Students who have challenges controlling their letter formation, or cutting with scissors, may be lacking control of the small muscles in their hands, wrists, and fingers, which control such precise movements. These muscles are associated with ‘fine motor skills’, which require more detail, coordination, and control. While many activities that babies, toddlers, and children do on a day-to-day basis help improve this control (i.e. self-feeding, finger painting, arts and crafts), including more directed activities can lead to stronger muscle control, increased writing stamina, and improved letter formation.
If your child complains that their hands tire after short periods of writing, check his or her pencil grip first. See Parent Child Education’s video to teach correct grip and identify incorrect grip. http://bit.ly/n3RgT5 . If your child is gripping the pencil properly and still tiring, he or she may benefit from increased strength in the muscles used for pencil grip. To strengthen the muscles associated with writing, incorporate the following items into crafts or games:
- Clothes pins
- Kitchen tongs
- Turkey basters
- Rubber bands
- Hole punch
All items need a good amount of strength and control, and can be used in water play, sorting activities, helping in the kitchen, art…the list is endless!
If your child doesn’t tire from writing, but is forming letters with shaky lines and awkward circles, he or she may need some extra practise with the control of these specific muscles. Luckily, there are endless activities that can help children develop this control. Easy favourites are:
- Mazes with narrow pathways- try not to touch the lines!
- Connect the dots
- Sorting beads/beading
- Sewing with an age appropriate needle
- Cutting out curvy shapes with scissors
- Cutting and building with pipe cleaners
The reality is, printing and writing are going to continue to be a part of children’s academic life, and their self-esteem and interest in writing may be linked to their confidence in using a pen or pencil. Luckily, getting a good start (or catching up) with fun, non-writing activities can help improve a child’s stamina and performance with a pencil.
For other fine motor activities and pictures, visit the activity board on Pinterest: http://bit.ly/11fhM4G or visit SavvySource’s blog for more activities that incorporate our suggested items: http://bit.ly/VnSHxJ
For more information on individualized lesson plans and fine motor development, contact Ruth Rumack’s at (416) 925-1225 or visit our website http://www.ruthrumack.com.