by Elizabeth Cameron
Summer is just around the corner and a perfect time of year to help your child work on improving handwriting and reading skills through play. Handwriting and reading are closely related to core strength and body movement. The same way a tree needs a strong trunk to support its branches, our bodies need a strong core to anchor us and also provide the launch pad for our gross and fine motor skills as well as our vision and cognitive development.
We work with our infant children by providing tummy time for them to learn to crawl. This is not just to encourage them to become mobile, but to develop strength in their hips, abdomen, shoulders and neck. Did you know that tummy time is just as important for a growing child as it is for an infant? Time spent increasing core strength and providing movement activities for children connect the neural pathways in their brains for higher learning concepts like reading, math, spelling, auditory processing and retention of academic concepts.
Strong stable bodies lead to increased stamina in the classroom and improved vision strength, which leads to better handwriting skills, which help develop better spelling skills and reading circuitry in the brain. It’s all connected!
So what can you do over s?
- Encourage your children to write on a vertical surface. Writing on a vertical surface can increase shoulder strength and fine motor coordination, visual attention and hand-eye coordination. It can also build core strength by working in a kneeling or standing position.
- Climb! Encourage climbing trees, climbing up a slide, climbing stairs on all fours, climbing monkey bars and playground equipment.
- Chores at home! Give your child a section of floor or baseboards to scrub on all fours. Sweeping, mopping, wiping down walls and pulling weeds are all great ways to build core strength.
- Pushing and pulling activities like pushing chairs in at the table, pulling a heavy laundry basket across a room, pushing a stroller, pulling a wagon and swinging using their legs to pump are all ways to engage their core.
- Play games doing wheelbarrow walking, crab crawling, jump rope, scooter board races, playing basketball, swimming races and jumping on the trampoline.
- Start the day with jumping jacks, sit-ups, crunches or other callisthenic movements to get the body moving and wake up the brain!
- Use fun activities for handwriting practice. Encourage proper letter formation and pencil grip to build good writing habits. The way a child forms a letter is much more important than the way it looks!
- Write on the driveway with chalk or paint the sidewalk with water.
- Trace letters on the tiles in the bathtub with soap, or use shaving cream on a cookie sheet.
- Write your name in the sand at the beach.
- Finger paint with hair gel or pudding.
- Spend time on their belly writing, drawing and coloring.
We hope you all have a wonderful summer making great memories with your families. We can’t wait to see our STRONG students in August!
Christ Methodist Day School first opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. We encourage you to come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.