FAQ’S from the Tips, Grips & Kits for Handwriting Workshop
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
On the evening of Wednesday February 9, 2011, POTS hosted an interactive evening that was both fun-filled and informative. Parents and teachers joined us to learn how to get children’s hands ready for writing and drawing with innovative and exciting activities from our toolbox and manual. Using a variety of creative multisensory activities, parents and teachers were instructed how to choose and utilize appropriate tools and materials to keep children enthusiastic about writing.
Q: Is it ok for my child to use markers, or should I only offer crayons?
A: All writing implements have their place. Crayons are great for helping children learn to modulate pressure appropriately. Children get more feedback from pushing on a crayon than a marker, which in turn helps them learn how much force to exert. Markers are particularly effective for children who apply so little pressure on the crayon that their work can barely be seen. When they use a marker, they get the satisfying result of vividly seeing the fruits of their labor, which keeps them motivated. Keep drawing and coloring activities fun and gratifying so children keep coming back for more.
Q: My child generally does drawing/writing activities at the dining room table, but the chairs do not appear to fit him well, he moves around a lot and his feet dangle. What other options are there?
A: It is extremely important for children to be seated properly at a table, particularly when doing fine motor activities, drawing, and writing. Poor posture limits the ability of the hands to do their best work and automatically places the child at a disadvantage. One option is to tailor your existing chairs to better suit your child’s size by placing a phone book or shoebox under his feet so that his hips, knees, and ankles are at a 90 degree angle. Alternatively, turn the entire chair around and allow your child to kneel at the table. Alternatively, the Tripp Trapp chair (www.stokke.com) is an ideal seating option for children. The seat and foot rest are both adjustable, making it an excellent choice for your growing child.
Q: My 5 year old child uses a fisted grasp when coloring/writing. When I place her hand on the crayon properly, she complains of pain. Why?
A: By the time children are 4½ years old, they are expected to have a mature dynamic tripod grasp. In order to achieve that grasp, the small muscles within the hand must be strong and well developed. When a 5 year old child is consistently holds a writing implement with a fisted grasp and cannot sustain a tripod grasp, it indicates that there is weakness in the hands.
Q: Now that I have all these great games and activities to use with my child, how do I know how many repetitions of an activity I should do?
A: Look for quality instead quantity. The goal is to improve your child’s performance by solidifying good habits. Practice an exercise 3 times with your child doing it properly with excellent posture and positioning rather than 10 times reinforcing a pattern that is less than ideal. Once you have achieved good quality, gradually increase the time/repetitions over which it can be maintained.
Blog written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR/L Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR, Director of POTS