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iPad generation's fingers not ready to write, teachers say

Discussion in 'Personal' started by monicabilongame, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter


    Kindergarten and early primary teachers have aired their concerns that the rise of touchscreen devices means more children are starting school not ready to learn handwriting.

    A primary school teacher, Carolyn said she and her colleagues had noticed "a big decline in fine motor skills" among children arriving at prep and kindergarten.

    Carolyn and her colleagues blamed their young students' declining dexterity on their use of touchscreen devices such as tablets and smartphones.

    "Children are holding crayons and scissors less and making fewer things with their hands," she said.

    "We've noticed that sometimes, even if you pass a pencil or a paintbrush to a child, they're not quite sure how to receive it and how to hold it."

    Paediatric occupational therapist Lisa Clark said Carolyn was not the only teacher who had noticed the trend.

    "In my role I work in schools for most of the week, and we interact with teachers a lot, so these discussions are something we have all the time," she told ABC Radio Melbourne's Hilary Harper.

    "Both kinder teachers and also early primary teachers are feeding back to us about children's handwriting and the concerns that they have."

    Ms Clark said that in general children spend less time than they used to involved in "messy play" such as modelling with playdough or being crafty with scissors and glue.

    "Children in families are in households where there's a lot of electronic devices, from iPhones to iPads and computers, so we know that that's another option for children," she said.

    She said children who spent too much time on touchscreens did not develop the fine motor skills they needed when it came time to learn to write.

    "We are seeing a lot of children come into our practice who are having difficulties with motor skills," she said.

    It's not just handwriting, either. Ms Clark said many children had difficulty holding scissors, tying shoelaces or even using cutlery.
  2. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    The issues are true enough, but I would question their newness and the attributed cause. Our pre-school teachers explained their assessment tests based around those things and how a fairish proportion of children had issues with them - that was about 12 years ago. I suppose it might be different in Australia or even in this instance, a localised thing in the area where the two people named work?

    It’s interesting though; I wonder if there has been any reliable research done on the subject.
  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    A large part of the problem is not electronic devices per se but that parents are busy and not there, or are on their own phones, and children just don't get the opportunity to do messy things. But do they not have lego and bricks and crayons and so on?
  4. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    Now that nursery children are routinely assessed in a tick box fashion and there isn't a specific box to tick for young scissors I used to find, as a Reception teacher, many children hadn't learned this skill before starting school. It was always a priority of mine, tick box or not.

    Children of this age don't often wear shoes with laces nowadays so, I suppose, they font get taught this skill either and sadly many families only eat finger foods like pizza or children eat using a spoon.

    There's more than one reason for the lack of manipulative skill not just ipad use.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Sorry, I don't mean to make light of the topic, but whenever reports like this come out I always think of this:
    and it makes me chuckle.
  6. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    Oh, that takes me back (not quite as far back as 1815, though). We had slates as well as little blackboards when I was in P1. The slate and slate pencil made a much neater job but we only got to use them for a little while (we used the little blackboards for longer). I don’t know where the slates came from but it was a very old school and they were probably very old as well.

    If the principal above had thought to buy slate pencils there wouldn’t have been a chalk dust problem. Cheapskate!
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    My theory is that if Darwin is correct there will be an evolutionary advantage for people born with thin pointy fingers who can type on small screens and the rest of us with fat fingers will soon become extinct.

    I wonder if that is genuine? It feels a bit like something that has been made up more recently, but maybe it's what it's claimed.
  8. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    My current year 7 class have appalling handwriting. Many of them simply have no idea how to hold a pen. There was a major upset in the first week when I insisted they write in black ink as many of them told me " I don't have my pen licence Miss"
    Inkyp is right about other skills. When I have the dubious pleasure of duty in the canteen I see many of the pupils pick up food with their hands and shove it in their mouths. Not just what you might call finger food but items that need to be cut up with a knife and fork.
    peter12171 likes this.
  9. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I was an Early Years teacher, now I am retired I invigilate GCSEs etc and see some of the same children I taught in Nursery or Reception. I once noticed one girl, who I hadn't taught, really struggling with her writing and holding her pen in the most awkward way possible. So I looked round the hall checking out my ex pupils and was pleased to note that all them had a comfortable, efficient pen hold. It was always one of my priorities and if parents asked if it really mattered I would tell them it would matter very much in later years if they didn't develop good habits at the beginning. I am a dinosaur, though - if it can't be made into a target on the computerised assessment system it doesn't seem to matter now.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    It's not just about fine motor though, which the article fails to mention. It's also the support for the large gross motor movements that develop the shoulder and elbow. I put that down to lack of outdoor play, lack of play facilities, shorter play times, kids not doing things like climbing trees and using monkey bars.
    We must also remember that the Early learning goals for writing is assessed at a point when a third of children are not yet, or are barely 5, and in many countries would not even be in school yet. That plays a part too.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Writing? Yes, I'd far rather leave it until they're 6 or 7. Even 8.

    With any luck they'll actually want to do it by then. They'll see the teacher doing it and want to imitate that behaviour as it seems "grown up". Then they pick it up really fast.
    InkyP and agathamorse like this.
  12. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    I canot speak too much anout Early Years but by Primary year 3 many children strugle. I stil believed that good writing practice in the morning helped their writing skills,Always was a starter for me..and yes i did mark it and comment upon it either as they did the work or later..In other schools by Year 3 I found children writing in joined up script fluently.in one school using italics!
    A lot depends up the teachers and the schools.....but for early years it also need incorperating in thier learning sessions and activities(which it was in the numbers of nursery and early year placements I undertook on supply).
  13. ABCCBA123321

    ABCCBA123321 Occasional commenter

    Oh God is this in the news again? That'll be another round of judgemental muppets all over the internet wanting to condemn my lousy parenting because I've got a kid with low muscle tone and dyspraxia (despite me diligently doing everything "right"). Spent most of the summer holidays doing runs to occupational therapy appointments where the poor therapist was struggling because we had been doing everything we should have been doing and couldn't really suggest much more!

    My poor feet can vouch for the amount of flipping Lego in this house - I knelt on a Duplo brick at one point - one of those in the kneecap really seriously breaks the pain barrier.
  14. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    There seems to be a presumption on the part of whoever compiles these tick-boxes that we live in some sun-filled 50s time-warp where Mummy is at home all day doing "her job" of getting the children school-ready.

    It just so happens it was my choice to be that Mummy, plus my kids didn't start school until they were 5, so yes, they could read, write, add and subtract up to 100, use scissors, cook, paint Warhammer models and tie both ties and shoelaces (though their father taught them the last 3).
    They spent a year at school bored arseless.

    Times have changed. Both parents have to work but I do wonder why childminders and nurseries appear not to be picking up the slack. Or are they, and the study relates to children who are at home but have a parent who for whatever reason can't be bothered/ dislikes/thinks it the school's job to teach these things?
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Our home educated neighbours spend most of the day hanging out of trees and running about. They also have beautiful handwriting. There are four of them, so they don't get their mum's undivided attention, but they don't need it. They have everything they need and get on with using it and working out how to do things. None of them have broken any bones yet, or cut themselves because they're not supervised all the time. But most parents would freak at the level of independence they have. So most children, whose parents are too busy to watch them while they do 'dangerous' things just don't get to learn how to do lots of things.
    monicabilongame likes this.

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