Q: My son is starting first grade in September and alongside the excitement there are a few concerns. Until not a long ago he was treated by an occupational therapist due to difficulties with fine motor skills. He improved greatly, but still prefers playing computer games rather than doing workbooks or art books. What can I do with him during what’s left of the summer holiday that will help him smoothly integrate into the first grade?
Starting first grade is an exciting event. Lots of kids prefer playing freely rather than doing set activities, especially during the holiday when there’s no real structure. I wouldn’t recommend forcing him to sit and work with workbooks at this point, unless he wants to. Let him be a child, it’s his time to be one. However, there are things you can do in a fun way in order for him to exercise abilities that will serve him when he starts the first grade.
If you’d like to do some additional work on your child’s fine motor skills you and the child can spread out some play-dough and pinch it to hide small objects in it. If the objects have numbers and letters on them, you can also start to work on some early learning skills.
Another game you can play involves cutting a drinking straw with scissors, putting all the pieces in a box filled with water and then having the child fish them out using chopsticks or small clips. Often I like to can make a necklace out of the pieces at the end, which will further strengthen the child’s fine motor skills.
Another game which I like to play requires the child to hold 3 coins in their palm, and moving them one at the time to the tip of their fingers to release them into a piggy bank. You can also work on numbers and quantities with the child throughout this game.
You mentioned that your child likes computer games, you can certainly use Timocco to help him build a strong foundation for developing important learning skills in a fun, playful way. All of Timocco’s games were developed by multidisciplinary teams of pediatric specialists and are designed to enhance a child’s developmental abilities and prepare them for school.
The games incorporate movements and work on a variety of abilities: attention, body awareness, gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Since the games are played by moving your body (like a wii), it makes it especially fun for the child while encouraging them to be active and strengthen their motor abilities and posture – which will surely help your child when it comes to writing and sitting at the table for long hours.
To work fine motor skills while playing Timocco, you can use a marker pen cap (in red, green or blue) to play the games instead of the gaming balls you received with your Timocco kit. When the child holds the marker caps, it mimics the way a child would hold a pencil in school and as the child plays, they enhance their pen grip. The child can also work on their ability to pinch and separate finger movements by using small pegs or finger puppets as controls for the games.
I hope this helps and would love to hear about your child’s progress as you move forward!
If you’ve got any additional questions – don’t be shy – we’re happy to help!
Sarit Tresser, OT