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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.

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References

Postural control that is required for writing
posted Sep 15, 2017 by Gowri Vimalan

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Picture Source: acc-learn.com

By- The Times Of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/why-kids-cannot-hold-pencils-pens/articleshow/63090400.cms

Excessive use of phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently, making it increasingly hard for them to hold pens and pencils, UK doctors say.
“Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust in the UK. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not able to hold it because they do not have the fundamental movement skills,” said Payne. “To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills,” she said.

“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes,” Payne was quoted as saying by the ‘Guardian’. Mellissa Prunty, who runs a research clinic at Brunel University London investigating key skills in childhood, including handwriting, said that increasing numbers of children may be developing handwriting late because of an overuse of technology.

“One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child,” said Prunty.


“Without research, the risk is that we make too many assumptions about why a child isn't able to write at the expected age and don’t intervene when there is a technology-related cause,” she said. Although the early years curriculum has handwriting targets for every year, different primary schools focus on handwriting in different ways - with some using tablets alongside pencils, Prunty said.


This becomes a problem when children also spend large periods of time on tablets outside school.

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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.
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Picture Source: Times Of India

By Seema Mattoo 

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/events/mumbai/school-kids-learn-to-recycle-wrappers-and-aim-to-reduce-environment-pollution/articleshow/65751718.cms

Safai bank is a new venture that helps reduce pollution in our environment. They visit schools and teach children on how to reduce pollution by requesting kids to get wrappers of biscuits, chocolates, chips, ice creams etc. These are collected and are picked up by a cement company who mix these wrappers into the cement kiln.

This mixture is very durable and long lasting and is then used for making roads and footpaths. The school or organisation that has help collect maximum wrappers and helped the environment gets an award and certificate.

The above has led to kids competing and making special efforts in collecting wrappers which would otherwise have been burnt by rag pickers on the street since it does not gain any benefit to them. This burning of wrappers increases the carbon dioxide and adds to air pollution.
Socialactivist Mili Shetty who takes up various such initiatives in the area says, "The venture is targeted at schools since kids eat a lot of junk food with wrappers. 

While the initiative was started with St Mary's school, the plan is to begin in all schools around Kandivli."

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Photo Source: Deccan Herald

By Malati Hegde
https://www.deccanherald.com/spectrum/learning-and-contests-689317.html

Recently, Anand Kiresur, a young boy from a shepherd family secured the highest in Mathematics in a contest. His family was elated and was proud of him. While addressing the gathering in his felicitation ceremony at Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), a campaign to learn Math, at Binkadakatte in Gadag district, Anand said, “I will grow up and become a police officer and arrest those who steal sheep in the region.”

The boy had excelled in the G P Contest organised as part of GKA launched by Akshara Foundation, a public charitable trust which is into ensuring quality pre-school and primary education for children. The foundation was set up in 2000 by a group of people in Bengaluru to ensure that every child gets an opportunity to learn and realise their dreams.

What’s it all about? 

The foundation has adopted the activity-based learning format to teach the students math in a creative manner. It has come up with a mathematics kit which comprises teaching and learning materials for the implementation of GKA, as part of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.  The GKA is an elementary school mathematics programme designed to improve numeracy skills and facilitate the classroom teaching of mathematics in grades IV and V in government schools. Akshara Foundation contacts schools and provides kits and books. The organisation’s resource persons train math and language teachers in handling the kit and the GKA is taken up as part of the school curriculum.

The kit consists of 21 materials including beaded rope, tape, blocks, foamed goodies, measuring tools, and weighing balance, which makes learning an enjoyable and a wholesome experience. These kits also aid the teachers in the classroom.

The kit consists of 21 materials including beaded rope, tape, blocks, foamed goodies, measuring tools, and weighing balance, which makes learning an enjoyable and a wholesome experience. These kits also aid the teachers in the classroom.

Furthermore, the foundation also has a library to help the students and teachers. And, the programme ropes in local youth who have completed either PUC or undergraduate programme and involves them as volunteers. They visit various houses, and talk tothe students and parents, in order to collect data regarding difficulties faced by students in solving math exercises, staff shortage in their schools and the basic amenities available for them on campus. 

                                                                Read More

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          Education Funding: Loans for Parents and Schools 

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