By Jodie Lynn
What to do if your child's handwriting is a problem. It's OK -- it can get better.
Below is an excerpt of a heart-wrenching letter I received from a mom:
"My twins were constantly being "encouraged" by the teachers to work on their handwriting. It literally drove us all to tears. It has taken me all of the summer to get them back on track to even think of the new school year in a positive manner. They are both going to be in the third grade, but to tell you the truth, I am scared to death of what the new school year will bring."
I recently received the above plea for help from a desperate mom. While it may seem like a small insignificant task to some, the impact of the problem packs a huge whammy on self-confidence for the entire school year.
After having taught school for several years, I can sympathize with what the family might have gone through. It is especially devastating to highly sensitive children.
First of all, to all of you thousands of parents who have experienced this, and to those of you who may be notified of such a challenge in only a few short weeks, this is a common complaint for elementary children, especially for boys. Why?
Children are so into large motor skills, (running, kicking and hitting activities) especially boys, that their fine motor skills in the manual dexterity of the fingers, are just not developed.
Girls on the other hand, have a tendency to draw, bead or color, which leads to strengthening these muscles and coordination. The small and precise usage of this specific area leads to better hand writing.
Here are some acceptable tips to get your little champion back on the road to not only feeling good about personal self-esteem, but for pure and simple handwriting success. Best of all, these are fun activities.
Beading - Now that it's cool for everyone to wear beaded necklaces - boys don't mind a bit in producing their own choker.
Embroidery - If you start now, kids can make special gifts for grandparents or stepparents. Even if it is as simple as adding initials on a towel set or dinner napkins.
Drawing - Just about everyone can draw. It doesn't have to be top notch. Start with free hand drawing or painting by numbers.
Coloring books - There's really cool coloring books out today and many to them can be about one of your child's favorite TV shows or musical groups.
Puzzles - These take time and patience. Begin with smaller ones and move up in the number of pieces.
Working on Model Cars - Supervise with glue and paint, otherwise, let the child work on the project in small periods.
Working on Model Airplanes - The same tips apply to airplane models or any type as they do to model cars. Having a special place where pieces can be kept out on a flat service making them readily available.
Lego's - Anyone and everyone love Lego's and they are perfect for finger/hand/eye coordination.
Tracing - Most art stores have an unlimited supply of tracing paper and activities that kids love.
Tying and untying shoe laces - Make a game of this by seeing who can tie and untie their shoes the fastest between mom and dad and/or mom and child or vice versa.
Button and unbuttoning shirts/tops - When you put away summer clothes or while you are getting donations ready for pick up, ask your children to button all of the clothes: theirs, yours and the rest of the family's clothes. The next week, ask them to undo the buttons. Alternatively, make a game out of it similar to the one for tying shoelaces.
Keyboarding - Let your child write emails to grandparents, relatives and friends. You might also suggest that they make up and write poems and/or stories and submit them to online contests.
Dialing on a rotary phone -- Don't have one - pick one up at the local resale, garage sale or Goodwill store. Call out various numbers and let them dial them with various fingers - not just the normal dialing fingers.
The key to optimizing the ultimate success of these activities is to make them fun, not to pressure and not to nag. In fact, don't even mention why they are being done other than praising them for the end result.
Never force your child to do an activity for long periods. As soon as you see frustration setting in, switch to another activity and go back to the other ones another day.
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