of the body to the other.
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How do you know if a child is having difficulty crossing midline? There are several telltale signs.
Another tipoff that a child is having trouble crossing midline is in their eye gaze. In a child who is having trouble crossing midline, you'll often see a little bounce in between right at midline.
Their eyes have difficulty crossing from left to right or right to left. They'll never write on the other side of the paper. There are some fun activities that you can use to help promote and support midline crossing. The intent is to have the child use their entire arm across both sides of their body. You could implement flashlight tag, where you and the child each have a flashlight, and they have to match their flashlight with yours in a darker room.
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You could have the child smear shaving cream or Cool Whip or the messy medium of your choice with one hand, and wipe it off using a towel in Mr hand grasps that pipe from behind other hand. Using tape, you could create a "road" on the floor.
A great way to do this is to have the child sit at an angle on one hip, propped up on one elbow. Because they're propped on one elbow, they are not able to use that hand. Another skill that is a prerequisite for handwriting is bilateral coordination. This is the ability to coordinate two parts of the body together for an activity e.
Also, cutting with scissors is a fine motor bilateral coordination activity. You're stabilizing with one hand and you're cutting with the other, using two hands together at the same time. This is essential because this builds upon midline crossing.
If a child does not have the ability to cross midline, they are going to have a hard time with bilateral coordination skills. Not only will they help to develop postural control, but they will also help develop coordination activities. Be creative and let the children choose the animal they want to imitate.
Riding a tricycle is a great activity to encourage gross motor bilateral coordination. For example, have the child use stencils, where they have to hold the stencil with one hand and trace with the other. Again, cutting with scissors is a good activity, as is building with Lego blocks or playing with Mr. Other bilateral coordination activities that involve fine motor skills include using a hammer and nails, lacing cards, and Play-Doh activities.
Instead of coloring with crayons, you can have the child tear up colored paper and glue the pieces onto that area that they want to color. A child's hand is not fully developed until the age of seven.
When we're asking our preschoolers to write, we have to keep that in mind.
Hand preference can be observed early on, but actual hand dominance doesn't normally come into play until about the age of six. Also, it is important for us to encourage children to use both hands, especially in preschool or early intervention, to develop dexterity and control with both hands, not just their preferred hand.
The arches in the palm of the hand aid with grip strength and dexterity. Separation of the two sides of the hand is essential for proper handwriting. Oftentimes, you'll see children who don't have that separation of the two sides of the hand, and their whole hand works together. Over time, that can cause weak hand stability, ultimately leading to an improper pencil grasp.