Simple ways to boost handwriting skills in children 

There was the Stone Age and then the Bronze Age… and it wouldn’t be wrong to call ours the tablet age! Writing, in the very near future, is likely to become a lost skill. This is particularly true for the ubiquitous corporate executive whose day starts and ends with smart appliances. Additionally, technological developments such as screen readers and speech recognition have already started reducing the need for writing as we know it.

This trend is now moving to schools and educational institutions in a big way. With an increasing number of educational institutes adopting technology during the children’s formative years, it is likely that tablets and computers may make the traditional pencil an antique and a collector’s item.

Honing the basic writing skill in children is as essential today as it was in our childhood. Some of the obvious negatives of an unformed hand are peer pressure, low grades in assignments and a general impact on confidence and personality.

Usually, the first exposure to writing for children begins with the use of crayons at home and is followed by pre-school, where elementary education of numbers and alphabets is imparted. Parents can do a lot to bolster the efforts of the school in helping children form a clear handwriting.

Take a look at some of these suggestions:

Posture and grip
Correct posture and a hard surface are equally important to ensure flow, consistency and neatness in writing. Discourage the use of cushions as support or the habit of writing on beds and other soft surfaces. Inculcate the need to sit on a proper chair and table to write on. Gripping the pencil or crayon correctly becomes the next step towards learning the art of writing.

Stationery
Getting the stationery right is critical. With fancy and expensive choices in leaded pencils, it is easy to get swayed. The right size in terms of length and thickness is important as children need to grip the pencil correctly. It shouldn’t be too long as that may put them at the risk of poking themselves.

Use of dots to begin the journey
Dotted alphabets, shapes and numbers are very effective in introducing children to the basic flow of writing alphabets and numbers correctly. Start the learning journey with dotting alphabets, shapes and numbers on a piece of paper or notebook and encouraging children to connect the dots. Published books too, are available to make your task easy.

Practice makes perfect
Important to supplement the effort made in teaching our young ones to write through the use of stencilled practice books. Encouraging them to write out a page each day will not only keep them engaged but also ensure that learning and practice of writing goes hand in hand.

Enrol in arts
Sketching and drawing is intrinsically tied with writing skills. Focus on posture, grip and the right motion of the hands in art also impacts handwriting. It is a good way to strengthen the writing ability in young ones.

This article was first published on www.parentcircle.com

Survival kit for single dads

My experiences in raising my son single handedly are limited to the periods when my wife is travelling for work. It is then that one (read a father) recognizes the true value of the effort put in by mothers in raising children.
So, apart from missing the bus on day one and forgetting the lunch coupons and water bottles on another, it was not a complete disaster. My son did give me an 8/10 for looking after him whilst mom was traveling. I will only strive harder to get to the coveted 10/10.

Going by my experiences here is my survival kits for single dads:

1. Get your basics in place: Be organised and pre-prepared about food, medicines, essential clothing, toys, books… This will ensure you have ready access to what you need at a minute’s notice, especially if the need of the hour is to distract a tired and fussy child at the end of the day.

2. List of emergency numbers: Have all the important numbers, such as that of a doctor, grandparents, babysitters, other parents, and teachers, posted on the fridge, in your mobile phone, on your office table… wherever they are likely to be just a glance away. You would need them to coordinate pick-up and drop-off, homework, play dates… and save a lot of time this way.

3. Discuss the schedule with your child: Just as it is important to plan your day, it is important to help your child plan his/her day. Once you discuss and mutually express expectations about time to study, play, watch TV and go to bed, it is easy to close key deliverables for the day. You do need to adhere to the schedule and help the child adhere to his. This way you are also setting a great example for the future.

4. Recap the day: Make time to have a ‘How was your day?’ chat with your child. Let her share her little ups and downs; comfort her, laugh with her and where required, give advice. Share a few highlights of your day. Just bond. This is also a good way to keep tabs on incidents of bullying, etc. that may take place on the playground or in the school.

5. Encourage your child to be independent: Give him the confidence to do small things independently, be it just buying a chocolate from the corner store or describing his symptoms to the doctor. It lets a child become self-reliant and confident as he grows and faces various curved balls thrown by life.

This article was first published on http://www.parentcircle.com