Sunday, April 17, 2011

Handwriting II

There is so much that I can say about handwriting and getting ready to write.  One thing I'd like to bring your attention to is the importance of good posture with regards to handwriting.  Strength and stability is so important when it comes to handwriting.  And when I say strength, I'm really meaning back/shoulder and not just strength in the muscles of the hands.  Children develop from large muscles to small muscles, from trunk to extremities.  The way we talk about it in child development is that child develops from proximal to distal.  So if a child does not have strength and stability in their back, shoulders and neck, definitely their fine motor/handwriting is going to be effected.  When I notice that a child's fine motor isn't up to speed with the typical development of others their age I start backtracking and watching how they sit, what they are doing when there are fine motor tasks involved, what their willingness is when it comes to do tasks that require strength, their attitude and so on.  Often it all goes hand in hand.  I do not have the education and experience that an occupational therapist have...just a little background knowledge that allows me to be more aware of the development of the children and whether they need further intervention or not.  Recently I learned that "low muscle tone" is a common diagnosis which really is just a general label and often there are issues underlying that need to be dealt with.  In general,  I find that children that have a poor posture often steers clear of activities that require strength and endurance and I also notice that they fidget quite a bit and their attention span tends to diminish after a few moments with a task.  Often it's because they tire out quickly or are even sore and subconsciously they are making up for it in how they are sitting or what they are doing which then effects their ability to advance in the fine motor area and specifically handwriting.

One thing I do for children with that seem to be behind in this area is to start putting their work on a vertical surface.  This helps with strength and ability as well as pencil grasp.  One thing to watch for is if the child's wrist is bent back in the direction of the hand.  Very beneficial.  Dot to Dots work well.  Make sure your child is working from left to right and top to bottom.  Also stencil tracing can be fun and very helpful.

Already I mentioned doing activities like the wheelbarrow...these hand walking activities exercises the shoulders, hands, head and neck. 

Push-ups against the wall also help these areas.

Easel work is very beneficial.  Chalk board or writing on paper that has been put at your child's eye level also helps.  Magnet board or felt board also works nicely.  You can purchase large felt sheets at Wal-mart or craft stores.  Mount it at eye level and provide felt shapes or laminated pictures with felt pieces hot glued to the back.


Two more areas that effect handwriting is ocular motor control and eye-hand coordination.  Those two will be for the next blog I guess, as time is passing.  Hope this next week goes smoothly for you all!

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