Woo hoo! It’s finally happened, we have had a breakthrough! I have to admit, I’ve beginning to stress quite a bit about B’s handwriting skills, but today we’ve had a major improvement, so I probably shouldn’t have worried quite so much.
Handwriting has always been a tricky issue in this house. B could write sentences with magnets from 2 years old, and I assumed that he would make the transition to writing with ease, but it never happened. He would construct the simplest sentences when under pressure to do so, and after consulting with paediatricians we discovered the combination of hyper mobility in his fingers and a major crash of confidence was really affecting his ability to write.
Over the past year or so we have tried various different pencils, with varying degrees of success, using pencil grips and a leaning board to help with writing, and using an assortment of fun activities to strengthen hand grip. We’ve bought many new toys and activities from The Happy Puzzle Company which have been invaluable in building B’s confidence and hand grip strength. A great piece of advice that I received from a friend was to work with games and ideas that didn’t have a specific goal or exact and correct method behind them. Children can really lose their confidence when they can’t do something, so let them just derive pleasure from the activity without a specific end goal.
We’ve used a huge range of construction toys from the traditional Lego and Knex to the slightly more unusual teifoc bricks which I’d highly recommend. Using clay, play dough and plasticine is back on the agenda. We’ve made a big effort to get outside more, building a mud kitchen, water ways, an around the world gardening project, and turning the tuff tray into a desert garage type play area.
It went against every fibre of my being to improve a skill, by doing anything but the skill itself, but it actually worked! The reverse “s” is now almost entirely the right way around, the back to front “f” is now right half of the time, and letters are going on lines with ascenders and descenders in the right place. B is so much happier that he doesn’t have to decipher every sentence for his audience, and I am mightily relieved that it worked.
If your child needs a little help with fine motor skill development to assist their hand writing, these are our top tips:
- Painting with cars – take a couple of old toy cars, dip the wheels in paint, and drive over the paper.
- Get digging – in sand or earth, with fingers or with tools. It’s a world away from writing, but good for exercising little hands.
- Playdough, plasticine and clay – plasticine and clay can be a little tougher than Playdough, but using tools can help. It’s also quite good for getting frustrations out on, if your child is feeling fed up.
- Using tweezers. Games like Operation are good for this, we also found a great game called Fruitfall, which is better if your child is wary of noisy games.
- Play games! Games like Kerplunk are good for concentration on fine motor skills and good fun too.
- Get building – Lego and Knex are the obvious choices, but it’s also worth looking at Joinks and some of the lesser known brands if your child isn’t necessarily drawn to the more popular ones.
If you’ve tips that worked for you and your children do let us know we’d love to hear!