We are half way through the summer holidays, six weeks may have seemed like a long time but it is amazing how quickly it is passing.
The last thing you and your child probably want to think about right now is handwriting and getting ready for next term; and quite right too!
So, don’t think about it in the conventional way of practise, practise and practise.
Think more play, play and play!!!
Children learn so much through just playing; developing physical and mental strengths and skills, which all support them at school and with learning. Once introduced to a new game or activity children will very often take it and make it their own, making new rules and introducing extra characters or challenges.
The skill as a parent is remembering to let go of your preconceived ideas about how a game should be played and letting your child take the initiative.
If you provide the opportunities it is amazing how they will take on the challenge of inventing a new game or (in their eyes) improving an existing one.
This does not have to cost a penny; use the toys they already have or make games using empty plastic bottles or cardboard tubes.
The following types of play can support and develop the key strengths and skills your child needs for handwriting and you have not had to mention school or homework.
- The local play park is a fantastic free resource; running, jumping, crawling and climbing can all be encouraged. If your child is a little reluctant then it may well be that they are unsure how to do some of these activities. Explain when jumping that they needed to land on their feet and bend their knees as they land. Start small and as their confidence grows so does the height or distance they jump. Climbing can be scary for some children so again explain how to climb, moving one hand or foot at a time so that there are always three other points of contact.
- If you are lucky enough to have a garden then mud play is messy but so much fun, it can be contained in a small area and will not only make you a cool adult but, if you join in, it will knock years off you (have a go, it is a great free therapy session).
- Skittle games are always fun, extend the activity by decorating the skittles (plastic bottles or cardboard tubes) using anything from crayons, paint or even dress them up as people or animals.
Well, true to form, the Summer Holiday weather is a mixed bag, sunny one minute then pouring with rain the next!
So, here are a couple of ideas to help your child burn off some of that pent-up energy. Best of all you can class it as handwriting homework (working on gross and fine motor skills).
An indoor/outdoor circuit training course does not have to take up much space or be messy (but it might be a good idea if indoors to move ornaments a little further out of the way).
Simple activities can be fun if they are done for short periods of time and children do love a time challenge. Make each activity last anything from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
You could record how many they did in the time and see if they have improved when you try it again.
Why not try:
- Hopping on one leg and then the other (balance & coordination)
- Use the bottom step of the stairs for step ups (bi-lateral coordination)
- Curl ups (Core strength -see our games page)
- With a cushion balanced on their head can they touch their toes without dropping the cushion (balance, coordination, bi-lateral coordination and core strength)
- Star Jumps (balance & coordination)
For more fun, simple activity ideas check out our games pages, it is amazing how much fun you can have just hopping, jumping, skipping and dancing on the spot: http://bit.ly/2FhFkR7
If you are feeling really brave why not try building an obstacle course, a lot of the fun is in the designing and making.
Let go and have fun!!!
Poor bilateral coordination skills not only have an impact on handwriting but also many other day to day tasks such as the ability to get dressed quickly, pick up and carry objects as well as the use of a knife and fork and scissors.
It can also affect a child’s sporting abilities, hindering their ability to run, skip, catch, throw and kick effectively. The consequence being that they are put off playing sport and participating in physical activities, which in turn hinders their bilateral coordination development, a kind of ‘Catch 22’ situation.
The impact of this is becoming more wide spread with the popularity of fun and engaging computer gaming and a greater use of touch screen devices as children may not be getting the opportunities they would have had in the past to fully develop their bilateral coordination skills.
Bilateral coordination refers to the use of the left and right sides of the body, needed for coordination and well-balanced movement, including those that require movements such as the left arm moving across the body to the right-hand side (crossing the mid-line point).
These skills are learnt and developed through everyday play and activities and need to be practised.
Learning to cross the mid-line point is one of the stages to developing handedness (hand dominance): http://bit.ly/2VlGfDH
To check your child’s bilateral skills and development try our quick and simple bilateral coordination assessment activities: http://bit.ly/2C7xYwq
For fun physical activities to help build and encourage your child’s bilateral coordination skills check out this section in our gross and fine motor skills page: http://bit.ly/2FhFkR7
Next week is half-term for many of us and The SUN should be out which makes it time for the water fights and games to begin.
How can water fights and games, where you can get wet, be handwriting homework?
It will soon be June, the weather should be perfect, so why not set up water squirting games in the garden. The kids are waterproof and everything else will dry out, eventually!
You will be encouraging your child to develop their hand strength, co-ordination and eye tracking skills (all handwriting skills), while increasing your cool adult status.
Some fun water games:
- Try setting up a target wall, using chalk to draw the targets.
- How many of the targets can you hit with water squirted from a water pistol or squeeze bottle in a set time.
- How many targets can be washed off.
- Set up a skittles range.
- Each skittle hit with water can be worth a certain number of points, or the distance of the skittles may affect their value.
- A time trial game to hit all the skittles. If you are using plastic bottles as skittles try making some of them a little heavier by putting sand or dirt in them to make it a bit harder to knock them over.
- Move the object race games.
- A light toy/ball has to be moved by squirts of water over a distance.
- A range of objects moved in to target areas to gain points.
The only limitation is you and your child’s imagination and trust me kids never tire of finding new ways to play with water (but then again neither do many adults)!
Homework has never been so much FUN!
Motor memory and visual memory difficulties can have a dramatic effect on a child’s handwriting ability. Possible signs of poor motor memory or visual memory skills can be that their handwriting is slow and deliberate or fast and messy (as they try to hide their letter formation issues), making it difficult to read. They can spend so much time on trying to remember how to form the letters, they have no working memory space left for the important tasks of composing their writing and spelling.
Poor motor memory skills can make handwriting difficult as shapes and letter formation movements are often forgotten, causing letter reversals and incorrectly formed letter shapes, which can make joining a very slow process to learn. A poor and often slow handwriting style can develop as font styles are mixed and capital letters are used inappropriately. Combined, these difficulties can cause poor presentation, spelling and legibility issues.
Poor visual memory skills make handwriting difficult as the ability to recall how letters look and reproduce them with appropriate spacing and positioning is partially or completely lost. This leads to poor letter formation skills, letter reversal along with spelling and presentation difficulties.
Visual memory and motor memory skills are linked and so a game or activity that supports one is likely to support the other.
For more information on how to identify motor memory and visual memory difficulties see our Other Physical Skills Assessment: http://bit.ly/2P5jS44
For games and activities to help support and develop these skills use this links: http://bit.ly/2M350S1