Tired of hearing about the importance of core strength?! I get it! But... a strong core is one of the MOST important factors in handwriting development and progression. Actually, a strong core is essential for most everything our children do, from learning to walk as a baby to learning cartwheels as a preschooler. Even as we grow older, our core strength continues to be vital as a solid core helps prevent falls and decreases back pain. Our belly and back muscles as well as shoulders and hips are vital to posture and stability throughout the lifespan.
So how do we help our child build up their core muscles? Well, we have quite an extensive list for you! These activities are easy, fun, and help give your child that solid foundation for handwriting. And you can make them more or less challenging depending on your child’s age.
-Climbing- Encourage tree climbing, climbing at the playground, climbing over couch forts (sorry!), and more. Climbing requires both sides of the body to engage and uses belly and back muscles to pull the body against gravity.
-Crawling- No matter the age, children love crawling through a tunnel, crawling over obstacles, and doing animal walks (bear walk, crab walk). Crawling on hands and knees or hands and feet strengthens the core muscles as well as the shoulder muscles. Holding our body weight through our hands builds up hand and wrist strength as well.
-Scooter-board- Remember these from grade school?! It turns out these are great for core and upper body strengthening. Have your child ride on their tummy, propelling themselves with their hands or you can pull them with a hula hoop or rope.
-Extracurriculars- Sign your child up for gymnastics, ninja classes, swimming, taekwondo, or other activities where they have even more opportunities to strengthen their belly and back muscles.
-Sitting- Yes you read that right. Rather than lounging on the couch while watching tv or iPad, have your child sit on a basketball or yoga ball, sit long-leg against a wall, or sit crisscross applesauce on the floor. The more opportunities to engage the core muscles, the stronger they will be.
-Heavy work- Get your child to help you with chores (winning!). Have your child carry or push/pull a load of laundry, sweep and mop the floor, or rake the leaves outside. All of these activities require use of belly, back, and shoulder muscles. Kids love to feel like they are doing “grown-up” jobs, and if not, offer an incentive!
-Yoga- So many options here… from kid's yoga videos on YouTube, to yoga card decks - choose whichever engages your child. Yoga poses do more than strengthen the core, yoga also strengthens both large and small muscle groups, encourages coordination of both sides of the body, and improves balance and focus.
These are just a starting point for helping your child engage and strengthen their core for handwriting. To see the greatest benefits, try to make these activities a part of your daily routine and have fun with it! And yes, children, just like adults, will try to take the easy, less resistive way… particularly if they have a weak core (slouch during sitting, avoiding difficult climbs or yoga poses). But continue to encourage your child with positive feedback and make it fun so that they gain confidence while getting stronger. As the core becomes stronger, you will see results with handwriting and likely other fine motor skills. Because stability (strong core) always promotes mobility (smooth finger movements for handwriting).
At Handwriting Solutions, we always begin our tutoring sessions with a 5-minute gross motor warm up to get the body ready to write. Any questions? Email email@example.com.