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Ask a Therapist

Why is it important that my child hold his pencil a certain way?

It is important to use a tripod grasp when writing because of the way the hand is designed. The hand is made to have a side for power and a side for precision. The thumb and first finger are our precision fingers. The middle finger can work as either a precision finger (as in writing) or a power finger (as in threading a needle). The ring finger and the little finger are on the power side of the hand (this is why right-handed people usually open tight jars with their left hand as well as why we hold these fingers steady during precision work). The power fingers support the muscles of the hand and keep them steady so that the precision fingers can move quickly and smoothly. If one of the power fingers is recruited to do precision work (as in the four or five finger pencil grasps) the hand will tire more quickly and handwriting isn’t going to be as neat, fast, or fluid as it could be.

Why should I worry about how my child forms her letters as long as they look right?

Correct letter formation as taught in Letter Stories is essential for neat, fast, and fluid handwriting.  It is important that the child learns to form the letter in the same way each time.  This builds motor memory so eventually the child doesn’t have to think about how to form each letter and can focus more on the content of what they are writing.  Also, learning correct formation of manuscript (print) letters leads to quicker learning of cursive formation later in school.

What are visual perceptual skills and why are they important?

There is more to “seeing” than having 20/20 vision.  It is important that the eyes work well together (oculomotor skills) and that what is seen is perceived and interpreted correctly (visual perception).  There are seven different visual perceptual skills.  These include:
  • Visual Discrimination – the ability to identify differences between two similar figures (used in differentiating “b” from “d,” etc.)
  • Visual Memory – the ability to memorize visual input (used in memorizing a person’s face, a geometric figure, etc.)
  • Visual Spatial Relations – the ability to perceive how objects or figures relate to each other in space (used in aligning words on a line and using adequate spacing when writing)
  • Visual Form Constancy – the ability to identify two figures as the same regardless of size or orientation (used in reading to identify letters regardless of the size of the font)
  • Visual Sequential Memory – the ability to memorize a series of figures (used in memorizing sight words and phone numbers)
  • Visual Figure Ground – the ability to find an object/figure hidden in a competing background (used in reading words on a page with a picture, finding objects in a messy drawer/desk)
  • Visual Closure – the ability to anticipate the outcome of a partially drawn figure (used when learning how to form letters/numbers)
How do I know which book is the best for my child?

The Mead product line is built in Stages.  Check the ages recommended on the book for those encompassing your child’s age.  The skills addressed are listed on the outside of the book.  If your child is struggling with these skills, you may consider beginning with a book from the previous stage to insure success.

Shouldn’t my kids be working on these skills in school?  Why do I need to work on them at home?

Yes, they are working on these skills in school, but reinforcing them at home in a fun way will help increase school success.

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