Strategies for Success!
- Seating – ensure that your child is in a well-supported position, with a firm writing surface and room for arms to move freely. For some children, standing at a low table is fine, as is on the floor on tummy or other alternative positions. In fact, its ok to change position at times!
- Paper – teach your child the line names (top, middle, bottom) and trace the lines with your fingers before using your pencil. Discuss the pencil strokes and line touches.
- Pencil grasp – encourage the best grasp, and use chubby pencils or pencil grips. Dry erase is fine, but crayons and chalk give the body sensory system greater feedback and promotes motor learning. Again, use lots of strategies and include writing in salt trays, foam soaps, on upright surfaces, using props like wands, pointers and flashlights.
- Teach one letter form at a time and practice, practice, practice! Avoid *flooding* your child with too much verbal or corrective feedback. Instead, have them go over their work and circle the letter they wrote the best, so you are reinforcing the positive.
- Use a See-Say-Do model. Have your child look at the letter, chant the letter name, finger trace the letter and then utensil trace the letter. Lastly, create the motor memory and practice Sky Writing the letter. Use an extended arm and write the letter in the sky, with eyes closed.
- Have child sit in a stable table/chair position and discuss scissor grasp, cutting hand and turning hand. Practice scissor grasp and snips before commencing to a more skilled project.
- It can be helpful to have child perform a gross motor or *heavy* work activity with their arms prior to a scissor session. This helps to warm-up the eyes and hands.
- Practice cutting and making collages with all sorts of materials. Cutting is one activity that is fine to do in a random manner. Make confetti!
- Follow the skill progression of lines, zigszags/curves/circles/simple/complex shapes at your child’s pace. Have your child finger trace the line before cutting. Encourage your child to keep elbows tucked in and mouth closed.
- Other activities that support cutting skills are tearing paper, rolling tissue paper balls, folding activities (laundry, origami), cutting play-dough or bread dough, using rolling pin, tongs, etc. HAVE FUN!!
Visual Processing and Spatial Strategies
- Everyday play helps to strengthen the visual processing skills and eye movements used in academics. Younger children might watch a tossed ball by moving their eyes and head together while older children separate eyes from head and can scan the environment or track moving objects by keeping their eyes still. Puzzles, connecting toys and board games are excellent!
- Making ball or marble mazes, rolling, tossing and eye scanning activities helps to develop the eye skills used in reading and tracking print. Practice eye movement activities as part of play. Having children scan left/right/top/bottom to locate information helps spatial organization. Visual memory games using cards and visual search activities like letter location games (find all the *b*letters on signs when driving) are fun and entertaining as well!
- Card games are excellent for both fine motor and visual processing development. Make some!!
- Mazes, dot-to-dots paint-by-number, tick-tack-toe, checkers and letter/word searches are also good for strengthening visual organization.
- Toss games using small stuffies or rolling balls into socks (or pinecones, at my house!!).