Pushing kids into writing before they are developmentally ready happens to be one of my pet peeves. (I actually have quite a few of them, you can read all about them here. )
Experience has shown me is that children should NOT be pushed into handwriting before they’re ready. So many kids are entering Kindergarten without the basic pre-writing skills they need. Yet the Kindergarten curriculum expects them to be writing right away!
Before handwriting, children need to master pre-writing skills
Pre-writing skills are the lines, shapes, and strokes kids need to master and know before learning how to print the alphabet. They develop from 1 year to 5 years old.
Pre-writing skills ARE important.
Kids need to learn and master pre-writing lines, strokes, and shapes and strengthen their fine
motor skills before learning how to form the letters of their name or the alphabet.
1-2 years old:
A baby is typically scribbling and learning to make marks on a paper. They are probably holding a crayon or marker with their whole hand. This is called a palmar supinate grasp.
As they develop more control, the next step is to imitate. Maybe you make a line or shape and
then your child imitates that same line or shape.
Last week was a complete whirlwind – whew. I’m finally getting settled at home, but I wanted to share my highlights of the American Occupational Therapy Association conference in New Orleans, LA.
Reuniting with old friends from across the country and making new ones!
Every year, two of my girlfriends from Utica College and I attend the conference together, and it feels like we are right back in college. This year, I also got to hang out with my friend and fellow OT blogger Colleen Beck (From the OT Toolbox) and two other admins of my USA School Based OTs Looking for Change group (Serena Zeidler and Joan Sauvigne-Kirsch). We had so much fun and definitely had some major brainstorming over the last few days. It’s amazing what a bunch of OT brains can come up with! I also attended the AOTA reception for the Communities of Practice. I’m in the state leadership group, so I had the chance to mingle with all the ladies I work with all year long.
You may have heard the buzz about Occupational Therapists advocating for Educational Credentialing. Especially if you work in the education world.
What is Educational Credentialing?
State Education laws vary from state to state. But in every single state in the USA (except for four), OTs and PTs are not under the “umbrella” of teachers. They do not have “educational credentials”.
This started in the past. Way in the past, because OTs and PTs were considered “medical” (like the nurses). However, educational laws have changed to a more inclusive educational community. This changed how OTs and PTs are employed.
Now, school therapists support children’s academic success. Unfortunately, the state education departments haven’t revised their terminology and laws to include OTs and PTs as “educators”. YET.
Primitive reflexes start to develop in utero and they actually help the baby get down the birth canal during labor. (Who knew!?) A reflex is an automatic motor response that is triggered by a stimulus.
Calling all OTs! Need some shortcuts for back to school? Check out the Ultimate Therapy Bundle! Available this week only.
I’ve been a HUGE organization kick lately. Every month or so I need to clean out my therapy bag. Inevitably, I find things out of order, things I need to change up or replace, and things that are missing pieces, etc.
I once posted a pic of the crazy amount of stuff in my bag and everyone on Facebook went crazy commenting and asking questions. I figured, why not share this “clean out” phase with all of you?
In-hand manipulation is the ability to manipulate objects in the fingers and hand or adjust an object within the hand after grasping it.
There are three types of in-hand manipulation:
1) Translation – the ability to move an object from the fingers to the palm or from the palm to the fingers. An example of this would be picking up a penny and moving it into the palm of the hand, and then manipulating it back to the thumb and fingers to put it in a bank. This skill starts to develop between the ages of 1.5 to 2.5 years old.
2) Rotation – the ability to rotate or turn an object in the pad of the fingers. Simple rotation could be turning a bead so you can put something through the hole. More complex rotation might be making “meatballs” with playdough within one hand using the thumb and fingers. (This is one is always a challenge for my kids!)
3) Shift – the thumb and fingers manipulate an object in a linear movement after it’s been grasped. Think of picking up a pencil near the eraser and then “shifting” or “walking” the fingers up toward the point. (developing between 4 to 5 years)
What to Look For:
When you’re looking at a child’s in-hand manipulation skills, it’s important to note their speed and accuracy. I find that a lot of my kids drop things or “stumble” through in-hand manipulation tasks. Their speed and accuracy improve with natural development but lots of fine motor and manipulation activities are always helpful in pushing these skills along!
Kids who still haven’t developed in-hand manipulation often use compensatory strategies to accomplish the task in front of them. For instance, if they are trying to manipulate a peg into a pegboard, but it’s upside down, they may touch it to their chest to turn it. This is because they don’t have the higher-level manipulation skills to turn it within their hand.
Other compensatory strategies to look for:
-dropping the pegs or coins to pick them up in a different way
using their other hand to turn the object
picking up one object at a time
How do you know if they are making progress?
I like to use progress monitoring sheets to keep track of my kids’ manipulation skills. These allow me to easily check off what activity I used, what goal I targeted, AND how my student did!
Progress monitoring and keeping data are an important way to measure how and if your students are making progress.
This printable Manipulation Activity Packet includes a simple tracking sheet that allows you to keep data while staying focused on your child and the exciting fine motor challenge at hand.