Friday, November 17, 2006

Coloring within the lines

Many believe that forcing children to color “inside the lines” of a coloring book will stunt their creativity. I have found the opposite: Children who lack strength in their writing hand cannot draw and so cannot be creative! Strength in the hand muscles is needed for drawing and writing. The development of this strength is often delayed in at risk children, especially boys.

Fine motor skills are linked to other abilities

I noticed some time ago that my son’s drawings lacked the detail expected from a child of his age and overall intelligence. I was puzzled by this until I realized that he couldn’t draw because he lacked strength in his writing hand. He uses the muscles of his upper arm to both draw and paint. The result is that his drawings and paintings are all large strokes. When children have the ability to reproduce the shapes in their minds on paper they develop important visual-spatial skills. These skills are necessary to comprehend math. Children with fine motor weakness are often delayed in math. Furthermore, the part of the brain that controls the writing hand is very close to the part of the brain responsible for impulse control. Poor impulse control, hand weakness and the use of both hands for writing are related!

How to tell if your child needs help with fine motor skills

Being ambidextrous, using both hands for writing, drawing or coloring is not necessarily good. It may indicate weakness in both hands. If your four year old is unable to color in a coloring book beyond making large scribbles over the entire page, this may indicate he has hand weakness. To test this, gently hold his wrist while he draws. Can he use his hand only to draw or is he mainly using his upper arm?

If your child has weakness in his hands, he needs to exercise them

There are many exercises that will strengthen your child’s hand. The most important thing is to have him do these exercises for short periods of time every day. Trying to color within the lines of a coloring book with large sized crayons is the best exercise. For other ideas click HERE!

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