These 5 Exercises Will Help Your Child Learn to Write
The educational trend of 2020 and beyond is home-schooling or remote-learning. Regardless of how you choose to distinguish the two tasks, the onus is now more than ever upon parents and caregivers to deliver critical facets of their charge's education.
Writing comes in many shapes, sizes, scrawls and scribbles. While this article cannot cover every nuance of learning, it will tackle some shared cores and dive into the more specific territory. Of course, exercise has two connotations, the physical and the mental. Both of these are important in writing and will receive due attention. Hopefully, these exercises will make this enhanced responsibility easier for you and impact your child's learning positively.
1. Practice fine motor control with a pen in hand
Fine motor control alludes to the many diverse, small movements required to manipulate a pen or pencil. For the youngest children writing practice is more about developing the skill than getting the individual letters in perfect shape; kid writing is allowed to be messy. So how can you work on this skill, especially if you child's disability makes fine motor control challenging? Practice!
Some say that the best practice for writing is writing, which is one valid school of thought. If your child can learn to write ABCs by repeating the alphabet over and over, bully for you. However, it does get a bit boring. Children thrive on variety. That's why drawing, completing dot-to-dot puzzles and the fantastic free-for-all coloring-in sessions are essential too. Learning letters can come after the pencil has become an extension of your child's body—an extra limb, not a wayward piece of timber.
2. Build from the core
We tend to think writing is all in the hand and wrist, though we need our abdominal muscles to hold us in place. Good posture starts from the middle. Young children get stronger by playing, and it's important not to think of this tip as some sort of training regime. Here are a few of the new games worth trying if you're teaching kid to write.
- Have them put their palms together like they're saying a prayer, and then push their hands against each other as hard as they can for five seconds. Then do a big relaxing release and repeat.
- Another imaginatively fun game is to pretend that the wall is falling down, and they must hold it up.
3. Exercise appropriately
For disabled children, not all exercises will work. As a parent or caregiver, you'll know what your child is capable of doing, and how you can adapt to best meet their needs. Disabilities come in many forms and not all of them are visible. Children with ASD, for example, often require special sensory adjustments. Try this exercise out:
Fill up a fabric bag or pillowcase with some household objects and items. Then, with or without a blindfold, have your child put their hand in and ask them to retrieve a specific item. The purpose of this exercise is to enhance the connections between touch and thought. Alternatively, if appropriate, ask them to describe the properties of the objects without naming them. This exercise will also boost their fine motor control skills.
4. Explore the creative side of writing
Previous points have emphasized the physical underpinnings of actually putting pen to paper. But what about the content? Getting kids into the swing of writing as an activity isn't always easy; the attention-grabbing visual entertainment options on offer can supersede the pull of a written story.
'Good readers make good writers' or so goes the saying. It's the link between those fine motor skills and penning a cute story. When reading together, have your child trace out the shapes of some words. Shared attention is how kids acquire skills. Pointing and following the words as they're being read aloud directs attention even more strongly.
5. Writing exercises for children with dyslexia
Reading is the act of decoding information, and writing is the act of encoding information. That may sound clinical, and that's because it is; dyslexia affects both these functions. However, some strategies can help. These approaches either remediate a skill or compensate for one of the skill deficits integral to dyslexia.
Handwriting is still an essential skill, so while some kids with dyslexia may use technology to mitigate poor writing, it isn't an option for everyone. So let's be fair!
One of the most effective handwriting exercises for dyslexic children is self-feedback. It involves the child writing out a paragraph, a sentence or a word. Then ask them to circle their best letter and the letter that needs the most work. An honest look at mistakes may seem awkward for your child, but with the right encouragement, it can be very beneficial and promote a useful lifelong lesson that extends beyond just writing.
About the Author:
Amanda Dudley is a writer, educator and writing specialist. She earned her Ph.D. in History from Stanford in 2001. Since then, Amanda has continued in academia, lecturing on World and American History and developing techniques for students with learning difficulties, as well as assisting students through part-time work at a writing service.
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