Our weekly "Mini Charmers" preschool class gets to play with lots of messy sensory activities that encourage handwriting preparation. Yep, thats right. Work on handwriting without doing handwriting. In the studio, we had a few centers going at once.
Our first center was the cornstarch tubs. Lots of gooey cornstarch, mixed with water, washable paint and small things thrown in. Kids were Encouraged to find and pull out everything they could find-- from frogs to tiny perler beads. The cornstarch is resistive, so this works the finger muscles. The activity also encourages tactile processing as children have to distinguish between textures.
Another preparatory center was our "N" and "M" activity. They cut the big lines out of magazines and placed them on the construction paper. Building letters is a great reinforcer for visual memory of letters and for the stroke too. We use Handwriting Without Tears curriculum so there are lots of building and writing inside of boxes and with consistent language.
In another center were our clothespin activities. Miss. Kelly and the OT students made these foam sea creatures, etc, a few minutes before class. Kids loved adding legs and candles!
Then, we always have our group direct handwriting instruction for our letters of the week. These kids are laying on their stomachs as it increases core strength and helps their forearms and hands be in the correct position. You can see that these 4 years olds are writing their letters very well and independently. These are some bright Charlotte kids!
Starting this Fall, we will be offering a Mini School for children aged 3 and 4. The school will be one afternoon a week for 1.5 hours and is for children with excellent academic abilities who are ready for advanced developmental instruction and sensory exploration that will enhance and refine learning skills. There will be a 3's and a 4's class, each with a maximum of 10 students.
I talk to parents every day who enroll their child for occupational therapy for the first time in order to give their kids a boost in pre-kindergarten skills. Often, the teachers recommend OT to help with pencil grasp, scissor skills, pre-handwriting, or attention / focus issues.
I know it is easy to think that these skills will get better, but if you are working with your child and not noticing progress, don't wait any longer to see an occupational therapist. All of the areas above can be so easy for an occupational therapist to improve...IF caught early. The longer a child uses, for instance, an inefficient grasp pattern the harder it is to change as it becomes more ingrained. Feel free to call the office and speak to Stephanie if you feel your child might benefit from some occupational therapy.
About the blogger: Stephanie Wick is a pediatric occupational therapist that founded and is lead O.T. at Learning Charms.
Read past Blog here