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Gross Motor Skills; how do they help handwriting?

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

As my children are getting older, now 4 and 6, their personalities are very strong and it is clear what each of their strengths and weaknesses are. One prefers reading and creating things, the other prefers to ride a bike and climb trees. It's good to acknowledge your child's preferences for certain activities, but sometimes it does do them good to give them a little nudge to step outside their comfort zone.

Both of my children seem to favour activities that focus on using either fine or gross motor but rarely the two together. This has meant that my son, who favours the lego and reading, has poor gross motor skills - meaning the bigger muscles for posture and stamina. And my daughter, who prefers running, jumping and climbing trees, finds it hard or evens hates to hold a pencil. What we need is a combination of the two.

A rare occasion when my son would climb

"Efficient control of the larger muscle groups in the neck, shoulder and trunk is necessary to maintain stability in order for the fingers and hands to move to complete the handwriting task"

The larger muscles (gross motor) in your arms and shoulder gives the movement, control and stability needed to write legibly. Then the smaller muscles (fine motor) are for the precision. Without one or the other it means handwriting can be messy or become hard work and then the child will tire quickly.

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

I did not realise this all those years ago, when my son skipped crawling altogether, didn't have the stamina to walk anywhere for more than ten minutes or the strength to sit correctly. I just put it down to laziness and didn't really push it any further. Now I know better!

This was one aspect that inspired us at Organic Learning Hub to create our Funky Fingers sessions. Activities like our upper body workout, slalom racing and bean bag toss help strengthen the larger upper body and core muscles. Whilst our lacing cards, brick building and magnetic letter boards help with the precision for letter formation.

So don't be afraid to encourage children to try things out of their comfort zone; it could impact on them more greatly than you think.

By Carly Lawrence

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