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Handwritting - is it just practice ?

(15 Posts)
AppleandMosesMummy Sun 19-Jul-09 23:21:36

I can print out all the sheets off the net but wondered is it really that simple ?

ButterbeerAndLemon Sun 19-Jul-09 23:25:26

What age? Other activities to improve fine motor control are a good complementary thing to do -- so (for example) threading beads, or doing those Hama bead designs, or just squishing a squishy ball.

gigglewitch Sun 19-Jul-09 23:31:55

also wondering how old - and boy or girl (there's quite a difference - boys can often be much less tidy) smile

AppleandMosesMummy Sun 19-Jul-09 23:32:45

Sorry aged 7 and a girl, her dad's handwritting was shocking apparently, but it's beautiful now, like a woman's lol

AppleandMosesMummy Sun 19-Jul-09 23:34:24

We have hama beads so that's good to hear, she's just completed a Princess one so quite complex, will happily keep going with those just was dreading trying to get her to do sheet after sheet, the boredom threshold is quite low in our house.

gigglewitch Sun 19-Jul-09 23:36:08

mine used to be horribly messy but practice got it really neat, but until I was about 13 or 14 my brain worked faster than my fingers so my writing was pure scrawl, I just wanted to write quickly!
Find out what cursive style they are likely to do at her school, chances are that she will find that much easier than forming each letter and taking the pen/pencil off in between smile

bruffin Sun 19-Jul-09 23:41:54

My DD's was really bad at that age took her until yr5/6 to really neaten.It's partly because she is left handed and partly like gigglewitch,her brain works far faster than her hands.

mrz Mon 20-Jul-09 07:37:18

Handwriting sheets aren't really the answer after all they are a tracing exercise not a writing exercise.

Check that she's actually starting the letters in the correct place and going in the right direction so not starting an "a" at the bottom and working clockwise (most common problem with handwriting).

and as been said already that her physical development is ready for writing - sounds daft but can she make windmills with both arms outstretched and can she touch each finger tip to her thumb in turn?

I have a long list of exercises if you need them.

AppleandMosesMummy Mon 20-Jul-09 10:19:50

no problems with touching her thumb with finger tips and the windmill was ok.

mrz Mon 20-Jul-09 16:25:02

That's a good indicator she is physically ready for writing - next check how she writes letters where she begins and how she forms.

Nemoandthefishes Mon 20-Jul-09 16:29:38

I was told ds[5] needs to work on his writing and again was told about hama beads[something he has never had] and also playing games like picking up grains of rice with tweezers to strengthen the muscles.

CarpePerDiems Mon 20-Jul-09 16:31:29

Apple, sorry to push into your thread, but mrz I'd be grateful if you could post some exercises. DS, 10yo, still struggles with his handwriting and many tasks that require fine motor, like doing up buttons, tying laces and getting socks on properly.

Apparently part of the problem with his writing is that his thumb locks into a rigid position instead of staying supple, but given that there are so many tasks he finds difficult I suspect his fine motor skills in general are weak and need improving.

[sorry to hijack]

mrz Mon 20-Jul-09 16:49:25

Activities to develop fine motor skills

All these activities are general and can be used to develop fine motor skills for most children in your class. However, some children may need a much more specific programme of activities. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists will need to assess individual children's needs and advise on particular fine motor activities to address their specific difficulties.

1. Take a line for a walk – see how long the pencil can stay on the paper.
2. Sorting – small objects such as paper clips, screws, bolts, buttons, etc.
3. Clipping things together – using pegs, paper clips, etc.
4. Dressing up activities – involving the use of clothing fasteners such as buttons, zippers and laces.
5. Post-a-shape – matching shapes to the correct opening.
6. Bead threading – copy the pattern.
7. Tracking and maze activities
8. Cutting and pasting – patterns, pictures, classification activities, project scrapbooks.
9. Tracing – lines, shapes and simple pictures.
10. Copy writing patterns 1 – using coloured sand.
11. Copy writing patterns 2 – using chalk.
12. Colouring patterns and pictures – using different media.
13. Dot-to-dot pictures – using numbers and the alphabet.
14. Line-links – following the line from one end to the other (e.g. mouse to the cheese).
15. Modelling – with clay, Plasticine etc.
16. Painting and printing – using different sized brushes and different types of printing materials.
17. Jigsaw puzzles – starting with simple peg puzzles with pictures and shapes that need to be slotted into the correct space, then introducing traditional puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty.
18. Peg boards – these can be used to make simple or more ocmplex patterns.
19. Building blocks – start with larger wooden ones if possible and then introduce smaller ones.
20. Constructional apparatus –of varying degrees of difficulty (e.g. Duplo, Lego).
21. Jacks or marbles – children learn to control fine motor movements with these games.
22. Computer-aided picture and design activities
23. Sewing activities
24. Finger puppets
25. Construction activities – involving the use of plastic nuts, bolts and screws.
26. Musical instruments – playing as wide a range as available.

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:

Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.

Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines

Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles

Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop". Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt, sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory awareness in the hands.

Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

Activities To Develop Handwriting Skills
There are significant prerequisites for printing skills that begin in infancy and continue to emerge through the preschool years. The following activities support and promote fine motor and visual motor development:
Body Stability
The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on specific skilled fine motor tasks.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.

Fine Motor Skills
When a certain amount of body stability has developed, the hands and fingers begin to work on movements of dexterity and isolation as well as different kinds of grasps. Children will develop fine motor skills best when they work on a VERTICAL or near vertical surface as much as possible. In particular, the wrist must be in extension. (Bent back in the direction of the hand)
Attach a large piece of drawing paper to the wall. Have the child use a large marker and try the following exercises to develop visual motor skills:Make an outline of a one at a time. Have the child trace over your line from left to right, or from top to bottom. Trace each figure at least 10 times . Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times.
Play connect the dots. Again make sure the child's strokes connect dots fromleft to right, and from top to bottom.
Trace around stencils - the non-dominant hand should hold the stencil flat and stable against the paper, while the dominant hand pushes the pencil firmly against the edge of the stencil. The stencil must be held firmly.
Attach a large piece of felt to the wall, or use a felt board. The child can use felt shapes to make pictures. Magnetic boards can be used the same way.
Have the child work on a chalkboard, using chalk instead of a marker. Do the same kinds of tracing and modeling activities as suggested above.
Paint at an easel. Some of the modeling activities as suggested above can be done at the easel.
Magna Doodle- turn it upside down so that the erasing lever is on the . Experiment making vertical, horizontal, and parallel lines.

Ocular Motor Control
This refers to the ability of the eyes to work together to follow and hold an object in the line of vision as needed.
Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his/her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, to bottom, and diagonally.
Find hidden pictures in books. (There are special books for this.)
Maze activities.

Eye-hand Coordination
This involves accuracy in placement, direction, and spatial awareness.
Throw bean bags/kooshi balls into a hula hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
Play throw and catch with a ball . Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Kooshi balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with pop bottles and a small ball.)
Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon.

Activities to develop gross motor skills
All these activities are general and can be used to develop gross motor coordination for most children in your class. However, some children may need a much more specific programme of activities. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists will need to assess the children's needs and advise on particular gross motor activities to address each child's specific difficulties.

1. Dodgems – ask the children to run around in different directions, making sure that they do not bump into each other. They need to dodge out of the way of each other. You can make this game more difficult by calling out 'Change' so that they have to change direction.
2. Stone cold – give each child a number, then ask them all to run around in different directions. If their number is called they have to stand still like a statue until the next number is called when they can move again.
3. Stepping stones – using small hoops as stepping stones, ask the children to 'cross the water' by jumping from one to the otehr without falling the 'water'.
4. Hopscotch – children can jump to being with until they feel confident with hopping.
5. Parachute games – ones that use the large muscle movements.
6. Climbing activities – using a range of large apparatus.
7. Balancing activities – using a range of both small and large apparatus.
8. Brain gym – some of the suggested activities invovle the coordinated movement of some of the large muscles.
9. Bean bag activities – a range of team games involving throwing bean bags at a target, or putting bean bags into a bucket, hoop, etc., or games involving kicking or throwing.
10. Ball games – a range of games involving rolling, kicking, throwing and catching.
11. Batting activities – a range of games involving the use of bats, sticks or racquets. These could be:
* dribbling a ball around objects using a hockey stick
* timing how long the children can keep a call in the air by batting it
* putting aball into a specific position, using a putter or a hockey stick
* paired games as in table tennis, racquet ball and short tennis
* team games as in rounders, cricket and hockey.
12. Skipping activities – individual and group skipping games (e.g. 'Salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper').

CarpePerDiems Mon 20-Jul-09 18:39:57

mrz, thank you for posting that list, it's completely brilliant. Even though ds is significantly older than the age group it seems to focus on, there are a lot of activities on the list that would still engage him and plenty that can be adapted slightly - with the cutting, for example, he'd be unlikely to happily agree to random cutting out, but if I structure it so he's cutting something out to be helpful to me, such as coupons or movie schedules, he'll happily do it.

Really appreciate you taking the time to post all of that!

funnypeculiar Mon 20-Jul-09 18:43:54

mrz - also wantd to say thank you for that list. DS (reception) writes like spider vomit, and I was thinking of asking his teacher for non-handwriting focused tasks to help his general abilities - but as usual, mn has all the answers smile

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