Sometimes “seeing is believing.”

Sometimes “seeing is believing.”

By Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

There have been some very heartwarming stories

that have come from my career as a pediatric occupational therapist. Some of the key players in my work have grown up to become adults working in their communities or high school and college students, while others are continuing to work on their elementary school successes. And all of them are doing their very best at what they can do. But no matter where they are right now, every one of them still remains a treasure in my memories. There are some stories, however, that touch my heart in a way that I can hardly express in words. Those are the times that created a dramatic change in both the child and myself.

Our last blog post was an article by The Vision Rehab OT that discussed the importance of providing children with vision eye exams. Keeping that theme in mind, I’d like to share a guest blog I wrote for Dr. Anne Zachry, Ph.D., OTR/L, over at the Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips blog, as part of a special series she hosted in honor of OT month. After you read it, I’m sure there will be tears in your eyes, too.

It’s The Little Things That Make Life Big: “See those pictures, mommy?”

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my work!

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.com

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Another look at Eye-Care Professionals

Vision skills are essential foundations for literacy, as well as the mastery of play and life skills.  Early detection of vision problems can set the stage for enhanced learning potential and the discovery of life-threatening diseases.  There are different types of eye-care professionals, each committed to a particular facet of vision skills.  It is important to understand the roles they each play in your child’s overall eye health.

One of my most popular blogs describes the roles of eye-care professionals, as well as important information about vision skills.  I share it here with you again as a resource for parents, teachers, and therapists.  Just click on those beautiful eyes to read it!

A Vision and Eye-Care Professional Primer for Occupational Therapists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures that are marked the property of the author must provide a link back to this article or her website. All others must provide a link to the originating source.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

 

A Vision and Eye-Care Professional Primer for Occupational Therapists

A Vision and Eye-Care Professional Primer for Occupational Therapists

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

 

Vision Facts to Guide Assessment and Treatment:

childs eyes - aroni- by Bessi pixabay

The visual sense is the primary way in which we understand what we see.  It is “our most far-reaching sense” and the one through which we obtain 75-85 percent of what we learn about ourselves and the world around us.  (1, p. 3)   Vision as a term is most often confused with that of eyesight.  However, the terms are not interchangeable.

 

Eyesight consists of our level of visual acuity and our ability to recognize contrasts.  It is a measure of our distance vision and does not effectively determine the efficiency of our near vision skills.  It is also an indicator of eye health.

 

Vision is comprised of 17 skills, one of which is eyesight.  (2)  The measure of 20/20 eyesight and a healthy medical condition of the eyes does not entail the complexity of the visual system.  “In addition to clear vision, an individual must have the ability to use his or her eyes for extended periods of time without discomfort, be able to analyze and interpret the incoming information, and be able to respond to what is being seen.”   (1, p. 6)

 

Visual Brain Journey thru the cortex
The Visual Brain

Vision does not occur in the eyes but in the brain.  The eyes are actually a part of the brain and act as the sensory receptors that collect light and transmit it to the visual brain (3) to “form a model of our world, to identify objects and events, to attach meaning and significance to them, and to establish their causal relations” for the ultimate production of adaptive behavior.   The visual brain is influenced by the brain’s visual pathways and includes the vision that is used for action and that which is utilized for perception. (4)  Neurons devoted to visual processing in the brain account for about 30 percent of the cortex with millions of optic nerve fibers carrying information from the retina to these areas.  In contrast, touch and hearing are represented by 8 and 3 percent of the brain’s cortex, respectively, with each auditory nerve carrying 30,000 signals.  (5)

 

Models of vision have been developed that emphasize vision as a learned process and one that organizes and manipulates space.   It is the sensory system through which we understand the information collected through our other senses.  It a movement pattern and is developed through the use of our motor skills, much like walking and talking.   Vision provides the brain with accurate translation of the information collected through our eyesight.  (1, p. 6)   Therefore, vision plays a key role in learning and can influence the quality of learning through visual efficiency and visual information processing.  Visual efficiency comprises the process of visual acuity and refractive error, accommodation, vergence, and ocular motility.  Visual information Processing involves the higher level brain functions that include the non-motor aspects of visual perception and cognition, and their integration with motor, auditory, language, and attention systems. Deficits in either of these aspects of vision can result in some form of learning problem.  Proper diagnosis of learning related vision problems therefore requires comprehensive evaluation of visual efficiency and visual information processing skills.  (6)

 

vision assessment schedule by hooptometristUndetected vision problems can affect a child’s ability to learn in school by interfering with his ability to see clearly, interpret what he sees, and use his eyes to guide movement.   Although vision screenings are performed by pediatricians and school nurses, their tests are designed to assess for visual acuity and do not reflect how well the eyes focus up close, track, or work together.  Occupational therapists are in a key position to detect the common signs and symptoms that indicate a potential vision problem in these areas and that may be the cause of a reading, learning, or motor performance need.  An efficient OT evaluation will include a vision screening that checks visual acuity, eye teaming, eye movement control, and visual motor integration.  Therefore, it is important to understand and recognize the five most common symptoms that can identify a person is in need of a vision assessment by a developmental optometrist.

 

  • Frequent loss of place when reading
  • Slopping handwriting
  • Eye fatigue or headaches after reading
  • Avoidance of close work
  • Attention problems (7)

 

In addition, it is important for occupational therapists to inform parents and teachers about the importance of early detection of vision-related problems by sharing visual behavior checklists (8) and resources about vision assessments (9) and vision therapy (2).   Equally as important as recognizing early symptoms and sharing information about visual problems, occupational therapists should have a solid understanding about the areas of expertise for those professionals who specialize in eye care.

 

Eye-Care Professionals Guide

Maintaining eye and vision health relies upon regularly scheduled assessments that can alert us and our doctors to the presence of eye diseases and vision disorders.  The early detection of these conditions depends upon the selection of the appropriate eye-care professional to address these specialized areas.  There are four areas of expertise and levels of training that define the providers that address eye and vision health.  (The following was adapted from References 10, 11, and 12.)

 

  • Ophthalmologists (MD) are medical or osteopathic doctors who have completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training. They are licensed to practice medicine and surgery and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease.  Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.  In general, they use medical and surgical methods to treat eyes diseases and vision disorders.
  • Optometrists (OD) are Doctors of Optometry and the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists complete a pre-professional undergraduate education at a college or university followed by four years of professional education at a college of optometry.  Following graduation, optometrists have the option to complete a one-year residency for additional training in a specific area of practice.  They are licensed to examine, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures.  They are trained to perform eye exams, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect certain eye abnormalities, and prescribe mediation for certain eye diseases.
  • Developmental Optometrists (FCOVD) provide vision care based on the principle that vision can be developed and changed. They are health care professionals who obtain board certification from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) to provide specialized services in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy, and vision rehabilitations.  Developmental Optometrists specialize in the treatment of functional vision problems, including difficulties with binocular vision, eye movements, and depth perception, as well as visual deficits following brain injuries and are skilled in the use of lenses, prisms, and optometric vision therapy.   They perform functional vision tests to determine underlying vision deficits.
  • Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify, and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other eyesight correction devices. They provide services through prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists.

 

A downloadable version of this resource is available at the Handwriting is Fun! Resource Page.

 

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists,  she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine

 

 

 

 

 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
Photos are the property of the photographers at Pixabay or authors on specific online sites.  Their use should include the link provided with the pictures.
References:
  1. Scheiman, Mitchell. Understanding and Managing Vision Deficits a Guide for Occupational Therapists. 3rd ed. Thorofare, NJ: Slack, 2011. Print.
  2. “Vital Visual Skills -.” COVD.org. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.covd.org/?page=Visual_Skills>.
  3. Hubel, David H. “Eye, Brain, and Vision.” Eye, Brain, and Vision. David Hubel, n.d. Web. 24 June 2015. <http://hubel.med.harvard.edu/book/b8.htm>. Text Publication: Henry Holt and Company, May 15, 1995
  4. Milner, A.. David, and Melvyn A. Goodall. “The Visual Brain in Action.” Assc.org. The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.theassc.org/files/assc/2367.pdf>.
  5. Grady, Denise. “The Vision Thing: Mainly in the Brain.” Discover Magazine. Discover Magazine, 01 June 1993. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://discovermagazine.com/1993/jun/thevisionthingma227>.
  6. Garcia, Ralph P., O.D., Steven B. Nicholson, O.D., Leonard J. Press, O.D., Mitchell M. Scheiman, O.D., and Harold A. Solan, O.D. “Optometric Management of Learning-Related Vision Problems, 2nd Edition.” Clin Exp Optometry Clinical and Experimental Optometry 89.6 (2006): 403-04. Aha.org. American Optometric Association, 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.aoa.org/documents/optometrists/CPG-20.pdf>.
  7. Hong, Carole L., OD, FCOVD. “Vision Screenings & When to Refer for a Developmental Vision Evaluation: What Every OTR Should Know.” PediaStaff. PediaStaff, Inc., 26 May 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/qa-ask-the-expert-vision-screenings-when-to-refer-for-a-developmental-vision-evaluation-what-every-otr-should-know-3592>.
  8. Collmer, Katherine J., M. Ed., OTR/L. “Resources for Handwriting/Writing Development.” Handwriting With Katherine. Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.handwritingwithkatherine.com/resources.html>.
  9. “InfantSEE: A Public Health Program for Infants | Helping Infants to Establish a Lifetime of Healthy Vision.” InfantSEE. Optometry Cares – The American Optometric Association, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.infantsee.org/>. InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life.
  10. Mischio, Greg. “What’s the Difference between Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist?” Vision Therapy Center. Vision Therapy Center, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.thevisiontherapycenter.com/discovering-vision-therapy/bid/75509/What-s-the-difference-between-optometrist-vs-ophthalmologist>.
  11. “Difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician.” Difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician — AAPOS. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/132>.
  12. “About COVD.” COVD. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://www.covd.org/?page=About_Us>.

 

 

 

 

5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers Revisited

5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers Revisited

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

On June 16, 2015, I posted the original version of this blog, titled “Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers.”  (Don’t click yet, but you can find it here.)  Today, I am reposting it in a different format in an attempt to gather information about your reading preferences and learning styles.  The “Handwriting is Fun! Blog” runs for one purpose:  to share information.  If the information we share, however, does not meet your learning and reading needs, then we haven’t achieved our goal to provide our readers with pertinent and helpful information about handwriting development skills.

So, in the interest of bettering our blog and achieving our highest goals, I am asking you to read the first version (not yet!) and then to read this revised format.  After you have done that, I would be honored and thankful if you would share two pieces of information with me in the comment section of THIS BLOG VERSION:

  1. Which version did you prefer?
  2. Why did that version appeal to you?

Thank you in advance for participating in this informal research study!  I look forward to your feedback!  NOW YOU CAN CLICK ON THE FIRST VERSION!  (Don’t forget to return here to read the revised version!)

 

Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

This month, I am sharing a “Summer Handwriting Fun” series chock-full of articles written by myself and other therapy bloggers who have so graciously offered to share their work on my site.  This is the third in our series.  I hope you will find it useful and return to read some more next week!

 

What do we need before we get “good” at handwriting?

Alphabet Written on NotepadHandwriting mastery is actually based upon 5 basic handwriting helper skills.  They are:

  1. Body Awareness;
  2. Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength;
  3. Vision and Sensory Skills;
  4. Posture; and
  5. Practice.

 

 

Although these five helpers are very important skills in handwriting development, they are not too be taken too seriously.  They can be developed during most play experiences all along a child’s developmental stages.  Today, we are going to take a look at the ways that we can engage our elementary school-aged “handwriters” in some “Summer Fun” that works on these skills!

 

The Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers!

  1. Body Awareness

This helper is

  • our “internal map” that lets us know where all of our body parts are – without our having to look at them to find out!
  • how we understand directional concepts, like up and down, left and right.
  • what gives us a perspective about navigating our environment.
  • the foundation that provides a child with the basic skills for learning letter formations, spacing, and fitting words and sentences on a line and a page.

 

Body Awareness can be developed through activities such as:

Yoga helps us with our body awareness!
Yoga helps us with our body awareness!

 

+  balance and coordination,

+  concentration, and

+  visual attention skills.

 

 

 

+  make left and right turns,

+  look up,

+  check on top or behind, and

+  look under.

 

Watch a cool movement video from The PE Update Blog!
Watch a cool movement video from The PE Update Blog!

  • Relay races, tug-of-war, musical chairs, or simply rolling down a hill provides children with opportunities to

+  use the left and right sides of their bodies,

+  manage their weight against gravity, and

+  determine the distance between themselves and other people or objects.

Skateboarding and roller skating will definitely do the trick!

 

 

 2.  Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength

This helper provides the foundation for

  • efficient pencil control skills, and
  • the ability to write for sustained periods of time with legibility and speed.

 

Fine-motor strengthening can be developed through activities such as:

 

  • Spending time on the playground.   Playground equipment offers children opportunities to use their fingers, hands, and wrists to

 

Playgrounds build both gross- and fine-motor skills!
Playgrounds build both gross- and fine-motor skills!

+  push,

+  pull,

+  grab ahold, and

+  hold on.

And, as an added bonus, playgrounds also help to build gross motor strength for posture!

 

 

 

+  use their two hands together for precision work;

+  manipulate different tools and textures; and

+  use their fingers, hands, and wrists for sustained periods of fine motor activity;

Art also allows older children to enhance their fine-motor strength as they develop their creativity and visual perceptual skills.

 

 

  • Gardening projects such as potted or plotted gardens for herbs, vegetables, or flowers, allow children to use their hands to

 

+  dig in the soil,vegetables-condesign-pixabay

+  plant seeds, and

+  pull weeds,

while they experience a sense of joy and accomplishment and build self-esteem.

Sewing, woodworking, and building model airplanes also work well for that!

 

 

3.  Vision and Sensory Skills

These helpers are those that allow children

 

They also provide children with an understanding of their environment through their senses of

  • sight,
  • hearing,
  • touch,
  • taste, and
  • smell.

 

Vision and Sensory Skills can be developed through activities such as:

  • board game dantetg pixabayBoard Games.  They offer opportunities for children of all ages to

+  maintain eye contact,

+  focus with near vision, and

+  use eye movements to follow the game.

If you add a bit of mystery, let’s say by hiding the pieces of a word game in a plastic bin filled with sand, then you are working on the sense of touch at the same time!

 

 

  • Music and dancing activities that ask children to learn new motor planning sequences, or practice previously learned routines, provide sight, hearing, and tactile experiences through dance-alexas fotos pixabay

+  movement and

+  imitation.

 

 

 

 

  • magic-cube-domenicblair pixabayPuzzles, both of the magic cube and interlocking type, provide visual skill enhancement as they demand

        +  visual attention,

        +  efficient scanning techniques, and

        +  visual perceptual skills to complete them.

 

 

4.  Posture

This helper allows children to learn using efficient

 

Postural skills can be developed through activities such as:

  • Walking, climbing, hiking, and biking, as well as exercises such wheelbarrow walks and races.  These activities enhance a child’shiking family-pezibear pixabay

+  Core Body Muscles

+  balance, and

+  coordination.

 

 

 

  • Sports enhance both vision and postural muscles!
    Sports enhance both vision and postural muscles!

    Sports that include visual attention skills, such as ball challenges for the younger children, or bike riding or skateboarding through an obstacle course for the older ones, provide opportunities for

 

        +  building core body muscles and

         +  vision skills.

 

Vision and Posture are developmental partners:  Vision skills enhance the development of the core body muscles – and the core body muscles enhance the development of vision skills.

 

 

+  understand what “posture” is,

+  develop good postural habits, and

+  appreciate the importance of having good posture.

 

 

5. Practice

This helper allows children to

  • master their handwriting skills and
  • understand and appreciate their functional use.

 

Functional Practice of handwriting skills can be accomplished through activities such as:

 

 

 

 

 

To-Do-List_PrintableMaking lists for groceries, to-do’s, and people to invite to their birthday party.

 

 

 

 

trip maps

Recording their creative thoughts or journey experiences using writing prompts or travel journals.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope I’ve shared some different and exciting ideas for including the 5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers in your child’s Summer Fun!

As always, thanks for reading!  And I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/LKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
 

Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers

Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

This month, I am sharing a “Summer Handwriting Fun” series chock-full of articles written by myself and other therapy bloggers who have so graciously offered to share their work on my site.  This is the next in our series.  I hope you will find it useful and return to read some more next week!

 

What do we need before we get “good” at handwriting?

Alphabet Written on NotepadHandwriting mastery is actually based upon 5 basic handwriting helper skills.  They are:

 

  1. Body Awareness;
  2. Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength;
  3. Vision and Sensory Skills;
  4. Posture; and
  5. Practice.

 

Although these five helpers are very important skills in handwriting development, they are not too be taken too seriously.  They can be developed during most play experiences all along a child’s developmental stages.  Today, we are going to take a look at the ways that we can engage our elementary school-aged “handwriters” in some “Summer Fun” that works on these skills!

 

The Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers!

  1. Body Awareness

    What is body awareness?  It’s simply our “internal map” that lets us know where all of our body parts are – without our having to look at them to find out!  It helps us to understand directional concepts, like up and down, left and right, and gives us a perspective about navigating our environment.  All of this provides a child with the basic skills for learning letter formations, spacing, and fitting words and sentences on a line and a page.

 

What are some fun body awareness activities?

Yoga has been shown to develop balance and coordination, concentration, and visual attention in children, as well as adults.

Yoga helps us with our body awareness!
Yoga helps us with our body awareness!

A fun yoga session can be as simple as including two or three “special for kids” poses outside on the lawn, just before bed, or during a quiet time in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Treasure and Scavenger Hunts are excellent “follow directions” activities that encourage children to use their internal maps to locate and discover the hidden objects.  Be sure to provide written directions that ask them to

  • make left and right turns,
  • look up,
  • check on top or behind, and
  • look under.

 

Anything that produces movement enhances body awareness!

Watch a cool movement video from The PE Update Blog!
Watch a cool movement video from The PE Update Blog!

Relay races, tug-of-war, musical chairs, or simply rolling down a hill provide children with opportunities to use the left and right sides of their bodies, manage their weight against gravity, and determine the distance between themselves and other people or objects.  Skateboarding and roller skating will definitely do the trick!

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength

Why do we need this?  These three guys are vital components in efficient handwriting.  They provide children with pencil control and the ability to write for sustained periods of time with legibility and speed.

What are some fun fine-motor strengthening activities?

Art can enhance writing!
Art can enhance writing!

Art is simply the best way to introduce fine motor strengthening activities to children!    There are so many fun ways to develop these skills with sensory and creative components using simple paints, play dough, and putty.   Therapy Street for Kids offers a selection recipes for these supplies that I think you will find interesting, easy to make, and easy on the budget.

There’s even one for Pretzel Dough where you get the eat the final product!

 

 

Playgrounds build both gross- and fine-motor skills!
Playgrounds build both gross- and fine-motor skills!

The playground is an excellent place to build strength in the fingers, hands, and wrists.  Pushing, pulling, grabbing, and holding on are all fine-motor workouts.  And, as an added bonus, playgrounds also help to build gross motor strength for posture!

 

 

 

Gardening with children encourages lots and lots of fine-motor skill development.  Whether you choose potted or plotted gardens, herbs or

vegetables-condesign-pixabayvegetables, children can dig in and get their hands dirty as they work the soil, plant the seeds, and pull weeds!  The activity itself brings a sense of joy and accomplishment that builds self-esteem, too!  Sewing, woodworking, and building model airplanes also work well for that!

 

 

3.  Vision and Sensory Skills

 

Why do we need to worry about vision and sensory skills?

Efficient visual skills are essential toward the mastery of handwriting.  Seeing clearly, focusing effectively at near and far distances, and being able to remember what we see are necessary tools for learning and remembering letter formations. Since 75-90% of what a child learns in a classroom occurs though his vision, it is very important for us to care about his vision skills.    Sensory processing skills are those that allow us to experience and understand our environment through what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, as well as from how our bodies move.  Efficient sensory processing gives children the information they need to feel safe, learn without distraction, and remember what they’ve learned.

 

What are some fun vision and sensory processing activities?

board game dantetg pixabayJust about any Board Game will hit upon the visual skills.  They demand eye contact, focusing with near vision, and eye movement to follow the game.  If you add a bit of mystery, let’s say by hiding the pieces of a word game in a plastic bin filled with sand, then you are working on the sense of touch at the same time!

 

 

Music and dancing can work for just about any of these five nifty skills.  dance-alexas fotos pixabay

But the movement and imitation involved in learning a new dance enhances the senses of sight, hearing, and movement.

 

 

magic-cube-domenicblair pixabay

 

Puzzles, both of the magic cube and interlocking type, provide plenty of visual skill enhancement as they demand visual attention, efficient scanning techniques, and visual perceptual skills to complete them.

 

 

 

4.  Posture

Why should we care about posture?

Posture and head positioning play a big role in efficient handwriting.  We’ve all heard the commands “make sure your feet are flat on the floor” and “sit up straight.”  Appropriate table and chair heights are crucial to providing a child with the support he needs to maintain his head up, shoulders back and back straight.  But, if a child is experiencing difficulty keeping a good postural alignment despite having the correct measures in place, then chances are he has weak postural muscles.  But it can be so difficult at times to help children understand the importance of building those muscles and protecting their backs.  The Kids Health Network shares a “posture perfect poster” that helps us to explain this in a “kid-friendly” way.

 

What are some fun posture enhancing activities?

 

Attention paid to the Core Body Muscles is attention well spent!  Exercises, presented in activities such as wheelbarrow walks and races, are fun ways to encourage the strengthening of the postural muscles.  hiking family-pezibear pixabayClimbing, hiking, biking, and even just plain walking enhance balance and coordination while working on the legs, back, trunk, shoulders, and neck muscles.

 

 

 

 

Sports enhance both vision and postural muscles!
Sports enhance both vision and postural muscles!

What you see is what you get when it come to posture.  Vision skills enhance the development of the core body muscles – and the core body muscles enhance the development of vision skills!  So, it is important to incorporate visual attention within the gross motor activities that you choose to enhance postural skills.  Vision-enhanced gross motor activities range from playing fun ball challenges with the younger children to maneuvering a bicycle or scoreboard through an obstacle course with your older guys and gals.

 

5. Practice

Why do we need to practice even in the summer?

In order to learn a skill – any skill, we need to practice it in a functional manner.  If a child is interested in volleyball, then he must eventually get out onto the beach and kick up some sand by the net.  If he’s interested in skiing, he can watch all of the instructional videos, build his core muscle strength, and buy the best equipment.  But, in the end, he will only master the sport by slipping and sliding down the slope.  The same goes for mastering the handwriting skill.  Build the skills and then use them!


 

What are some fun handwriting practice activities?

 

Nothing beats writing a letter to a friend or family member.  Nothing.  elephant mosaic ben kerckx pixabayjpg

Have the children design their own cards with fun art projects and send them off with a message in their own handwriting.

 

 

 

 

To-Do-List_PrintableLists make great handwriting practice activities:  groceries, to-do’s, and people to invite to their birthday party.

 

 

 

 

trip maps

And there’s always the great writing prompts or travel journal.  This is my favorite way to encourage handwriting practice during the summer.

 

 

 

 

I hope I’ve shared some different and exciting ideas for including the Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers in your child’s Summer Fun!

 

As always, thanks for reading!  And I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

And please return next week to discover some more Summer Handwriting Fun tips from our next Guest Blogger, Becca Klockars, an OT from Providence, RI!  Hope to see you there!

 

Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/LKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
 
Summer Handwriting Fun Series #1            Summer Handwriting Fun Series #2

10 Tips for Summer Handwriting Fun
10 Tips for Summer Handwriting Fun

Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing From Miss Jaime OT
Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing From Miss Jaime OT

My Handy Handwriting Tool Box

My Handy Handwriting Tool Box:  A q-tip, cotton ball, and some sandpaper!

 

During my first year as a pediatric, school-based occupational therapist, I became a hoarder.  Yes, I can openly admit it.  A bone fide hoarder of gadgets, gizmos, whirligigs, and thingies.  If something even hinted at me that it could be used toward the development of any imaginable skill, I stuffed it into my car trunk.  Soon, the trunk became a California Closet, with bins and buckets and baskets.  At this point, of course, I needed a “more efficient” mode of transportation between car and school.  And out came the roller boards and sail bags!  Soon, I stopped going to the gym because my day job became my daily workout!  Yep.  I had lots of stuff.  But in the end, the economy of energy and time demanded that I spend a weekend sifting through my collection to determine what I actually did use (kind of like Pinterest!).  My OT Tool Box is quite small now and actually lots more fun.  Today, let’s chat about three simple Handwriting Helper Tools that are small, inexpensive, and very functional!

 

Handwriting development and remediation should encourage students to develop tactile, fine motor, and postural skills.   These will build a solid foundation for a fluid, legible handwriting style.  I keep three tools handy that can address these skills during fun, “I don’t even know I’m practicing my handwriting,” activities!

 

My Small Handwriting Tool Box

 

A q-tip helps develop the fine motor muscles of the hand for handwriting.
A q-tip helps develop the fine motor muscles of the hand for handwriting.

1.  A q-tip:  The length and circumference of a q-tip is just perfect for developing the tripod grasp.  It does not leave much room for any additional fingers!  The goal is to work on the tactile and fine motor development of the thumb, index, and long fingers on the “barrel” versus placement in the webspace of the hand.    It is light and encourages the students to put pressure on their fingers to control and manipulate it.  At the same time, its weight allows students with weaker hands to participate in the activity more easily.  They are inexpensive and can be purchased at any discount dollar store.

Uses

painting, dipped in water, and dry tracing

Activities:

Prone to be Good Practice:  Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy lying on their tummies and propped up on their elbows while they paint with their q-tips on a large piece of paper taped to the floor.  This builds postural strength while they develop their age-appropriate grasping skills.

Wall Workout:  Shoulder, arm, and trunk muscles get a nice workout with activities that are taped to the wall or completed on a chalkboard.*  Pre-schoolers, kindergarteners, and elementary students can practice tracing over lines, shapes, letter formations, and words with their dry q-tips on paper taped to the wall. They can “erase” those that have been written in chalk on construction paper or on a chalk board using their q-tip dipped in water.  Be sure they are following the appropriate directional concepts.

I Can See You:  Students can build their tripod grasp, as well as shoulder strength and visualization skills, by writing with their q-tip in the air.  This is a simple warm-up activity to introduce a new letter formation.  Provide a visual demonstration of the letter on the board, with auditory directions as you write it.  With your back to the class, draw it in the air with your q-tip using the same auditory directions.  Then have the students mimic you as they draw them in the air as well.

 

2.  A cotton ball:  A cotton ball comes in handy for the development of pencil grasp and letter formations.  It is light and compact and allows students to work on tactile and visual skills any time, any place!  A bag of cotton balls is inexpensive and easy to carry in your tool box.

Uses

hold it, blow on it

Activities:

Inconspicuous but effective!
Inconspicuous but effective!

Got You In The Palm of My Hand:  Students who struggle with keeping their ring and little fingers in the resting position and off the pencil barrel will find a cotton ball to be their friend!  They can tuck it into the palm of their hand and use those two fingers to keep it in place as they practice their handwriting.  This will build the motor memory for a tripod grasping pattern. 

 

They can use it during art work, too!  It’s a hidden tool that, even if it falls on the floor, it’s a silent partner!

The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.
The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.

 

Cotton Ball Races:  Students of every age enjoy this game!  It can be done with or without a straw, on a table or on the floor.  Very versatile!  Blowing at the cotton ball encourages the development of eye convergence – bringing the eyes together to view close work.  If you add a target to aim at, the game also works on accommodation skills – switching between close and far work with ease and efficiency (like copying from the board).

 

3.  Some Sandpaper:   Sandpaper writing or drawing encourages the development of tactile awareness and enhances a student’s ability to determine how much pressure he is exerting on his fingers and on the pencil.  A too light or too heavy pressure can slow down a writer and lead to hand fatigue and illegible handwriting.  Sandpaper can be purchased inexpensively and is reusable!

Uses

handwriting practice, art activities

Activities:

Rub It Off:  Place a drawing or handwriting worksheet that’s been completed in pencil on top of a piece of sandpaper that been cut to the same size.  Have the students erase the pencil marks with a pencil top eraser to “make it new again.”  The sandpaper provides tactile input for pressure control.   They will have to exert the “just right” amount of pressure to be sure they don’t tear the paper.  If they are working on letter formations, be sure that they erase in the appropriate directions to encourage motor memory development.  You can add shoulder and trunk skills if you tape this activity to the wall or perform it on the floor!

Step-by-Step Drawing:  Have your students use a pencil** to complete a step-by-step drawing activity or to copy a picture on paper over sandpaper.  The sandpaper will provide tactile awareness for the controlled fine-motor movements necessary for duplicating specific lines and shapes – just like letter formations.  And again, the students will be practicing their pencil pressure skills to be sure that their drawing is visible and that they don’t tear the paper.  You can substitute the bond paper with heavy-duty tissue paper to increase the challenge for those students in the final stages of mastering pencil pressure.  You can add postural strengthening by taping the activity to the wall or on the floor.

 

I’d love to hear about three of your “tool box must have’s!”

 

As always, thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Katherine

 

*A chalkboard provides more tactile input than a dry-erase board and develops pencil control skills.
**A pencil (or chalk) provides more tactile input than a marker and encourages the development of pencil pressure and control skills.

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/LKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  You can contact her and purchase her book, “Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists,” through her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

Vision Skills: Can you see them?

 

Vision Skills: Can You See Them? www.handwritingwithkatherine.com
It is important to protect your child’s vision!

 

The next time you are sitting among a group of children, take a look around and see if you can pick out those who have a vision problem.  Now, setting aside eyesight, as it is only one of the 17 visual skills we use each day, don’t count those wearing glasses.  They are obviously living with a visual issue.  But, what about the others?
 
 
You may be surprised to learn that about 25% of children are experiencing a vision problem, with 11.5% of teenagers living with an undetected or untreated vision issue.   But, when you surveyed the group of children, were you able to tell which of them needed help?  Don’t feel badly.  I wouldn’t be able to pick them out that easily either.  Vision skills can be “invisible” and difficult to detect.  But, if you have just a small bit of information, you can uncover the behaviors that indicate that a vision problem may exit.  These are the “Vision Red Flags.”  And we are going to chat about them right now!

 

FIRST, THE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT VISION HEALTH!

 
Simply put, we should discuss vision health because approximately 80% of the learning that a child does occurs through his eyes.
1.  Reading
– plays a key role in learning through the gathering of information.
– requires efficient visual skills to see both near and far clearly, and to switch between the two effectively (e.g., copying from the board).
– demands efficient eye movements to follow a line of print or scan a page for information.
– demands that a reader interpret and accurately process the information he is seeing (visual perceptual skills).
2.  Handwriting

Basic Strokes - Universal Handwriting Program
Basic Strokes – Universal Handwriting Program

– plays a key role in learning through the communication of knowledge and ideas.
– requires efficient visual skills to learn and remember letter and word formations.
– demands accurate spatial awareness to produce a legible product.
– requires good posture to facilitate a fluid handwriting style.
3.  Everyday Activities
– require efficient coordinated eye movements for using our two hands together to tie our shoes or to write in a notebook.
– demand accurate tracking and scanning skills to play sports, video games, or work on the computer.
–  require good visual perceptual skills to help us navigate our environment, drive a car, or ride a bicycle.
– demand good visual attention skills for following a schedule, participating in school and work, or to remember information we have read.
 
Vision skills can work well only if we have taken the time to “see” if they are in good working order.

NEXT, THE WAYS THAT WE CAN SPOT VISION PROBLEMS!

Vision Red Flags Checklist
A free Vision Red Flags Checklist!

 

 

It is simple, really!  Spotting the red flags that indicate the possibility of a vision problem can be done just by watching a child “in action.”  Observe him as he participates in his normal activities:  eating, dressing, reading, writing, and playing.  As you do, note if you observe any of the following behaviors:

 
 
 
Does he:
– stumble or walk into walls as he explores familiar environments?
– appear awkward during running or climbing activities?
– have difficulty with coordinated movement sequences (e.g., Simon Says or playing soccer)?
– walk on his toes frequently?
– have difficulty recognizing right/left, up/down directions (on himself or in games)?
– hold a crayon or pencil awkwardly, at times switching hands?
– apply too much or too little pressure on a coloring or writing tool?
– lean on his hand, rest his head on the desk, or lean in close to his work?
– rub his eyes or forehead or put his hands over his eyes periodically during close work?
– appear to be looking through you or avoiding eye contact during activities he enjoys?
 
Also take a look at his eyes for these movement behaviors:
 – Does one or both of his eyes drift in or out, either consistently or inconsistently?
– Do you observe fast movements of his eyes, either with or without engagement in a movement activity?
– Is there tearing or redness of the eyes?
– Does he demonstrate excessive blinking or squinting?
 
If one or more of these behaviors exist, especially these last movement behaviors, it would be a good idea to have his vision assessed by a developmental optometrist to determine their source.
 
And just so you can record your observations, I’ve included a free download on my website, “Vision Red Flags Checklist,” that can be used by parents, teachers, and caregivers during everyday activities!
 
It is important to note that school vision screenings routinely check children’s distance vision – what we refer to as 20/20 on the eye chart.  This exam is used to refer children for glasses if they complain of blurry far-away vision and/or can’t eye-charts All About Visionsee the board from the back of the room.   For most pediatricians, this is the same situation. 
Children’s vision, to be accurately assessed, should have the attention of a developmental optometrist.
 
For more information about the importance of vision assessments, when your child should receive them, and the free vision assessment available to ALL children ages 6-12 months, please click here:  InfantSee.
 
Well, folks, I hope that this information has helped you to SEE the hidden value of efficient vision skills!
 
As always, thanks for reading!  I look forward to your comments and hope to see you next time!
 
Katherine
 

 

 

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures above that are the property of the author must provide a link back to this article or her website.

Pictures that provide a link to their source should include the link provided with the photo to give proper credit to their owners.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.


 

Failed at Handwriting: Collateral Damage From Poor Vision Skills

Education News
Education News

Collateral damage is the damage caused to people as a result of incidents occurring around them in which they are not necessarily involved.  Despite their lack of participation, the injuries or harm that are inflicted on them are real, nonetheless.  At times, people can be aware of the impending danger; but the occurrence can also come at them from out of the blue.  The danger was there all of the time but their awareness of it comes only after it has made itself visible.

 

Visible…that’s the key word in the discussion about collateral damage and handwriting skills. 

 

The impending danger – the underlying cause that can result in handwriting struggles – will sometimes only show itself when a child begins to USE his vision-related skills in kindergarten.

The signs may be there prior to kindergarten and first grade; but they are subtle and lurk behind our reluctance to push children past their developmental skill level.

If a preschooler is having some difficulties with pre-handwriting skills, it is natural and correct for us to consider that he may be developing at his own rate and that he will catch up with experience.

Only when he fails to do that do we begin to suspect that there may be another cause for his struggles.

By the time we sidle up to the problem, our little kindergarten student is struggling with reading, writing, and arithmetic expectations.

 

How do we prevent our children from collateral damage resulting from poor vision skills? Prevention is best achieved by “getting smart” on vision wellness strategies and the outward symptoms of visual skill impairments.  Let’s

A child's vision is the gateway to her world.
A child’s vision is the gateway to her world.

review those here.

 

  • Vision Assessments

1.  Over 60% of what a child learns, from the day he is born, is learned through his vision.  Fifty percent of what he needs to know will be obtained in his first year of life.

2.  The most critical stages of vision development occur during that first year.  Hence, undetected vision problems can lead to permanent vision impairment.

3.  Babies can develop amblyopia, strabismus, eye diseases, and refractive error without detection.

4.  It is recommended that babies receive their first vision assessment by a developmental optometrist

between the ages of 6-12 months,

at the age of 3,

as they enter kindergarten, and

every year thereafter, unless otherwise specified by their developmental optometrist.

5.  InfantSEE provides free vision assessments for babies between the ages of 6-12 months, regardless of their access to insurance benefits or their parents’ financial status.

Outward Symptoms

1.  Visual Red Flags* are behaviors that may indicate possible difficulties in visual functions.

2.  They can be observed during a child’s every day activities, such as dressing, playground exploration, and fine-motor arts and crafts.

Eyes that drift inward or outward, consistently or inconsistently, warrant assessment by a developmental optometrist.
Eyes that drift inward or outward, consistently or inconsistently, warrant assessment by a developmental optometrist.

3.  Some symptoms are quite visible, such as stumbling or walking into walls, awkward movements with running and climbing, difficulty with movement sequences (Simon Says), or rubbing the eyes or squinting.

4.  Other symptoms include inappropriate social behaviors such as grabbing at items presented to him, giving the appearance of staring at or ignoring someone speaking to him, too much/too little pressure on his pencil.

5.  Eyes that drift in or out, consistently or inconsistently, can indicate a visual impairment and should be brought to the attention of a pediatrician and developmental optometrist.

 

In order for a child to master the skills necessary for kindergarten readiness…and ultimately reading, handwriting, and math success…he needs to be able to see clearly.

Sometimes, all a child needs for success, are a pair of glasses!
Sometimes, all a child needs for success, are a pair of glasses!

Seeing clearly means that his eyes are working together to form one image, an accurate perception of himself and his world, for an adequate length of time.

He needs to be able to manipulate letters and numbers on a page, locate and identify errors, understand the boundaries of his working space, and write for comprehension – both his and his reader’s.

He must be able to “learn to read and read to learn.”

These skills are built upon strong and solid vision skills.  And vision skills are built from birth.

 

As always, thanks for reading!  “See” you next time!
 
Katherine
 
 
 
 *A Vision Red Flags Checklist can be obtained on Handwriting With Katherine’s Resources Page.
 
 
The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures above that are the property of the author must provide a link back to this article or her website.

All other pictures should provide a link back to their source.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 


 

Body and Head Positioning Play a Key Role in Learning

Body and Head Positioning Play a Key Role in Learning

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, on The Handwriting if Fun! Blog

 

Elementary school children spend 30-60% of their classroom time working at their desks on fine motor skills, predominantly on tasks involving handwriting.   A visual sweep of the classroom scene will uncover as

Poor posture is never acceptable for learning!
Poor posture is never acceptable for learning!

many seated body postures as there are students.  For the most part, an upright position will not be the one most utilized.  Slouching, leaning forward; resting heads on the desk, arm or hand; and legs curled up on the chair seat will most likely be the writing positions that would be observed.

Unfortunately, these positions are not beneficial for the brain, back, neck or fine motor skills.  These are not the children’s preferred seated positions, however.  They are simply the ones that work best for them in order to save all of their energy for their school tasks.  They may not be aware of it but they have chosen these seating positions because they find it difficult to maintain an upright body position.  This could be the result of weak muscles and/or diminished visual skills.  Or it could be the product of an inadequate seating arrangement.  Muscle strength and vision skills should be evaluated and can be remediated to determine their role in poor postural development.  However, regardless of the reason, seating  always requires assessment and adjustment in order to provide students with the best opportunity to maintain their bodies in a healthy position that will assist in their learning.  Posture affects the way that they learn and can enhance their educational experience.  Their brains and their eyes demand better posture.

The brain comprises only 3 percent of the body’s weight.  However, it uses more than 20 percent of the body’s energy.  It requires a steady blood flow to sustain its supply of glucose and oxygen.   These are the elements that prevent the brain from becoming “foggy” and robbing us of the level of attention needed to complete our cognitive tasks.  That’s why a walk in the fresh air can raise alertness and even assist in creative thinking.  The exchange of “old” air for fresh air recharges the brain for mental tasks.  It has been reported that dolphins exchange nearly 90 percent of their lung capacity each time they surface, letting go of the majority of their “stale air” to make room for fresh oxygen.  In comparison, humans are able to exchange only about 25 percent of their lung’s capacity even while standing up straight and taking a deep breath.  The ability to exchange air is severely diminished when we are seated in a slouching position, allowing us only a 5 percent exchange with each breath.  Sitting up straight can increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain by up to 40 percent.

Appropriate chair and desk heights are a must for good posture.
Appropriate chair and desk heights are a must for good posture.

Learning requires the ability to concentrate and to store new and adapted information into memory.  Diminished oxygen to the brain decreases a student’s ability to concentrate – settling him into a state of “fogginess.”  Equally as important for learning is the positioning of our eyes.  Seeing is our dominant sense and our primary source for gathering information in learning.   Between 75 and 80 percent of what we learn is accomplished through the use of our eyes.   Learning and memory skills can only be as efficient as vision skills.  They depend upon the two eyes working together efficiently:  the accurate fusion of the information from each eye, smooth eye movements in every direction, the ability to focus both near and far, and the ease of scanning and fixating on objects of interest.  Students from the age of 5 place continual demands on their eyes to gather information and learn.  Virtually every moment of their day is devoted to this task – at their desk, in the lunchroom and on the playground.  Close eye work, such as reading and writing, pose increased visual demands on the 17 essential skills required for efficient vision.  Postural imbalance, such as slouching or resting our head on the desk, increase those demands and can result in distress to our vision and body.

The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.
The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, could be developed as a result of how a person uses his eyes.  Although the tendency for myopia is based upon heredity, visual stress has been determined to be a cause as well.   Visual perceptual processing, the skills we use to determine spatial relationships, to recognize likenesses and differences and to derive meaning from what we see, are also developed through the use of our eyes.  The information we “learn” is only as accurate, however, as the information we gather.  Poor posture, whether in a standing or sitting position, affects the accuracy of that gathering process.  A student who reads and writes with his head resting on his left arm causes a shift in his eye alignment (fusion), diminishes the eyes’ ability to move smoothly across the page (scanning and fixation) and places an increased strain on the eyes for near vision (focusing).  Slouching stresses the eyes by positioning them in an downward direction; crouching in the seat moves them into an upward position.  Only an upright position can provide the eyes with the best possible advantage for learning.

Posture is an important player in a child’s educational success.  It deserves attention.

 

 

 

(edited May 2018)

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

http://www.handwritingwithkatherine.com/handwriting-development-assessment-and-remediation-book.html

 

 

 

 

Pictures above that are the property of the author must provide a link back to this article or her website.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.