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Poor Motor Control

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by kaz_allan, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Has anyone noticed a marked decline in motor control this year? Our children have come in verbally and orally able a pretty bright bunch all round but when it comes to holding a pencil or putting anything on paper the majority of the year group have no idea how to hold a pencil or paintbrush and make extremely large marks on paper. The drawings that they do are also very immature and still at the scribbling stage although a few are drawing a circle with two sticks for a person!
    I have not experienced such a poor year group in this way and am wondering if anyone has any advice - this year our Head has wants us to ensure that all the children achieve high in all aspects of EYFS and writing is the main focus. I am worried that mechanics of writing will be delayed due to the poor motor control.
    We are doing write dance weekly and obviously all the usual continuous provision gross and fine motor activities and have introduced specific hand gym boxes this week but I would like to do more to bring the motor control on and enable children to form letters and numbers to match their knowledge.
    Thanks all
     
  2. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Sorry not a teacher, but I always felt that pre-school provided very little in the way of proper writing, drawing and painting equipment. It's hard to do a decent drawing or painting with something the size of a cucumber. So what you equate to lack of fine motor skills might just have been lack of opportunity to use and practice working with the right tools, and maybe this group of children have had a bit of deficient pre-school experience rather than problems with their fine motor skill development.
    Also I found that what my children did in reception was not an indicator of their fine motor skills - if everyone else scribbled and squished so did they even though at home they had done detailed drawings and careful colouring for years. Anything I picked up from the take home tray at school looked like my children had regressed 3 years. Maybe to be sure that this lot do have poor fine motor skills you could ask for some artwork from home ....... I think you'll be able to spot what has been faked by the parents.
    I know children who have gone to school at the stage you are describing with their drawing, and not knowing any phonics or numbers, but have learned to read and write very proficiently to profile point 9. The content of drawing is not a measure of fine motor skills. Asking them to copy particular shapes would be a better indication of whether they have poor fine motor skills or not.
    Do other things indicate they have poor fine motor control - e.g. sewing, positioning nails prior to hammering, cutting, gluing, junk modelling? What are the proper tests of fine motor control you can use at school rather than guessing?


     
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Fine Motor Skills
    Things to remember:
    Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
    chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
    fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
    pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
    puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
    for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
    movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
    and shoulder muscles.
    Fine Motor Activities
    Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
    hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
    Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
    Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
    Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
    the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
    Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
    to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
    Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
    strength builder.
    Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
    (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
    "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
    when sprayed.)
    Primary
    Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
    "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
    small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
    Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
    between the palms.
    Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
    Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
    macaroni, etc.
    Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
    to make artistic designs on paper.
    Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
    construction paper to form pictures or designs.
    Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
    the edge of the table.
    Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
    Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
    fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
    happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
    Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
    cotton) on outlines
    Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
    outlines
    Primary
    Self-Care Skills
    Buttoning
    Lacing
    Tying
    Fastening Snaps
    Zipping
    Carrying
    Using a screwdriver
    Locking and unlocking a door
    Winding a clock
    Opening and closing jars
    Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
    Washing plastic dishes
    Primary
    Sweeping the floor
    Dressing
    Scissor Activities
    When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
    activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
    in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
    finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
    stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
    Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
    subscription cards.
    Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
    Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
    Cutting straws or shredded paper.
    Cutting
    Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
    A fringe from a piece of paper
    Cut off corners of a piece of paper
    Cut along curved lines
    Cut lines with a variety of angles
    Primary
    Cut figures with curves and angles
    Sensory Activities
    The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
    strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
    his/her hands.
    Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
    Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
    Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
    Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
    Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
    Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
    in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
    the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
    Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
    sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
    awareness in the hands.
    Midline Crossing
    Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
    activities will facilitate midline crossing:
    Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
    may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
    switching hands at midline.
    Primary
    Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
    for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
    presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
    Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
    through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
    imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
    When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
    across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.
     
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I use a Busy Finger Box in the classroom you candeasily find most things in the classroom or at home
    1. Pegs -
    You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
    They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.
    2. Elastic bands -
    Elastic gymnastics! - Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.
    3. Beads -
    Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.
    4. Ball bearings and tweezers -
    Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.
    5. Floam / Playdough -
    These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.
    6. Doodle board -
    The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.
    7. Gummed Shapes -
    Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.
    8. Hama Beads -
    Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.
    9. Lacing cards -
    Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.
    10. Bean bags -
    Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)
    11. Chalk and blackboard -
    If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
    Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.
    12. Stencils -
    Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.
    13. Feathers -
    Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.
    14. Handhugger pens -
    Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.
    15. Tissue paper strips -
    Place the child's palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
    Repeat, but this time place the side of the child's hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
    These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.
    16. Stickers -
    Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.
    17. Peg boards -
    These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
    They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

     
  5. Thank you, we have most of these activities running at the moment and hand gym boxes too - I agree that I think they have had a lack of opportunity to pick up pencils and paintbrushes at pre-school and copy anything as this is frowned upon. Our attached nursery is completely free and children only ever do what they want to so i guess if they choose not to pick up a pencil then they will have no experience. I just hope we can resolve this sooner rather than later.
    thanks for your help, much appreciated.
     
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    In pre school I would be looking for children developing shoulder girdle and wrist strength rather than worrying about pencils. They need to be working on vertical chalk boards or paperfastened to a vertical surface. Sweeping brushes and cleaning windows brushes and pens attatched to a long cane ...most children struggle with fine motor activities because of gross motor development problems
     
  7. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Pre-school meaning what?
    Mystery, your experience is very limited if you think cucumber-sized implements are all that children use in nurseries and the FS.
    I see that Msz has re-posted her wonderful list - a list, I'm proud to say, that I have distributed in whole or in part to many teachers and parents since I first saw it.
    By the way, there is a boy in our reception class who has no strength in his hands at all. He has no PUSH.


     
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I have one in Y2 this year so we are doing lots of dough work
     
  9. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Msz's list of activities looks fab. It was a touch of exaggeration when I mentioned the crayons and pencils the size of a cucumber!! What I was trying to say was that before you decide a whole cohort of children has underdeveloped fine motor skills purely by looking at whether they can do detailed drawings or hold a normal pencil nicely you need to scratch the surface a bit!
    Sure my experience of pre-school settings is limited ( school nursery classes, part-time pre-schools in the private and voluntary sector, and full daycare nurseries) but over a lifetime I have observed for a reasonable period of time in about 20 of them for various reasons including as a potential consumer ....... possibly a higher number than your average worker with the under fives.
    And I do think a good setting would be providing all the kind of things that Msz is suggesting ...... but still it's unlikely that there is some kind of neurological disorder in the whole of the new cohort which has resulted in poorer fine motor skills.
    Of course maybe if they happen to be a particularly young year group this could make a huge difference relative to previous years at the same school.

     
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    actually it is a nationally recognised problem that children are arriving in nursery /reception classes with poor physical development often attributed to lifestyle ... baby walkers ...riding strapped into a car seat or a buggy rather than walking ... opportunities for physical play ... etc. etc etc
     
  11. So true Msz. I read an article about this and it went on to say that babies need to crawl/explore on the floor with all their limbs and this exploring strengthens their muscles especially their shoulders.
    I'm still seeing reception children in buggies!!
     
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Think you have been reading the Daily Mail a litttle too much. Sure the nation is less fit than it maybe was decades ago, and certainly fatter, but I don't think there is a recognised decline in fine motor development nationally on entry to reception.
    The vast majority of pre-schoolers use up their free 15 hours per week (upped from 12 hours per week) in a pre-school setting of some sort. If they are all doing the kind of wonderful things that you all describe take place in pre-school settings then they should be turning up at school with better fine motor skills than ever.
    Maybe a bit more fun with nice coloured pencils and finer paint brushes would reap some benefits in the two years before reception and a bit less of the stuff that only the most brilliant artist could get a decent result with. At our school the art materials are pretty sad as the budget is so stretched (or negative). My children have always produced decent stuff at home and things at nursery and school that if I didn't know any better would make me think they had little control of their thoughts, arms, hands or fingers!
    Their letter and number formation did not improve in nursery or reception because most of the staff had some mistaken belief that they were not allowed to teach them this kind of thing unless they came up begging in a loud voice "please miss, teach us to form our letters correctly today". There was one member of staff in the nursery who enjoyed teaching such things, and was great at doing so, but she only dared do it on days when the manager was away as she would not allow it.
    So who knows with the particular set of children mentioned by the OP whether there is some deficit, or purely a lack of practice which will be very quickly made up for by good reception teaching. If I were them I certainly would not be making judgements about whether to lower expectations for the end of reception as a consequence.
     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I think you need to spend some time with some developmental Occupational Therapists
     
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I also recommend reading the work of Dr Madeleine Portwood on the subject
     
  15. :D
     
  16. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    [​IMG]
    No-one will unstrap me from my buggy to let me do so.
     
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Obviously or you would be better informed they seem to release you to post on TES [​IMG]
     
  18. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I can do that with the ipad they put in the nappy bag in the shopping basket under the buggy.
     
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The straps can't be tight enough
     
  20. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Believe me they are really tight, my Mum can only just get them round me, but my arms do trail along the ground so I find it quite easy to fish things out of the shopping carrier underneath. I keep on asking her to buy the TES but all I find in there are pull-ups, the ipad and a copy of the Daily Mail.
     

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