5 Ways to Work on Pencil Grasp Without A Pencil

For an OT in the school system pencil grasp can be a big focus for our students. Knowing how to encourage proper pencil grasp is helpful for all of our young students.

A tripod grasp is functional and it helps with a reduction of pain and hand fatigue.

Many teachers and therapists believe that the dynamic tripod is the only grasp that’s functional. However, there are other functional grasps that are just as sufficient as the tripod grasp.  A tripod grasp does help with more things than just writing like utilizing math manipulatives and engaging in kinesthetic learning with wiki sticks, Play-Doh, and clay.

It’s important  to encourage good pencil grasp early on. After 2nd grade, a grasp becomes “locked in”, and is difficult to change.

How to work on grasp without a pencil

Here are the 5 ways I use to work on pencil grasp with my students.

  Use a Stylus

  • A stylus is convenient to  utilize whenever my students want to engage in an activity on the IPad.  (I am truly passionate about the fact that the students I see have learned to use their index finger so heavily (with technology at an all time high than ever) that the use of a pencil has become very difficult to learn.  Anytime your student is using an IPad, incorporate a stylus. I particularly like the crayon shaped styluses for the younger ones (they are fun and relatable to them).  You can check them out here:

Use Skinny Dry Erase Markers

  • Dry erase markers and chalk are always fun and engaging for the students
  • Writing on a dry erase board/table or utilizing sidewalk chalk
  • Use chalkboard paint to turn any wall or table into a fun writing surface
  • Break the chalk into a shorter piece will aid in enforcing the proper grasp

Magna Doodle & Aqua Doodle

Magna Doodle and Aqua Doodle are awesome tools that make our students feel as if writing and drawing is play and not work (our specialty). Most children haven’t ever seen them.

  • Introduce this tool to draw pre-writing shapes or scribble. They normally come with a short writing utensil (always a plus) and only requires minimal storage space.

A Peg and Clay

Use a short stick (it can be a spare peg, craft stick, etc) to draw in clay, Play-Doh, or shaving cream. You can make this into a creative game with your students. Have them draw a smiley face or a house. Practice shapes and lines.  This works on developing pencil grasp as well as pre-writing skills and visual-motor skills.

Use Fine Motor Toys

There are so many fun fine motor toys to help the development of our student’s pencil grasps.

  • threading beads
  • pegboard activities
  • peeling stickers
  • utilizing tongs
  • stacking blocks

Want more ideas?  Get a free printable handout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Reading:

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About the Author: 

Brittany Turner is a COTA/L (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) and a new member of the Miss Jaime, O.T. team. She has been in the OT field since 2014. She currently works full time in the public school system in Henry County Virginia with students ranging from 2 years of age-5th grade. She is also working PRN in a skilled nursing facility and inpatient rehabilitation. She’s busy in the OT field but she loves seeing the variety of patients and learning new things constantly.

Brittany graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Studies from Winston Salem State University. She enjoys exercising, spending time with her family, and being involved with church activities.

The Eye Exam Kids REALLY Need

The EYE EXAM KIDS REALLY NEED

Did you know that the eye exam that the school gives just looks to see if the child may need glasses?  There are actually WAY more problems that a child can have that would interfere with their progress in school.

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Unfortunately, many children are walking around with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

Nope!

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Visual Efficiency NEEDS TO BE ASSESSED

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

Think of how many children have trouble copying from the board.  That could be due to Accommodation.

Many children struggle with reading. Despite tutoring, they don’t make progress.  That could be a problem with the near vision system.

A child who tends to avoid sports and doesn’t want to play catch may struggle with convergence, and can’t see the ball as it’s coming toward them or they may see double.  

THE TRADITIONAL EYE EXAM DOESN’T ASSESS THESE AREAS.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

A COMPLETE eye exam follows  the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to receive training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

Click the image!

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Uncovering Hidden Vision Deficits in the Classroom

There’s more to vision than just needing glasses

“But he already has glasses!”  Even though we were separated by the phone, I could tell the mom thought I was crazy.   Her son wears glasses every day, and here I just recommended that she take him for a vision exam.

“But there’s more to vision than just needing glasses” I explained.  “He needs a COMPLETE vision exam, so we can see what’s going on”.

Now the mom’s voice was exasperated.  “What are you saying? The doctor did an incomplete exam?” 

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Max was in the third grade.  He was diagnosed with ADHD but his meds just weren’t working.

“He ‘s in reading extra help and math extra help – but they’re not helping!?” 

Mom’s mood changed from angry to confused to sad.

“He’s starting to hate school. I don’t know what to do!” 

Unfortunately, this is pretty common for children with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

But it’s just not true.

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Understanding Visual Efficiency with Children

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

SOmetimes it’s Not ADHD, It’s Vision.

Very often, children with vision difficulties display behaviors such as

  • avoiding work
  • taking much longer to complete reading and writing assignments
  • complaining of headaches
  • difficulty focusing and paying attention

These are also common symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.  So it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly is going on with that student.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

There are two models of vision:

The One Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses

The second, called the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

After all, it’s awfully hard to learn if you can’t see what you’re looking at. 

Max’s mom listened to me explain the different types of eye problems that a complete eye exam would rule out.  “I had no idea that my Dr. may not have looked at that!”

She laughed ruefully. “Half of me is mad…. and the other half is hopeful”

I knew what she meant. Of course, she didn’t WANT Max to have a vision deficit besides needing glasses.  But on the other hand – what if there’s been a hidden problem all along?

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to recieve training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

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6 Ways to Use Wootape at home & in the classroom

 

What is WooTape?

WooTape is the therapeutic handwriting tape that allows parents, teachers, and therapists to accommodate any worksheet or activity in the moment!  Simply peel, tear, and apply the tape to any paper or surface. It comes in three different sizes, so you can accommodate for each child as necessary.

This is so great for students who struggle with spatial awareness and letter size.

handwriting, letter size, spatial awareness, name writing

6 Ways to Use WooTape in the classroom or home

1) Support an early writer’s ability to properly size and place their name consistently

The name line may (or may not exist) on every worksheet a child receives. Regardless, the need to write their name on it will always be required.  Children need to write their name on everything.  After a while, they can scribble it down with their eyes closed. But without enough proper instruction and repetition, the monotony of it can become quick, meaningless, and often the most illegible writing on their paper.

When parents or teachers take the time to add the proper visual boundaries for children’s names on every paper (especially for early writers PK-1st grade), students get in the habit of proportioning the letters correctly. Instead, children sometimes aren’t provided any visual boundaries. This leaves them to guess how tall or wide to make them and helpless when required to spatially organize them.

To better support children, simply add WooTape to the name line to provide a topline and midline before copying worksheets.

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2) Use WOOTAPE TO Adapt charts to improve sizing and spatial organization

There are countless academic tasks with worksheets that leaving large open boxes/spaces to write in. Compare and contrast activities and graphic organizers are the worst culprits. Many times, the teacher requests that students provide a minimum of 3 examples.  When children don’t have visual cues telling them how big to make their letters, they often struggle to make them fit.

Place WooTape on the chart and the child has clear expectations of where their ideas can be written.

3) Label pictures, crafts, or science activities neatly

WooTape is excellent for placing directly on children’s art projects.  They can identify people in their pictures, give a title to their art piece, or label the parts of an insect or flower. These are tasks they are usually expected to do without proper visual supports.  This can end up ruining the finished product because they end up writing all over the page.

Instead, provide them a small piece of WooTape where it is needed, so the child can keep the overall creation clean, organized, and legible.

4) Use WOOTAPE to support grasp development and wrist alignment by using on a vertical surface

WooTape is fantastic for placing on any flat surface. Because there is a slight tackiness on the back, it is easily removable from most surfaces without damage making it the perfect handwriting intervention to place on walls, mirrors, windows, and doors or even under tables!

Working on a vertical surface is great for working on upper extremity strength, wrist stability, and pencil grasp.

Most walls have some sort of texture, so using WooTape on these surfaces provides lots of opportunities for tactile feedback.

(Disclaimer: when allowing your child to write on walls with WooTape, use a tool such as a pencil where it is easier to erased or wiped off)

5) Use it as a visual guide to improving cutting accuracy

Place any size WooTape on paper (preferably a thick cardstock or index card) and encourage the child to cut on the dashed line. If the child stays within the bolded sidelines, it is easy to track progress toward their cutting goal.

6) Wootape encourages fine motor skills and independence

Using tape has a lot of therapeutic benefits—fine motor skills to peel up the edge, bilateral coordination, and grading of force to unroll some but not too much tape.  It also takes and strength and coordination to tear a piece off.

Many students are able to master these skills independently by the 2nd grade. This allows them to accommodate their own work without assistance from an adult. Now the teacher can support other students in the class, and the child’s success and confidence are boosted by adding some quick and straightforward visual boundaries to consistently produce legible work.

For the rest of the month of April, you can get a 20% discount on Wootape with the promo code  OTMONTH.

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Teletherapy for school-based practitioners

 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was flooded with questions from therapists who were suddenly thrust into the world of OT telehealth, also known as teletherapy.  Personally, I had never done it, but I’ve always been interested in learning more about telehealth for school-based practitioners. I had the pleasure of interviewing two school-based occupational therapy practitioners, who happily shared their telehealth tips, tricks, and strategies.

Interview with Lesley Geyer, MA, OTR/L & Kendra Cooper, OTR/L

Getting Started in PT and OT TeletheALTH

What is your number 1 tip for therapists that are new to teletherapy?
  • Don’t expect perfection. We are not in ideal times.
  • Do your best and provide lots of consultation.
  • Find a friend to do a practice session with.
What do therapists need to be concerned about with licensure and state telehealth regulations?
  • You need to be familiar with your particular state’s licensure act and what it says about telehealth. Also, check to see if your state has any telehealth statutes.
  • Keep in mind, OT uses “telehealth” but other disciplines use different terminology.
  • Be sure the student is located in the state where you hold a license during all sessions.
  • Notify your malpractice insurance carrier that you are providing services via telehealth

TelEHEALTH & PRIVACY

When it comes to teletherapy, a huge point of concern is privacy for students. How can therapists who are suddenly thrust into teletherapy comply with privacy rules and regulations? What programs do you recommend for teletherapy?
  • You want to use a program that is HIPAA/FERPA compliant (Zoom and Go to Meeting have versions that are).
  • Skype and Facetime are not.
  • Both student and therapist should be using secure servers. Public servers are not safe options.
  • Both student and therapist should also be in a private room.
Are group sessions allowed in teletherapy? Does that violate FERPA?
  • We do group sessions frequently. Our students are in virtual classes with other students. We explain the group process to parents ahead of time to be sure they are OK with it. We use only first names.
  • You can provide an Informed Consent form for parents to sign. Check your school’s policy and state laws and regulations to assure compliance.

What exactly is considered Telehealth?

Many therapists are providing families with videos or packets of activities. Does teletherapy have to be LIVE in order for it to be considered teletherapy?
  • Teletherapy can be live or Store and Forward where a video is recorded and accessed by the client/family at a later time. It must be a video.   If it’s just packets, we consider it to be a Home Exercise Program. 

Effective planning of teletherapy sessions

What is the best way to plan for our teletherapy sessions and not overwhelm the student’s guardians with (handouts, worksheets, activities, education, etc) with everything else going on?
  • Platforms such as Smart Notebook/Smart Exchange and virtual whiteboards are very helpful, online programs such as Go Noodle have many videos that can be used to base a session around
Do you have any time-saving strategies? Tips to cut back on the planning or the paperwork?
  • You should continue with the same documentation you were required to do when you saw the child on-site.
  • Continue data collection for goals but use caregivers/learning coaches to report and assist with data collection.
  • For time-saving prep short videos, save favorites/websites in Word docs for quick access, save individual or category type of Smart Folders. You can begin an activity and begin again where you last left off in the program.
  • Send handouts such as handwriting worksheets or sensory online links in separate emails so that the family/you have quick access during a session to print out/review resources.
  • Daily computer cleans are simple and can improve your computer’s usage and ensure efficiency.
How do you recommend that therapists send or share videos with families? Large files are too big, should they post the videos? Use a cloud drive?
  • Youtube can be used but be careful not to include any confidential information. You can post a video and make it “unlisted”. When you share the link, parents can view the video, but it’s not public. Screen Caster is a wonderful free easy to use the option to create a video to share.

TELETHERAPY FOR Challenging students

Many therapists are finding their OT and PT treatment sessions very challenging with students who have lower cognitive levels and are non-verbal. Also the students that have decreased attention, are defiant, or have limited mobility. How would a teletherapy session look different than a direct treatment session?
  • Sometimes you have to use more of a consultative model with students and guide the caregiver through therapeutic activities.
  • Work with the caregiver to set-up behavior intervention plans and arrange for rewards for good behavior and work completion.
  • Use what the student has in their own environment as motivators e.g. toys, pets, parent-approved videos, animated rewards, at home reward system
Do you have suggestions for OT or PT treatment activities for these types of students?
  • Not all students are appropriate for PT and OT telehealth sessions and need on-site therapy. At this point, this is not possible.
  • For students where you are determining their functioning level, ensure caregiver presence for safety and be prepared to stop a session if you have any safety concerns.
  • Use Smart Notebook simple tasks like matching activities, clicking with a mouse on large targets or using a student’s on-site toys. Use multimedia items online to aid engagement in the task: interactive programs, annotation tools
What about hands-on treatment or cues? Do you instruct the parent in techniques? How involved is the parent? Or how involved CAN the parent be?
  • It depends on the age and level of the student.
  • For younger children and those with more intense needs, the parent attends the session with the child and assists as directed by the OT.
  • Older students may do their sessions without a parent/learning coach present.
  • There is often lots of parent instruction and consultation that occurs. This includes verbal cues, demonstration of the task first with the parent, and education for Hand Over Hand and fading cueing/assist

OT Telehealth for gross motor skills

What about gross motor activities? Do you do them along with the student? Show pictures of what you want them to do, etc.?
  • Often we model first, then observe and have a learning coach there to help with any hands-on assist that might be needed. They could be done with a child following your lead and doing them together.
  • A wide-angle webcam can be helpful. Videos can be a wonderful addition, music, and activities that work well in small spaces vs. a large gym.
  • Consider using bodyweight exercises and animal walks. Yoga, stop/freeze games, and obstacle courses with at-home items.  Use a visual model with reps and dance videos. Take precautions prior to beginning any gross motor tasks. Have the caregiver move the computer/webcam around the work area to ensure it’s safe, well lit and free of clutter.

TEleTherapy and handwriting

Writing over teletherapy is so different. What are your top tips for addressing handwriting via teletherapy?
  • A separate webcam really helps with this. You can also practice ahead with pulling your screen partway down to show tabletop and then have the caregiver do this to view handwriting work if there is not a webcam available.
  • Also, provide more handwriting space on the table  by pushing the computer back. Often students require a visual model on their own paper vs looking on the screen.
  • Email paper types ahead so you and the student have the exact same page. A plastic sheet protector works very well to allow dry erase marker usage and then can be used repeatedly.
For regular therapy, most therapists provide reward time at the end of their sessions. It helps our students get through challenging tasks and is also motivating. What is something fun and rewarding we can offer to our students at the end of our teletherapy sessions?
  • Allow time to play on a favorite toy or App, parent-approved virtual game/video, or use of virtual reward stickers.
  • Bring your or their pet in to see/share. Work with the family to develop a plan for a reward for good work during a session (a tangible treat the parent supplies)
What are your go-to treatment Ideas for kids who have very limited (if any) tools to use at home for treatment such as scissors, markers, shaving cream, etc.?
  • Bubble wrap, carrying and lifting heavy objects, moving furniture, and animal walks for proprioceptive input.
  • We do a lot of with self-regulation using programs like the Alert Program and Zones of Regulation, maximize online virtual games, trivia, videos.
  • Use supplies in the home consider “home care” types of modalities such as cooking, gardening, making homemade play dough, art and craft projects.
  • See what games or toys the student has, board games can be wonderful, using sports equipment such as child bowling sets, marbles, hula hoops, and ball based games.

 

best tech equipment for OT TElethealth

 Is there any special tech equipment that can help make sessions easier?
  • If your internet connection isn’t great, use an ethernet cable to attach directly to the modem for improved internet connection speed & reliability when using various meeting platforms & programs.
  • Separate webcams (moveable, multi direction for practitioner/student) are a huge help and there are a variety of stand devices you can use with them.
  • A headset improves computer audio output/input, reduces ambient noise
  • A mouse and touch pad help for therapist demonstration
  • Webcam mount: optional aid for webcam for handwriting or table top work, match to your webcam base and set up needs
  • External document camera: optional aid to enhance video for handwriting and closer work
 What do you find to be the most common obstacles for telehealth?

We did a study:

  • Technology
  • Attendance
  • Family communication
  • Dealing with attention problems
  • Dealing with negative behavior
  • Communicating with student
  • Addressing motor and sensory needs
  • Completing evaluations

occupational therapy evaluations and telehealth

Can you complete evaluations virtually?

Yes, but you need to use mainly checklist type tools and questionnaires. The DAY-C, SFA, SP and SPM are easy to use. You may use the Beery VMI but you need to mail booklets to families and they need to mail them back to you. You can use other tools and mention in your report that the tool was used in a non-standardized manner due to the session being virtual.

DON’T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR RESOURCES!

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manipulation, fine motor, OT, manipulative scissors, fine motor, manipulation, OT, development, gross motor, MissJaimeOT occupational therapy, OT, MissJaimeOT, special needs,

Miss Jaime, O.T.’s Favorite Visual Perception Toys for Children

The best visual perception toys for children

When parents hear the phrase “visual perception”, they often think it has to do with their child’s vision, and whether or not they need glasses. But in all actuality, visual perception is how your brain perceives what you’re seeing with your eyes.

If your child is struggling with spacing during handwriting, lining up math problems, or finding a specific color crayon in the box, this may be an indicator that your child is struggling with their visual perception skills. It’s a broad term, and professional diagnosis is recommended, but it is something to keep in mind.

For occupational therapy and improving your child’s visual perception skills, there are toys on the market that can be used to grow their abilities. I have a printable list of ALL my favorite visual perceptual toys, you can get it here.visual perception, visual perceptual toys, visual discrimination, visual figure ground

I have MANY favorites, but today, I’m going to talk about just two.

Hammer and nail toy

This toy is known by a few different names. It’s a toy with pattern cards featuring different shapes, where a child must find the correct shape and place it in the right spot. In order to achieve that, they’ll need to use tiny nails to create a replica of the shape they’re attempting to copy.

The toy comes with nails, shape cards, and a hammer, which requires hand-eye coordination from the user, as it’s required to complete the shapes properly. It develops your child’s puzzle/ problem-solving skills as well as spatial orientation. The toy is meant for younger children, so the ideal user is between four and eight, although you’ll need to carefully watch children during use, as the small nails can be dangerous.  I’ve found that even my middle school kids like this one!

On sale for $24.99!

“Shape by shape” toy

If your child is in middle school, or you’re looking for a more advanced visual perception toy, then the “shape by shape” is a good option to consider. With this shape game, there are several different shapes that have to fit exactly within a square box, in order to successfully complete the puzzle. There’s a photo that acts as a guide for completing the task, but requires the child to carefully look at the box and see how the pieces fit together.

It can be fairly challenging, but there are some hints that can be used to assist your child. This toy is meant for children from ages eight and above, all the way up to adulthood, depending on the help given to your child, and how many hints you can provide.

Developing your child’s visual perception skills takes time, but it is an important investment in time and effort.

5 Strategies to Raising a Confident Kid

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

I’ve spent years watching kindergarten students acclimate to the classroom. Some students set themselves apart from their peers immediately:

  • they are very verbal
  • they can already read or demonstrate strong foundational literacy skills
  • they have great drawing or writing skills

But then- there are the little kids who have more common sense, can problem solve and are very self-sufficient in the classroom.

Quite often, these students are some of the most successful learners!  

What sets self-sufficient students apart from the rest? 

    • They don’t wait for an adult to help them
    • They are more confident in trying things themselves 
    • They are not afraid to take responsibility for getting a job done
    • They may not have the answer to every academic question but they are the first to volunteer for anything

The benefits of building confidence in a young child

These confident kids know where to find supplies in the classroom.  They make great messengers, and peer buddies for less confident kiddos.   They’re not afraid to take a risk or try something new.

As classroom learners, these are a great skill to possess at a young age.  Independence and confidence will help young kids excel as students.  

START EARLY

Even toddlers love to “help” mom or dad. Let them!  By giving them small jobs at an early age, you are setting them up for a bright future as an independent preschooler.

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

Do a little less FOR them.  This will help your child learn to do more on their own.

1.  Give up Control of the Schoolbag: When a child packs his or her own school bag, they know what’s there and what to give to the teacher.  Rather than emptying and filling a child’s folder for them, let them take ownership.  In preschool, they barely have anything in there.  Tell them about the permission slip or notebook so they become responsible to give it to their teacher.  Then let them be in charge of it.  This means wearing it or carrying it, too. *If the backpack is too big for them to do it by themselves, it’s too big! 

“Let’s face it,  it’s faster and easier to do certain things FOR your children.”

But truthfully, you are doing them a disservice.  If you do too much for your child and make everything “easy” for them, you may be creating a more dependent child.   Plus, this makes more work for you!   

2. Resist the Urge to Get Your Kid Dressed:  If a child is able to perform a dressing task, they should be doing it every day!  Life gets hectic, of course.  But try to give your child enough time in the morning to do the parts that they can.  Rushing through the task of getting dressed doesn’t help you in the long run.  Again, it keeps this chore on your never-ending list of morning to-dos!

Think about it:

Aren’t you tired?  Why are you creating a cycle where you are doing more than you need to?  Back off, Momma! It’s ok! 

3. Doing Homework:  If kids can do homework themselves, let them!  Before you explain what to do, ask your child to explain to you, what needs to be done on the page.  This improves their language and thinking skills at the same time.  If they know what to do, let them work independently! If your child needs guidance, only help on the first few questions.  Then back away and let them try on their own. Only give help when it is truly needed.

3. Checking Homework:  Let your kids do the first part of the page on their own and see if they are doing it correctly.  If they need some help, give it but don’t help too much. I don’t want to take away my kids’ thinking time.  Kids need more time than we do to think about the answers.  

If an answer is wrong, don’t tell them the right answer!  This takes away a great problem-solving opportunity.  Instead, say, “look at #3 again” or “read this question over one more time.”  Give your child the chance to decide what was wrong, why it is wrong and how to get the correct answer.  This is where the real thinking, learning, and carry over to other problems happen.  

GET THEM STARTED EARLY. THEY CAN PACK SNACK AS A TODDLER!

4. Lunch box:  Teach your child the best way to pack their own lunch box!  Let them choose their own snack (from approved choices).

They don’t need to make their own lunch yet, just let them learn how to pack it.  This teaches children to be responsible, manage their time in the morning and hopefully make good food choices.  

Plus, it sets them up for the future of making their own lunch, taking yet ANOTHER chore away from you…

ASK THEM INSTEAD OF TELLING THEM

5. Being prepared for preschool:  Rather than saying, today is Tuesday, you need to remember your “Show and Tell”.  Slowly shift the remembering and responsibility to your child. Ask him, What day is it?  What do you need to remember on Tuesdays?  This small change helps your child learn to think and plan ahead.

When you spend your career studying 5-year-olds, these subtle differences are noticeable even in kindergarten!  Sometimes birth order plays a part in this; but not always.  I’ve seen this capable confidence in firstborns, last borns, and only children. 

My belief is that it has more to do with parenting styles than other factors.  

DO LESS, Mom and Dad!

Try to do a little less for your toddler or preschooler so he or she learns to do more on their own.  When children can think and problem-solve, it helps them to be more confident and independent.

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About the Author:

Gloria is a Juggling Teacher and Mother of four, with a primary focus in Special Education, Technology and Early Childhood Education. She has over 30 years of classroom experience and strives to incorporate the SmartBoard, iPad and all available technology into her lessons. Most important of all, she wants her students to have fun while they are learning.

After many wonderful years in the classroom, Gloria is now beginning her second career. Her new activities include working as a Pre-School Educational Technology Teacher and Itinerant Teacher for Special needs students and their families. Gloria also creates products for her TeachersPayTeachers store and writes. Her favorite pastimes include Paddle Boarding, yoga and reading at the beach!