In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of introducing writing skills in a developmentally appropriate sequence. Today, I have a few specific activities you can do with your child to help them get those needed prerequisite skills.
Large muscle coordination develops before small muscle coordination, so today, we talk about ways to work on those large muscles first. Remember back when your child was a baby and you were encouraged to give them plenty of “tummy time”? That tummy time helped to develop their core muscles that are crucial for subsequent motor skills. Believe it or not, having a strong core and good posture are vital for efficient handwriting.
According to The Inspired Treehouse, "it’s difficult to balance, perform coordinated movements on both sides of the body, sit up straight in a chair, hold a pencil, control scissors or jump if you don’t have a strong core. We know that decreased core strength commonly contributes to other issues like W-Sitting and delayed motor skill development."
Here are a few fun activities that you and your child can do together. You will recognize many of them from your own workouts, I imagine and if you are like me, even the adults could use the core work, so don’t stop practicing even after your child has learned to write!
* Wheelbarrow - Have your child place their hands on the ground. You lift up their feet and let them walk across the yard or room using their hands. After they master this, put things on the floor that they can walk to, then pick up and hand to you while maintaining their wheelbarrow balance.
* Knock Me Over - (always a favorite) For small children, hold them on your lap and bounce as if they are “riding a horse.” Suddenly stop and gently try to knock them over. (Bigger children can kneel on the ground instead of sitting on your lap.) The first time or two, it will startle them, but eventually, they will use their body to keep stable. Gradually try to increase the pressure you use to knock them over.
* Crab walk - Sit on the ground with hands on the floor beside hips. Lift hips off of the ground and walk forward and backward with hands and feet.
* Monkey bars - Hanging from monkey bars and eventually learning to move between the bars is a great strength-building exercise.
* Superman - Lay on your tummy with legs straight behind you and arms out in front of you. Lift both hands and arms, letting your tummy stay on the ground. Count to 3 and lower them. Repeat. Once they are able to do this one consistently, try lifting both arms and legs off the ground at the same time.
* Bridge - Lay on your back with your hands down by your side and legs bent. Lift hips off of the ground, keeping arms, shoulders and head on the ground. Count to 3 and lower hips. Repeat.
* Plank - Lay on your stomach with hands on the floor next to your shoulders. Slowly lift your body off of the floor until you are balanced on hands and toes. Count to 3 then lower yourself. Gradually hold the plank longer and longer. Another variation is to hold a low-plank with forearms and toes touching the ground.
There are so many fun ways to help your child strengthen their core regardless of their age, and in return, their bodies will be ready for writing when the time arrives. If you have an older child that struggles with handwriting, try to work some of these playful activities into their routines as well. Not only are they great ways to increase their strength, but they also can serve as a fun way to connect with your child as you do them together!