Here’s some important early and pre-writing activities and/ or good remedial exercises to help improve your child’s print handwriting ~
Children must develop their gross motor (larger trunk and limb) muscles before they can control their fine motor (finger) muscles. Core, shoulder and arm strength will directly affect the hand and finger strength. Good muscle tone will give strength and support to the body that supports the hand and fine muscles.
Any child who lacks good muscle tone will tire easily, wriggle and move a lot, or try to avoid doing fine motor work. A child that battles to write may benefit from improving his gross muscle and core strength.
Strong core muscles are vital!
The entire body is connected to the spine – shoulders to arms, pelvis to legs. The abdominal muscles hold and protect the body and internal organs and keep the spine in alignment. These muscles are the core strength of the body. Strong stomach muscles help a child maintain good posture, cope with gross and fine motor activities and assist in balance,
Children with poor core strength will slump in their seats, lean against the table, or lie on their arms. They battle to maintain good posture. They tire easily and become grumpy, listless, avoid strenuous activities, will appear bored, uninterested in doing activities.
Here are a few activities that encourage strong core (abdominal) muscles:
- Mom and dad ‘blow raspberries’ (press lips and blow noisy air) onto their children’s tummies and encourage kids make their tummies hard/ taut. This starts when they are very young babies! Giggles and laughter works those tummy muscles too!
- Play see-saw – sit on the floor facing each other and feet pressed to the opposite person, hold hands and lean back and forward singing and rocking.
- Do mini crunches, sit-ups on a large exercise balls. Mom holds the ball steady and the child lies on his back with his feet touching the ground and hands behind his head. He lifts his shoulders up and crunches his stomach muscles.
- Lie on the ground and hold a inflatable ball between his feet, legs lifted, hands pressed under his bottom on the floor. Slowly lower the legs until the stomach engages, but do not let the small of the back lift off the ground.
- Do the “plank” - lie face down on the ground and place the elbows below the shoulders and hands together under the face in an upside-down ”V” position. Lift the body off the ground and balance on the toes and elbows. Hold for 10, then 20 and work till 30 seconds.
Exercises and games that encourage shoulder, arm and hand strength:
- Play on the jungle gym – especially swinging from monkey bars, climbing ladders, climbing rope ladders
- Walk on hands doing “wheel barrows” on their hands – with mom or dad holding their feet to go down the passage each night to go to brush teeth! Weight bearing into the shoulders is excellent and the core (abdominals) are activated by holding the torso in line.
- Hang from ropes, rails, ladders and trees
- Play on large exercise balls (with mom) lunging forward while lying on their tummy on the ball to touch the ground with both hands, onto 1 hand and hold the other arm extended out forward (swing back and repeat with alternate hands), lunge forward on 1 hand and use the other to pick up a bean bag and throw it to a target/ into a basket/ into a hoop
- Throw and catch large balls and throw into a basket/ against a wall. Use a big inflatable ball, then a large soft rubber ball, then a heavy leather ball. Do this standing up, sitting cross-legged or standing on their knees.
Remember though, that your child may need a few moments to relax and settle down after strenuous gross motor activities before doing fine motor work. Wait until he has regained his breath and he no longer trembles.
Also, make sure of your child’s safety! Stay ready to catch, hold, stabilize or monitor your child’s posture, momentum or lunge. Work in a large, clear area. Teach your child how to do the activities on the ball correctly and only under supervision.
Keep your child’s interest and break the boredom by mixing a few of these activities in between lessons, or during breaks. A few minutes of core work and jungle gym play helps your child let off some steam, stimulates his brain, encourages him to breathe and improve his circulation, as well as have FUN! And, he will become stronger as his muscles improve!
Blessings as you encourage good handwriting skills.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions in the comments below.
Here are my previous handwriting posts: