Tag: Dyspraxia

Handwriting Breakthrough – Helping Your Child with their Handwriting

Handwriting Breakthrough – Helping Your Child with their Handwriting

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!

The Great Outdoors – Encouraging Your Child Outside

The Great Outdoors – Encouraging Your Child Outside

You can’t help but notice how children don’t play outside as much as they used to. As a child I was always outside. I have so many memories from making algae fritters in my nan’s garden (don’t ask!) to building dens and climbing trees. Our freedom came with bikes and dare I say it, stay at home mums and no way of monitoring us 24/7. Im not convinced it’s all about the computer games kids have access to; we had a fab Atari console, but spent hours outside too.

B hasn’t always been too keen on being outside. He would nearly always choose to be inside drawing or making train networks or playing with Lego. In some ways I probably felt quite relieved a lot of the time. It meant I wasn’t continually getting mud out of the house and his fine motor skills were always very adept.

However, when B was at school in reception they flagged up that they thought he may be dyspraxic. After a thorough diagnostic appointment, it was noted that his gross motor skills sit on the 9th percentile. I often wonder if I should have encouraged him outside to climb more, dig, get dirty and build up his balance and other skill sets. I also missed so many signs as I just dismissed the signs as an inherited clumsiness. (I’m still reeling from discovering I’m the only grown up I know who falls off their bike a lot!)

When faced with a long list of exercises from the hospital to work on his hyper mobility (another gift from me), I knew we might struggle to maintain the routine. In its place we’ve tried to build our own program to incorporate them in a fun way. From weekly ice skating, trampolining, and ballet lessons. We are slowly transforming our garden. With a new mud kitchen, a water wall built from guttering, and a basketball net we are getting B to enjoy being outdoors more and more. We’ve built a willow dome, and a reading area into the playhouse, put together a beach on a tuff tray, and tried as much planting and growing as we can.

We’ll be updating our progress on what’s working for us here, any ideas on what works for your family are most welcome!

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