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GROSS MOTOR SKILLS AND HANDWRITING

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Photo Source: YOUR THERAPY SOURCE

https://www.yourtherapysource.com/blog1/2016/01/20/gross-motor-skills-and-handwriting-3/

GROSS MOTOR SKILLS AND HANDWRITING

The gross motor skills involved in handwriting mainly refer to the postural control that is required for writing.  Efficient control of the larger muscle groups in the neck, shoulder and trunk is necessary to maintain stability in order for the fingers and hands to move to complete the handwriting task.  As children develop, control and stability begins at the trunk, progressing to the elbow, wrist and finally the hand.  With normal development, fine motor skills are developed from gross motor skills.  For example, a baby will first learn to swat, then reach, then grasp and then manipulate a toy.  Children need to develop the proximal muscles (closer to the center of the body) of the trunk and shoulder girdle in order to use the distal muscles (further from the center of the body) in the fingers and hands.  These proximal muscles develop in children with gross motor movements such as reaching, tummy time, rolling, all fours position, crawling, standing and walking.

Children also must develop the ability to plan and execute gross motor skill actions.  With handwriting tasks, this motor planning requires muscle groups to work together with the proper force, timing and actions to produce an acceptable outcome (ie legible handwriting).  For example, in order to write with a pencil, the brain has to plan and carry out the skill in the correct sequence.  Starting with the pectoral muscles, the trapezius and the rhomboid muscles coactivating with the proper force and timing to stabilize the shoulder in order for the fingers and hand to move the pencil along the paper efficiently.   Children with decreased motor planning skills exhibit poor legibility of handwriting compared to their peers (Tseng & Murray, 1994).

Eye hand coordination skills require the vision system to coordinate the information received through the eyes to control, guide, and direct the hands in the accomplishment of a given task.  Again, this direction requires the gross motor movements of reaching and grading the control of the arm.

DEFICITS IN GROSS MOTOR SKILLS AND THE EFFECTS ON HANDWRITING

As mentioned previously, proximal muscles function as a stabilizer during handwriting tasks.  Children with low postural muscle tone may have difficulty sustaining contractions in the proximal musculature.  Research indicates muscles that work primarily as stabilizers, display less variability than muscles that work dynamically (Pepper & Carson, 1999).  When the proximal muscles stabilize correctly, the decreased variability in the distal muscles has been shown to be associated with a faster handwriting speed (Naider-Steinhart & Katz-Leurer, 2007).

The act of forming letters requires many steps.  The more steps required to complete an action results in higher levels of motor planning.  Research has indicated that children with decreased motor planning skills exhibit poor legibility of handwriting compared to their peers (Tseng & Murray, 1994).

When the visual system does not send the correct message to the trunk, shoulders and hands on where to move, you are not able to produce coordinated motor actions.  Decreased eye-hand coordination abilities have been shown to be predictive of decreased quality of handwriting (Kaiser, 2009).

GROSS MOTOR SKILL ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS FOR HANDWRITING SKILLS

Gross motor activities that will improve postural control and muscle strength in the proximal muscles are beneficial when it comes to developing handwriting skills.  Suggested activities:

  1. Hanging activities – practice monkey bars, chins ups, pull ups or swing from the tree limbs to increase the muscle strength in the shoulder girdle muscles.
  2. Climbing activities – climb the ladders and ropes on the playground.
  3. Pushing and pulling activities – pull a heavy wagon or push a child on a swing. These pushing and pulling  motions help the shoulder learn to coactivate to produce the right amount of force and stability.
  4. Weight bearing activities through the arms – animal walks, wheelbarrow walking, crawling, and push ups/planks all help to increase muscle strength and improve coactivation of the shoulder and postural muscles.
  5. Yoga Poses – provide muscle strengthening and postural control
  6. Large art projects – hang some paper on a wall or use an easel. Children can reach up, left and right while painting.

Motor planning skills can be practiced with the following gross motor movements:

  1. Sky Writing – air write the letters using your entire arm describing each step as you go
  2. Obstacle courses – handwriting requires the ability to formulate a motor plan to complete multiple steps just like completing an obstacle course. Include activities from the list above.  For example, crawl to a scooter board, lay on your tummy and pull yourself along a line and wheelbarrow walk to the finish line.
  3. Body Letter Formation – children can practice making their bodies into letters to improve the imprint on the brain of how the letter is formed.  Activities like the Action Alphabet are beneficial.
  4. Coordination activities – jumping jacks, jumping rope, hand clapping games, etc all require extensive motor planning and coordination skills.  Need some ideas for coordination skills – check out 25 Bilateral Coordination Activities.

Eye hand coordination activities to help develop handwriting skills include any type of ball skills – throwing, catching and shooting balls in order to practice guiding the hands to go in the proper direction and location.

MODIFICATIONS TO HELP WITH GROSS MOTOR SKILLS AND HANDWRITING

  1.  First and foremost, children should be properly positioned for handwriting:

a.) the feet should have a stable base of support

b.) hips, knees and ankles should be bent at 90 degrees

c.) desk should be 1-2” higher than bent elbows

Proper Posture Functional Skills for Kids

You can download a free positioning poster for handwriting here.

2.  For proximal muscle fatigue while writing, try changing positions. Perhaps lying on the floor to complete the writing assignment or providing a slant board may help.  Try breaking up writing assignments into smaller chunks to prevent proximal muscle fatigue.

3.  Take frequent breaks to stretch the muscles in the shoulder, neck and back.

The best suggestion is to sometimes put down the pencils, take a break from routine handwriting practice and get children moving!

Check out Handwriting Stations – includes positioning poster, warm up activities and postural exercises.  Find out more.

Read More

 

References

Postural control that is required for writing
posted Sep 15 by Gowri Vimalan

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+1 vote

                                            

Photo Source: parents.com

By Michelle Crouch 

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/10-life-skills-to-teach-your-child-by-age-10/

With so much for our children to learn in today’s high-tech world, it’s all too easy for them to miss out on practical life skills, whether it’s running a load of wash, reading a map, or handwriting a letter. A recent study by the online security company AVG Technologies found that while 58 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds in the U.S. can navigate a smartphone, fewer than one out of six (15 percent) could make their own breakfast. “I see many parents doing everything for their kids instead of letting them figure out how to fend for themselves,” says Tim Elmore, founder of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit in Norcross, Georgia, that works with schools and civic groups to promote leadership qualities in children. Start teaching these life skills now, and put your kid on the path toward independence.

1. Doing the Laundry

Too many teens head to college with no clue how to clean their clothes. Don’t let your kid become one of them. You can begin teaching your child when she is around 6. If you have a top-loading washer, keep a step stool nearby. Walk her through the process—how to measure and add the detergent, choose the settings, and start the machine. Amy Mascott, who blogs at TeachMama.com, taught her three kids (now 9, 10, and 12). She chose cute names for jobs: Wash Warrior, Super-Fly Dry Guy, Put ’Em Away Triple Play. Mascott says there have been snafus, like the time a whole load was folded and put away damp. “But I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for them to get the job done,” she says.

 

2. Planting a Seedling

Lots of preschoolers learn to plant seeds in class but not how to transfer sprouts into a garden. Whitney Cohen, coauthor of The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, shares the basics.

  •  Ask your child to dig a hole that’s slightly larger than the container the plant is in.
  • Once you remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole, have her delicately push soil around it and pat it down.
  • Let your child water it with a gentle stream from a watering can with a perforated nozzle.
  • By age 6 or 7, your child can remove a seedling himself. Have him split two fingers apart so the stem of the plant goes between them, then squeeze the outside of the container until the plant comes out. If the roots are wound tightly, he should loosen them a few at a time before planting.

3. Wrapping a Gift

Your child already loves giving presents, and wrapping them makes it even more satisfying. Preschoolers can help cut the paper and stick on the tape, while kindergardners can complete additional steps with your help, like removing the price tag, finding the right size box, and wrapping paper all the way around the gift to make sure it fits before cutting it.

4. Hammering a Nail

  • Give your child a 7- or 9-ounce hammer. Home-improvement stores sell kids’ models as light as 4 ounces, but with those it’s harder to pound a nail.
  • Use a piece of soft wood (such as pine, poplar, or cedar). You can hold it in place with clamps or a vise, or simply place it on the ground.
  • Pick nails with a wide head. At first you’ll have to “start” each one for him.
  • When your child is ready to do it himself, you can push a nail through a small piece of cardboard so it’s held in place as he hammers it into the wood. Make sure your child holds the edge of the cardboard instead of the nail (to protect his fingers).
  • Once he’s mastered that method, have him try holding the nail. Be prepared for a sore thumb or two, but before long he’ll get the hang of it.

5. Writing a Letter

Toddlers can dictate a letter to a family member (enhanced with drawings), attach the stamp, and drop it into a mailbox. Teach an older child how to address an envelope and the five parts of a letter: date, greeting (“Dear…”), body, closing (“Sincerely”), and signature. You can also have them help with holiday cards, find a pen pal (sites such as Amazing Kids and International Pen Friends can help), or correspond with POTUS by having them address a letter to The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500.

6. Preparing a Simple Meal

Invite your child to help make meals, assign him jobs to do, and stay calm when the flour spills and the eggshells fly, says Christina Dymock, a mom of four and author of Young Chefs. Yogurt with fruit is a good first DIY breakfast. Preschoolers can spoon yogurt into a bowl and add prewashed cut-up fruit. Work with kids 5 and older on making sandwiches and smoothies (monitor the blender closely). Around age 7 or 8, your kid can try toaster-oven faves like English-muffin pizza, or make a simple salad by ripping lettuce, dumping in croutons, and cutting up tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. By age 10, kids can use the stovetop with supervision for a grilled-cheese sandwich. Focus on safety and practice, and you might just have a Master Chef Junior on your hands. 

7. Navigating

If you’ve ever gotten lost following a GPS’s turn-by-turn voice directions, you know why being able to read a map is essential (even if it’s one on your phone). These activities will build your child’s navigational skills.

  • Hunt for treasure. Maps seem boring…until you use them to look for booty. Hide toys in your yard and then draw a simple sketch to mark their location. Show your 3- or 4-year-old how objects on the map correspond to those in front of her.
  • Have her lead the way. Zoos, museums, and theme parks have colourful, easy-to-read maps. Ask your preschooler to track her path, and challenge an older kid to get you from point A to point B.
  • Take up geocaching. Kids ages 5 and up love this outdoor treasure hunt game, which uses GPS tracking to find containers filled with trinkets. Learn more at geocaching.com.

8. Treating a Wound

Teach your child from a young age not to freak out when he sees blood (and don’t overreact yourself). Giving him a game plan will distract him from the pain and come in handy when you’re not around to kiss his boo-boos: Apply pressure until the bleeding stops, rise the cut with water, dab on some antibiotic ointment, then apply a bandage.

9. Cleaning the Bathroom

Keep rags or a sponge handy for wiping toothpaste blobs off the sink. Toilet duties require greater skill. School-age kids can clean the lid, seat, and base with a disinfecting wipe. Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly afterward. Big kids can scrub the bowl with a nontoxic cleaner: Sprinkle the sides with baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes, pour in some vinegar, then scrub with a toilet brush.

10. Comparison Shopping

Teaching kids to be smart consumers takes practice. This three-step approach worked for our family:

  • Explain as you go. Mention prices out loud and talk about your choices: “I’m getting gas at the other station because it costs 10 cents less per gallon.” I tell my kids about some things I’d like to have (Lululemon yoga pants, anyone?) but don’t buy because they’re not in our budget. 
  • Let your kid pay sometimes. Give him an allowance, and then designate items he is responsible for purchasing. My husband and I don’t buy any sweets. That’s forced our kids to become savvy shoppers. When the ice pops at our local pool began putting a dent in their cash flow, they pooled their money and bought a box of 12 to keep in the freezer.
  • Play the grocery game. At the supermarket, challenge your kid to find the least expensive brand of paper towels or tomato sauce.
+1 vote

Deepavali Wishes from Team ISPARK and GoMaXit

May this Deepavali (festival of lights) destroy your old burdens, limitations, worries and pains. And flood your life with wisdom, joy, energy, health and prosperity! 

Our teams at ISPARK and GOMAXIT.COM wish you and your family and loved ones a wonderful Deepavali 2017!

+1 vote

        

Photo Source: Motherly

By- Christina-Clemer

https://www.mother.ly/child/7-key-phrases-montessori-teachers-use-and-why-we-should-use-them-too-

Montessori can be hard to sum up in just a few words—it is a philosophy on education and child development that runs deep. It’s a way of seeing the world. I think one of the easiest ways to get an idea for what Montessori means is to listen to the language that Montessori teachers use.

Montessori teachers use language that respects the child and provides consistent expectations. Words are chosen carefully to encourage children to be independent, intrinsically motivated critical thinkers.

Here are seven common phrases you’d probably hear in any Montessori classroom, and how to incorporate them into your home life.

1. “I saw you working hard.”

The focus on process over product is a key tenet of Montessori. We avoid telling the children “good work” or “your work is beautiful” and instead comment on how they concentrated for a long time, or how they wrote so carefully and their work could be easily read by anyone.

Praising your child’s hard work, rather than his results, helps instill a growth mindset where he believes he can improve through his own efforts.

Instead of telling your child, “You’re a good boy,” tell him “I noticed you being kind to your little brother yesterday when you shared your truck.” This shows him you see his good behavior, without placing judgments on him. Instead of telling him, “You’re such a good artist,” try, “I noticed you kept working on your picture until you got it just how you wanted it.”

2. “What do you think about your work?”

In Montessori, the child is his own teacher. The teachers are there as guides to give him lessons and help him but he discovers things for himself through the carefully prepared environment and materials.

Self-analysis is a big part of that discovery.

When your child asks you, “Do you like my picture?” try asking her about it instead of just saying you love it. Ask her what she thinks about it, how she decided what colors to use, and what her favorite part is. Help her start to evaluate her work for herself, rather than looking for your approval.

3. “Where could you look for that?”

Independence is another key value in any Montessori classroom or home. Our goal as teachers is to help the children do things for themselves. So while it’s sometimes easier to simply answer a child’s question about where something is or how to do something, we often answer questions with another question such as, “Where could you look for that?” or “Which friend could you ask for help?”

If your son loses his shoe and you see it peeking out from under the bed, try asking leading questions, rather than just handing it to him.

“Where were you when you took your shoes off? Have you checked your room?” This may take a little more time, but it will be worth it when he starts taking more initiative and coming to you less.

4. “Which part would you like my help with?”

In a Montessori classroom, children are responsible for many things, including taking care of their environment. Children often take great pride in this responsibility, spending time arranging flowers to put on tables, watering the garden, and happily washing the windows and tables.

Sometimes though, a job is just too big and overwhelming. In these cases, we ask the child how we can help. We don’t want to swoop in and “save the day,” sending the message that the child is not capable, but we also don’t want to leave the child overwhelmed.

For example: If your child is tired, but needs to put her Legos away before bed, all of those pieces can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though. Try “which color would you like me to put away” or “I’ll put away the yellow pieces and you put away the blue” to show that you’re in it together.

5. “In our class, we ….” (Or at home— “In our home, we…”)

This little phrase is used to remind the children of any number of classroom rules and desired behaviors. Phrasing reminders as objective statements about how the community works, rather than barking commands, is much more likely to elicit cooperation from a child.

“In our class, we sit while we eat” is less likely to incite a power struggle than “Sit down.”

Like all of us, children want to be a part of the community, and we simply remind them of how the community works.

If you have a rule about walking in the house, instead of “stop running,” try saying “we walk inside our house” and see if you get fewer arguments.

6. “Don’t disturb him, he’s concentrating.”

Protecting children’s concentration is a fundamental part of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori classes give children big blocks of uninterrupted work time, usually three hours. This allows children to develop deep concentration, without being disturbed because the schedule says it’s time to move on to learning something else.

It can be tempting to compliment a child who is working beautifully, but sometimes even making eye contact is enough to break their concentration.

Next time you walk by your child while he’s focused on drawing a picture or building a tower, try just walking by instead of telling him how great it is. You can make a mental note and tell him later that you noticed him concentrating so hard on his creation.

7. “Follow the Child.”

This last one is an important one. It’s something Montessori teachers say to each other and to parents—not to the child. We often remind each other to “follow the child,” to trust that each child is on his or her own internal developmental timeline, that he is doing something for a reason.

This reminds us to search for the reason behind the behavior. It reminds us that not all children will be walking by one or reading by four—they haven’t read the books and couldn’t care less about the milestones they are “supposed to” reach.

Following the child means remembering that each child is unique and has his own individual needs, passions, and gifts, and he should be taught and guided accordingly.

If you can’t get your child interested in reading, try watching what he does love—if he loves being silly, it may be that a joke book is what piques his interest, not the children’s classic you had in mind. Remembering to “follow your child” can help you see him in a different way and work with him instead of against him.

One of beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education—it is a way of seeing and being with children. Even if your child does not go to Montessori school, you can easily bring the ideas into your home and watch your child’s independence and concentration grow.

+2 votes

Source: TOI

BENGALURU: After a 10-year stint in the corporate sector, Ashish Rajpal quit his job to work in education. Disillusionment with the nonprofit sector and a left-liberal upbringing inspired him to improve the quality of education in India. The idea led to the birth of XSEED in 2008, a company which is transforming the way 10 lakh children in 3,000 schools, including 296 schools in Karnataka and 100 in Bengaluru, are taught by 75,000 teachers.
The company provides a comprehensive teaching toolkit to English-medium schools. In an interview with TOI, Ashish spoke about the need to move away from rote learning and more. Excerpts:
Considering that our education system is largely based on rote learning, how disadvantaged are Indian children compared to kids elsewhere?
I once asked a professor from the University of Pennsylvania the same thing and he told me, `Indian students are great at answering questions but don't know how to ask the right ones.' We are trying to prepare children for the 21st century and make them capable of understanding, communicating and questioning. Instead of learning by rote, we want them to have a dialogue with their teachers. Children in other countries are more used to learning by doing things on their own and voicing their opinions.
You've called yourself an `elementary school in a box'. Explain We believed that the problem of access was more or less solved. We wanted to work on quality control using the existing infrastructure.We provide teacher training, textbooks, question banks for internal exams, an evaluation system as well as a curriculum. We are one of the largest school book publishers in the country and work within the structures of CBSE, ICSE and state boards. We have prepared lesson plans for teachers to tackle any topic from kindergarten to class 8. Teachers have told us how their students now ask more questions and are more confident and open-minded.
How does your company reach out to so many children?
It has been a long journey . When we went to schools in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, it was an uphill task to convince the principal that we were offering something for a reasonable one-time payment which would benefit them for years. We have 100 education coaches who have about 30 schools under them which they visit once in six weeks to give the teachers a refresher course. Our presence is most widespread in Tamil Nadu, with 2.50 lakh kids in 800 schools.
How much do you spend per student?
There is a reason why we have not expanded to higher grades. We want to focus on building a strong foundation for students. We considered there may be a clash between the learning provided in higher classes and the way students are evaluated (by boards). The programme costs us Rs750-Rs1,500 per student. In eight years, we have rebooted our model thrice to be up to date with the latest trends and teaching methods. MIT studied our company while working on social entrepreneurs.

How widespread is the initiative in other countries?

We focus on other developing countries as they face similar problems.We provide services to schools in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nepal, Bhutan and Philippines among others. The initiative has been remarkably successful in Philippines.
Have you collaborated with any state governments so far?
We tried but it is hard to engage with governments. You spend time building a rapport to get them on board but they may change their mind.Such initiatives require long-term implementation and cooperation.

+2 votes

Source: BM

For parenting, this is a magical microcosm, real-world simulator for our children to navigate

It’s been a hectic week and weekend. Faraway relatives have descended on namma ooru to celebrate. Mid-week dinners, late-night airport trips, and chatting assemblies, have thrown life as we knew it, into happy chaos. The scheduling that we’d honed as parents (decimated by the summer holidays) was just recovering. Now, carefully-crafted bedtimes and routine fly out the door, as grandma celebrates a birthday. It’s not just any birthday, it’s the 80th.

And she’s not alone; there’s an identical twin who is twice as crazy as her. It’s the event of a lifetime, one worth commemorating; and in true Indian style – over many days and meals. Goodbye, quiet time. The pluses are many. And I’ll start with the one that makes parenting lighter 1. I don’t need to worry about our meals at all – and what parent doesn’t love that! It’s all good. Day 1 is a full-on excitement-overload. 2. There’s so much ‘lurrve’. And compliments.

The children have obviously grown and everyone is staring at them in amazement. “How tall! How and when did this happen?!” I often borrow the line , “We water their feet every morning!” The children are enjoying the attention/smiles/bad jokes/stories/ laughter. And guess what? They’re learning from the village. The stories will, no doubt, remain. Well, the scandalous ones will. Especially, when they’re grandmas’! As I watch the shenanigans, I can’t help but notice 3. the psychological value of socialising. Everyone is loosening up. There’s the old aunt sitting with one of the children, giving her advice on what not to take seriously, and how to ignore a baby brother who’s bugging you. The older-but-still-young relatives giving career-advice to someone or the other, and the giggling cousins (notice how no one is on their phone?!), well, just giggling. There’s the oddball relative who’s missing a filter between his thought and words.

He’ll say something inappropriate for sure. And that’s okay too. Our kids are getting exposure to the real world, in an atmosphere that largely positive, and within their parent’s earshot.As the kids practise a special song for the twin grandmas, I see them ‘collaborate’. The “leaders” steamroll their way, the peacemakers hone their skill. It’s such a pond of learning, and one that’s rich in human relationship and interaction. Such bliss. Well, at least until the tiredness sets in. My rose-tinted reverie was interrupted by Ms. Teen, the super girl who’s tackling school, projects, early-rising, co-curricular, tuition and partying. She burst through the door with a whiny voice that I haven’t heard in a long while. “I have no time for myself and the family has moved ahead without me, and I have tuition while you all have fun. And I haven’t completed my Geography project, and someone stepped on my white shoes and ruined them, and I didn’t get any presents, and....”she said crying. As always, the cure is, to put her to bed.

This morning, I woke up to a strange jolting sound and heard myself shout out to Mr. Dad, What’s that?”He replied calmly (as he was right beside me), “The alarm.” Then, school frenzy began. Two out of three children could not wake up, and when I decided to give in and get back under covers, she decided to do school. Back to the frenzy – this time, with lost time.

Argh. Even the even-tempered Mr. Dad is kinda grumpy this morning. He blames overeating; we’ll blame exhaustion. And honestly, these are small prices to pay for the fun that was – creepy uncle included.

...