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Poor Fine-Motor Skills
Q: I have twin first-grade boys who are doing great with reading but have very poor muscle control with writing. This causes them to get impatient and not write well. What can I do to help them?
A: Your twins will not be able to write well until they have developed good fine-motor skills. Fortunately, these skills improve easily with lots of practice. And best of all, this practice should be fun for you and your boys.
Use the following activities to help your sons develop the precision, balance, and hand-eye coordination that are needed to perform the fine-motor skills used in handwriting:
- Have your children play with clay or play-dough to strengthen the major muscles used in handwriting.
- Encourage their play with Legos®, miniature cars, small blocks, action figures, and other small toys.
- Do puzzles with your children.
- Provide creative artwork that involves using crayons, marking pens, scissors, and finger paints, as well as tearing paper.
- Play games with your children that involve the handling of cards and small game pieces.
- Have your children sort collections of coins found in your home into stacks of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
- Help your children learn to manage such everyday skills as tying and lacing their shoes and buttoning their clothes.
Remember, every child has a different timetable in acquiring the fine-motor skills needed for handwriting. The more your children use their fingers in activities, the sooner they will acquire these skills. In the meantime, let them do some of their schoolwork on the computer because handwriting is so difficult for them. And don't forget to read to them and encourage their successful efforts in learning to read.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.