“One of the primary tips I encourage is to have fine motor activities in the classrooms,” said Donica. “Get objects and toys that are motor-based with levers, knobs and switches. Pull out board games and card games.”
The ubiquity of technology has made learning handwriting’s motor skills more difficult, said Donica. “Nowadays, children are so consumed with technology that they don’t play with the same toys we used to, and their motor skills are delayed. Playing with Play-Doh, stringing macaroni noodles on yarn and picking up coins are hand-strengthening activities. They’re important because handwriting incudes cognitive, motor and perception skills, and without them, students get frustrated when their motor skills don’t allow them to do what they want, whether it’s writing, coloring or drawing.”
Dayna Holbel , a former teacher and current homeschooling parent, participated in the one-day workshop aimed at students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The Morningside mom knew about the program and had tried it with much success on her own kids.
“It was easy to teach, and my kids responded to it very well,” she said. “Now I’m going to start a tutoring business for kids who have difficulty with reading and writing, so the key takeaway that spoke to me as an educator was the hands-on approach. That really works for young kids.”
The program also gave teachers ideas on how to incorporate all kinds of movement into their classrooms. “Music is a big part of that, so we gave them songs with movements they can learn to do,” said Donica. “But I’d still say the best precursor activity they can do is to get the kids coloring. Unfortunately, children aren’t doing as much of that. Even at restaurants, where you used to see kids get a menu and crayons, now you see the child watching a movie on mom’s cellphone. Coloring would be better!”