Article by Occupational Therapist Emma Smith, who has some tips for helping your kids with their fine motor skills in time for back to school.
We are getting close to that dreaded/celebrated time of year… back to school! Your kids have hopefully spent the last two months enjoying the sunshine and warmth we’ve had in Vancouver, and getting lots of active play in.
Getting Your Kids Ready for Back to School
Now, with back to school around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what we might need to be doing with our kids to get them ready, both for their academic and non-academic skills. One of those non-academic skills that has a profound impact on their learning and success is their handwriting.
Challenges in handwriting can impact a student’s pace of learning and academic output. Often kids who have difficulty writing may be misjudged as lazy or unmotivated, when the reality is much different. You might have noticed that your child seems to know the material, but has difficulty getting it down on paper, writes a short answer where a longer one is needed, or avoids tasks that require written work. Their teachers in the past might have complained that they rush, or your child might be complaining that their hand is sore and tired.
Working on Handwriting
As a parent, there are things you can do to help your child’s handwriting improve as they head back to school. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make sure your child spends lots of time climbing, hanging and using their arms for support. This helps build upper body strength and stability, which is crucial for fine motor development. Wheelbarrow races, crab walks and tug of war are great examples of fun things to do.
- Your child’s core stability is also important. Activities that emphasize the use of the core muscles should be on your list of things to do as the summer winds down. Find some suggestions for great activities here.
- Make sure you have your child’s vision checked. Vision problems contribute to poor handwriting more often than most parents and teachers are aware.
- Play games with your child that involve the use small objects and manipulatives. Games that encourage the pincer grasp (index finger to thumb) are best, especially if they have small pieces that must be moved around.
- Practice handwriting in every day activities – like writing letters to family or writing out grocery lists. If your child is having difficulty with size and spacing, try writing on graph paper instead! The internet has many sites that allow you to print of different sizes of graph paper to meet your child’s needs.
Get Some Help
If you have concerns about your child’s handwriting, or any other skills that are impacting them as they prepare for back to school, a Registered Occupational Therapist can complete a full assessment to determine the nature of the issue. They can also work with you to develop a plan for improvement. For more information on our services email [email protected] or call 778-986-4038.
Emma Smith is an Occupational Therapist living in Vancouver. Her experience is diverse, but primarily rests in Pediatric School Health and Assistive Technology. A lifelong passion for working with kids contributes to her energy and enthusiasm for working with yours!