Sounds familiar? Almost all parents go through this angst when it comes their children’s writing skills. What most of us fail to realize is that these situations present a hidden message our children may be trying to get through to us. What message, you ask?
“I am not ready to write yet!”
How can my child not be ready to write? It’s a natural progression, isn’t it?
TheAsianParent team recently attended a seminar by LYRA on the prerequisites of writing, the behavior and psychology of children through their silent behavior.
Occupational Therapist from NUH, Alicia Lim said “handwriting is more than just pushing a crayon into a child hands. Not many know that even before you can give that crayon to your child, there is a whole load of preparation work.”
So, how do we prepare our children to write.
The first step into preparing your child for writing would be working towards strengthening your child’s back muscles. Stronger back muscles lead to better sitting postures, which then result in crisp wrist movement for better handwriting.
First, you have to prepare your child’s body before you can even think of stuffing a crayon into those virgin palms.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to create a mini Rambo. Alicia suggests getting them to carry chairs to the dining table, helping them to arm-wrestle playfully or playing in an airplane position. These activities help build their back and arm muscles. Next, develop the muscles in their hands and fingers. Give them clothes pegs to squeeze, tweezers to pick up Lego bits and teach them to tie shoelaces.
LYRA also has a new range of color pencils, that sport larger diameters to cut out any unnecessary strain on your child’s hand muscles. These pencils have indents for your child to have a better grip on them when drawing or writing, thereby allowing the muscles in your child’s hand to grow steadily.
Here is an illustration of a child’s developmental stages when writing. You can use this as a guide to monitor your child’s development for the way they hold a writing tool according to their age.
2. Psychological Gym
After all the muscle training, you now need to mentally prepare your child for writing. This is the second step of preparation. Here’s what you can do
- Frame up their work. It’s nice to be the Da Vinci of the house.
- For every criticism, dish out DOUBLE the praises!
- Always keep the erasers away. We want them to know that it is okay to make mistakes.
The seminar also proved educational for parents with left-handed kids.
Before proceeding into the details, Alicia emphasized the detrimental consequences of forcing your child to grow up ambidextrous. This move can cause confusion in your child resulting in a slower educational development. Instead of stressing the child, parents should allow the child to embrace his/her developmental stages and encourage the child’s potential. For those who missed out on the seminar, here’s what LYRA informed parents with left-handed children.
- Tilt the paper to the right when your child writes
- Use a vertical surface
- Seat your child on the left side of the room
Noreen Boyle, Trainer for Early Year’s Practitioners, Wimbledon was also present at the workshop to impart her thoughts on children’s cognitive, social and behavioral development. “It’s not about coloring within the lines,” she said, ending the seminar by giving several tips on furthering a child’s developmental skills.
- Be your child’s 911. Be available for your child to run to when he or she is frustrated.
- If your child is doing a jigsaw puzzle, gently give them clues to complete it.
- Get them to sit down and draw a picture of what they learnt today.
- Cut down the time spent on television so they have more time to develop their socializing skills.
- Let them scribble a bunch of marks and make meaning out of it. It enhances creativity.
The seminar was certainly an eye-opener, providing us with a wealth of information on handwriting skills. Good luck with preparing your little ones on their educational journey!
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