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.
Do you emerge from a teacher interview feeling like you have been judged as a good parent or a not good enough parent?
We are so connected to our children and we want the best for them. We also want them to keep up with whatever learning is taking place at school. No matter what we do, we cannot fully determine how they do at school. You might take them to catch-up classes in reading or maths or learning, or to other extra-curricula activities. You might help them with homework. Maybe you do some extra work with them. And even then, your child does not reach a standard in an area.
Feeling the pressure? Awful, isn't it. Judging yourself? It's hard not too. It's like your child is part of you, and any perceived judgement is aimed straight at you. Criticising yourself? Letting the child know about it?
Please know, that you have been doing your best. You love your child. And you might say that your best is not good enough and therefore you are not good enough. It's easy to get into this way of thinking.
You want the best for your child. The teacher wants the best too. He or she wants your child to learn effectively and easily. They are doing their best, though may not be able or have the time to really understand your child's learning needs.
Regardless, the standards are not of your child's teacher's making. Can every child really reach the same standard? I heard a politician say that the education emphasis is on achievement and standards are part of that. Really? Does not make sense to me. Children are individuals. They are not the same. How can they reach the same standard as everyone else in all areas? If a teacher is teaching to the standards only, they are doing a disservice to children. The world needs people who are themselves - confident in how they are and understanding of the way they learn and function. What sort of world will it be if people strive to reach an imposed standard, without considering the expansiveness of developing creativity and problem solving? Think about the wider picture. The standards are the current thing in education. Fast forward a few years and it will be something else. Standards are not the be-all and end-all. If your child is behind a standard in an area of learning, then don't take on responsibility to fix it. It is the teacher's job to figure out ways to improve a child's learning. Ask what they are going to do about it. The teacher is the teacher. You are the parent.
So YOU....the parent of a child. Celebrate all aspects of your child's learning and stop trying to make him or her catch up in all areas. Catch up to what? Celebrate your child, advocate for your child in the system, be strong and know that your best will be best. And toss that judgement stuff out the window.
There are a variety of boards available that have a magnet on a rod (to be held like a pencil), and little metal balls under a perspex cover. See photo.
The object is the move the balls using the rod with the magnet on the end. In order to move the balls along a path requires a person to plan movements. The paths include many corners. It's a bit like a maze. They come in different levels of difficulty and different appeals for children. There can also be a challenge of coordinating vision and developing the use of vision, especially as the ball cannot always be seen clearly, depending on the angle of the rod being held.
These boards are valuable in teaching a child to plan their fine motor movements. They need to be moving the ball and at the same time, using vision coordinated with thinking, to plan ahead. Great for learning to integrate these skills. These boards will develop skills that will be useful in printing letters.
Folding paper is one of those skills that us adults generally take for granted. But some children need to be taught every little step that is involved.
The photo shows strips of paper that i used to teach a child 2 types of folding: folding along a dotted line and folding an edge to another edge. Starting with smallish pieces of paper makes the task slightly more easy to master. Some people may think it more motivating or more interesting to have a project to make something in particular, but this will mean that an increased number of factors need to be thought about and more movements planned. Keep it simple.
Folding along a dotted line is actually more difficult because one has to hold the image of where the line is, in one's mind. And if there is an issue with spatial placement then this will be even more difficult. So to learn, one has to start to fold, and then visually check, and repeat this, at the same time using an ability to keep it straight. The final step is to run one's finger along the edge. Not away from the edge but right on the edge. So placing the index or middle finger so the edge is positioned in the middle of the finger, then exerting pressure as the finger is moved along the edge. Exerting pressure and moving in the right direction and staying on the edge can be tricky for some children.
Folding edge to edge also involves visual spatial skills: bending the paper over and lining it up along the other edge can be difficult for some children. Once that is achieved, then one hand needs to hold the edges in position while the other hand needs to use a finger to again exert pressure along the folded edge to create the fold.
Some children strongly want to win at any game. Is this because the parents have installed this in their child? Usually NO. Maybe sometimes the concept of winning has been talked about with such pride that the child really wants to win and have that pride. Parents may watch races on TV, or sports, where there is a lot of cheering going on for the winner. Sometimes it is a temporary stage that a child goes through.
However, there are some children for whom winning is the only thing to do, or else total meltdown follows. Or being upset.
I have observed this in many children that I have worked with over the years. These children are those who have a need for perfection and being right. They like any activity to be super clear and straightforward with rigid rules. They have issues with integrating incoming information from their senses and many tasks are an effort, leading to a need for something to stay clear.
Often the other positions at the end of a game are not clear. Do we talk about being second or third with such clarity and emphasis? No. The only way to clarity in a game is to be the winner.
1. Play lots of games, even though the temptation is to avoid them.
2. Play a variety of games where the ending is different to having a clear winner.
3. Prepare the child beforehand. Write the rules down. Ask how s/he will feel if s/he wins. Ask how s/he will feel if get second. Ask how s/he will feel at different points of the games and say how you will feel, so they get an understanding that everyone feels differently at different stages.
4. If it is a game which involves some backwards movements, such as a snakes and ladders type game, encourage the child to have a good look first and chat about it together, creating a sense of fun (even if just on your part) about the game.
5. During the pre-game chat, talk about what's involved in the different parts so that a greater understanding of the essence of the game is developed.
6. If your child becomes upset during the game, treat the upset matter-of-factly. Do not try and persuade your child to feel otherwise. Acknowledge the child's feeling without getting caught up in emotion yourself. Give a few seconds and then carry on with the game. Your child feels upset....that is really okay. Accept it.
7. Do not give in to the temptation to allow the child to win every time. This will compound the issues. Allow the game to decide.
8. If the child becomes upset because s/he has not won, do not say s/he has lost. Say s/he has come second or third or fourth and allow her/him to feel upset. They cannot do away with the feeling. If you try to dissuade them from the feeling they will feel bad about themselves. And you don't want that. Just accept that that is how they feel, and the feeling will dissolve if acceptance takes place. Show acceptance in whatever way is relevant to the child.....words, staying beside them, cuddle.
It is rather a complex business learning to use scissors. Children often use 2 hands at first.....scissors have 2 handles afterall!
However, firstly a child needs to learn to pick the scissors up and organise their fingers and grip. It's useful to place the scissors flat on the table with the small hole towards the child, so that the shape of their right hand naturally leads them to put their thumb in the small hole and other fingers in the other hole. Its best if the other hole is large enough for 2 fingers. (index and middle). If it is a one finger hole then the middle finger needs to go in, and the index finger needs to be positioned forward of the hole. This gives the best stability and control.
So the child has hold of the scissors. With their thumb uppermost. It's great to present a strip of paper holding it for the child, because then the magic can happen. The child can do one close of the scissors and cut right across so that a piece of paper falls off. This is the magic motivator. If the scissors are spring-loaded, then it is even easier. The first step is learning to close the scissors to cut and this situation creates success. After a bit of practise, the child will probably want to hold the paper with the other hand.
Using scissors means some motor planning and sequencing is needed. After closing, the scissors need to open so another cut can be made. Some children may quickly pick this up. Others really benefit from spring-loaded scissors.
A strip of light cardboard can lead to the child being able to apply a bit of pressure, and the learning that different materials require a different amount of pressure. Cutting straws is fun because pieces bing away, and require even more pressure which strengthens the muscles in the hand.
Further development involves learning to open and close while cutting across paper or light card. Just after the open a tiny draw back is needed to reposition the scissors for the next cut. Learning to stop at a point requires some finesse, as the end point cannot usually be seen when nearing the end. Do you snip with the point of the scissors on the end point, or do you cut nearer the inside of the blades for more control. Following a line requires judgement and alignment.
And then the big thing is turning the paper with the other hand so that a curve or a corner can be cut. There is a lot of co-ordination between the 2 hands going on.
Using scissors requires planning, organising and coordination. When observing children learning to use scissors, it can be seen just how much integration of many steps is going on. Do make sure that the scissors are sharp enough to cut. It's frustrating when the paper just folds between the blades!!! Not encouraging at all.
Some children carry on forming letters incorrectly for some years. How come? Maybe because the beady eye of the classroom teacher has not managed to actually see the child form each letter. And somehow the child has escaped the teaching that would have taken place. By escaped, I mean that they had a go, couldn't do it correctly, made up their own version and somehow continued to print their own version.
Some children find learning to form letters difficult. Some children may have difficulty with motor planning, with organising their fine motor movements and with remembering the movements. It can be very confusing for a child who doesn't learn from the visual model. Some children find certain capital letters easier to form, such as capital E which has straight lines only, and they may continue to use capital E's even within other small letters. Some children have difficulty forming letters that require changing direction, such a lower case e. As well, there are many other factors to learn........... where to start( different for different letters), direction to go, pressure to use, where to stop, how to plan ahead so the letter sits on the line. Some children put the speed on and sometimes this works, as the brain just does it without them consciously having control.
Young children often experiment with printing when they try to copy people around them, and this is to be encouraged. But when they are seriously interested then please teach them the correct formation. It's a kindness to them, because once they have practised it over and over the incorrect way, it can be difficult to unlearn. And then there is the question of capital or lower case? Many signs around town are in capitals. However, when using printing in useful ways......writing stories, writing letters, writing notes, etc, we use lower case letters with capitals in the appropriate place. So maybe it's like learning two languages.....teach both at the same time.
Some children do not learn from seeing the finished model, or from seeing the letter being formed. They may benefit from you holding their hand as they print it until they remember the motor plan. And it can be confusing to try and learn the motor plan of different letters one after the other. So practise one letter repeatedly for a while.
Some parents find themselves trying to work out whether their child is not hearing or just not listening. Because............. the child does not stop when they are called, or does not do what s/he has been told to do. Or does not in some way, indicate that s/he has heard.
But there are other factors that come into play.
Ask questions such as:
Are they concentrating so much that they shut out all other sounds?
Are they focused on what they are about to do? I.e. the plan in their head.
Do they experience a delay in processing the auditory information?
Do they have a strong need to follow their own internal agenda and lack the ability to quickly change?
Do they have an emotional need that affects their ability to process incoming auditory information?
Is the short term or working memory such that they forget immediately?
Is you child super sensitive to some particular sounds?
In a general way you already know whether your child is hearing. You will have noticed whether s/he turns towards sounds. You will have noticed whether they ask "what's that?" when a sound is heard.
You will have noticed whether they respond to music in any way. You will have noticed whether they answer you in different situations.....such as face to face conversations when the attention of both of you is focussed on the other.
So if they can hear, then the issue may be one of the other possibilities.
A delay in processing auditory information can be variable which makes it difficult to recognise. The delay may be a second or longer or of different lengths of time at different times. Personally I sometimes experience a delay. For me it is like this.....Someone says something to me and all I hear is a jumble of sounds. On occasion, by the time i say "pardon" I have got the words. And sometimes I really do need the words to be repeated. If you suspect that your child has an auditory processing delay, give them time. Wait quietly and patiently with your attention lightly focussed on them so you can observe when they click.
Do not repeat the sentence in different words. Often as adults, we do this. Perhaps we think it will help the understanding if we say the instruction again in different words. But for a child with delayed processing this compounds the issues because now they have another set of words to process. Wait for a few seconds and then repeat using the same words.
For some children, their auditory memory does not work well. We have strengths in different information systems and your child may be stronger in the visual system than the auditory. And of course, verbal information is gone the moment it is said. It relies on a quick auditory memory for the child to be able to follow an instruction said once. Repeating the instruction can be helpful. Using visual prompts can be really helpful. Even drawing a plan on a piece of paper. The act of drawing and talking it through, will give your child time to process the auditory information at the same time as giving him/her the visual information. Visual information can be referred to again and again as needed.
If a child is concentrating solidly on a task or game, find a technique that you can use that gains their attention gently. Maybe discuss it with them, that you will use a signal. Like a classroom teacher doing her pattern of clapping!
According to how your child's brain is wired, they may quite strongly follow their own plan and find it difficult to change from their plan to someone else's plan. Therefore they need a warning or preparation about changes.....a signal needs to be given, and time for the child to unwind from their plan. A visual plan is helpful if possible. Their plan might even involve a toy that another child has in their hands. So strife can easily arise.
If a child is having a time of major life change, or major steps (e.g. starting school, shifting house) their ability to process auditory information can be affected. They may be putting unconscious effort into whatever they are doing which means they have less capacity for listening and taking on board other instructions.
There may be a difference in how your child integrates the auditory information. S/he may be super sensitive to some sounds. This can create anxiety about all sounds, and induce a fear of certain sound making things. This can also mean that the ability to integrate auditory information is uneven....i.e. some sounds are heard as very loud and other sounds are heard very soft or not at all.
So there are many factors affecting why your child is not responding to verbal instructions or not listening to you.