Did you know that folding paper was so difficult!!!!!!
So imagine you are asked to fold a narrow piece of paper edge to edge. Do you understand the word edge? In this context? It's not the edge of a cliff! So the action starts and you lift up the edge nearest you and take it to the other edge (I'm assuming you do understand the word edge). Then what? Hold it there.....how to make it stay there? Oh, push down on the looped part of the paper. Done. Oh, no, it has sprung up. What to do? Actually, you need to push firmly along the very edge.....is that an edge too? Yes, right on the edge. And all the way along. Completely all the way along.
Right, got that.
And now, what about a wider piece of paper. Well, it gets trickier. You need to coordinate more fingers and different pressure.
And then, what about folding a piece of paper along a line. So you have a narrow piece of paper and you fold it over. Oo..oh. Can't see the line!! How do you do it? Well, the planning and coordination is quite fine. You need to fold it nearly over and then continue to peep under to see if it looks like the fold is going to. And then also look to see if the fold is straight. Oh boy! Tricky. You need to be able to visualise where the line is, even when you can't see it. OK. can you do this?
When children draw, they reveal how they perceive the world and themselves. It is interesting to hear how they interpret the lines they draw. When children first want to draw, they draw lines, such as down, across, rainbow and circular. It is important that they can experiment and look at the shapes of the lines with curiosity.
Then they may decide that the lines look like something they know and name the drawing. They may start with an idea and because the lines look like something else to them, they then label it as something different. This is to be expected, and it shows that they are thinking and seeing similarities as well as approximations. Imagination is developing.
When they to the stage of drawing recognisable things, then is where we get to see stuff. Like when children draw people, to begin with, they draw them without tummy's. Just head with features, legs and arms. Gradually more features are added and the tummy as well.
Sometimes a person is drawn on their side and you could ask: "What does this mean?". Does the child see people as if on their sides? Maybe they turn the paper round after having drawn it, so it is right way up. Or if they don't, it could be an issue in perception and translation to drawing. Some children who have been born prematurely do this. Or a person is drawn upside down. Again, a perception issue. The brain needs to develop more to get the positioning right. Maybe the child also has difficulty with building blocks with gaps between them showing an issue with spatiality. Or you may notice some things about orientation in other situations, e.g. looking at books upside down
If they do draw the person right way up but leave off features, maybe they are not yet aware of those details.
Sometimes a child will draw the features of a face but no lines showing the edge of the head. Or the features may be in odd places. These also show issues with perception, spatiality and orientation.
Some children are great at the big fast movements, like running, kicking a ball, climbing, and seem well co-ordinated. It can therefore be difficult to understand how come they struggle with controlling a pencil. Just know, that it is easier to make movements fast and big than it is to make small controlled movements. Fine motor movements are a more advanced developmental stage. They require fine motor planning, rather than force and momentum.
Small controlled movements such as are needed for printing require a number of factors to be in place.
1. Whole body strength. Challenge the fast moving child to do some movements slower. This requires controlled strength rather than momentum strength. It requires an awareness (maybe unconscious) of the pressure of joints and muscles together, and the sequence of movements.
2. Shoulder strength. The shoulder supports the arm which connects to the hand and fingers. In order the print letters with appropriate pressure and direction, shoulder strength is needed. Encourage the child to carry heavy objects, hang from bars, and be a wheelbarrow.
3. Eye-hand co-ordination. How is your child at visually tracking? Is the tracking systematic or all over the place? How is the co-ordination needed for constructing with lego? And how is the pressure that is needed to join blocks together - too much? Too little? The use of a variety of construction toys is useful to develop eye-hand co-ordination and pressure.
4. Laterality. Often it is noticed that children who move fast are using their body as one whole object rather than as a body that has 2 halves and a number of parts. Encourage any activity that requires the child to cross the midline. You might notice that you hand the child things mainly to one side or the middle. Vary it. Can they throw, catch and kick a ball spontaneously in different positions? Practise crossing a foot across the other side of a line while walking. Make a pretend beam with a strip of cardboard - jump side to side, walk along stepping with the opposite foot to the opposite side.
5. Awareness of fine motor movements. Play with textures increases awareness. Hand play with playdough, sand, finger paint, etc. Drawing in sand or salt gives the child sensory feedback about their movements as long as they use their vision to make the connection. Use of pencils which give sensory or auditory feedback are useful - carbon pencils.
The ability to make slow movements can be assisted to develop by using the above ideas. Any activities that encourage slow movements without being too challenging are helpful. For example, as in the photo, moving the box that contains little marbles to enable them to sit into small hollows requires small graduated movements. One over sized movement makes all the balls roll out of the hollows.