1. How can I be sure that my 4-year-old’s motor development is progressing at the expected rate?
Before your child hits the preschool years, he must be able to handle a spoon and fork, correctly grasp a pencil, manipulate buttons, zippers, shoelaces, and buckles, draw simple figures, and brush his teeth, to name a few. If your preschooler is able to do these, then he’s on the right track.
But don’t worry if your child is not able to do everything mentioned. Development is different with every child; some are quick to display such developmental skills, while others require more time, practice, and your encouragement.
2. What activities can I do at home with my preschooler so that his handwriting will be more legible?
Practice, of course, makes perfect. But with the hours spent each week at school with this task, your preschooler might not want to do any more writing at home, especially if he finds it tedious and challenging. Instead, you should make it fun for him; encourage your child so that his tiny hands and fingers become more skillful each day. Some activities that you might want to introduce to your child are painting on an easel, drawing on a chalkboard, playing with puppet fingers, rolling and shaping clay, or stringing beads together. These seem like your typical past time fillers, but you’re actually helping your child improve his handwriting skills.
3. I brought my child to an occupational therapist because I noticed that she has a hard time holding items and that her writing is rather illegible. I’m just wondering how else I can help her out.
While an occupational therapist can definitely instruct and guide your preschooler, it can be of great help if you can continue what her therapist is teaching. Learn the mechanics of the program that you enrolled your child in, and get yourself involved by fine-tuning the lessons learned in these classes. But it is also crucial for you to give your child some space. You must not fuss over her if she is having a hard time with writing or with other tasks that require using her hands. You may encourage her, but do not accomplish what she needs to do for her. For example, if your child is struggling with tying her shoelaces or cutting up pieces of paper for an assignment, don’t take over. Instead, guide her and allow her to do it by herself.
4. How else can I determine if my preschooler is delayed in motor development?
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While your child’s handwriting is the most obvious indicator that he is experiencing such a delay, there are other signs to watch out for:
Difficulty with unbuttoning clothes or tying shoelaces
Noticeable trouble with holding items like pens, scissors, ruler, etc.
Inability to handle objects carefully; frequently drops things
Struggle with using eating utensils
Display of dislike and discomfort when it comes to engaging in activities that involve manipulating objects with hands.
There are other telltale signs, but if the abovementioned are evident, then it is recommended that you bring him to a professional for diagnosis and evaluation.
Landa Bautista, curriculum director, The Learning Center, Inc., Parañaque City