Rewire the Brain: New Educational Handbook for Emotional Control and Fine Motor Development
This article introduces ways to rewire the brain for developing your child’s emotions, reading, fine motor and writing skills. Details about the handbook are below.
When children walk through my door, each is unique and different, just like their learning development. While some struggle with attention and focus issues, Sensory Processing Disorders, anxiety, emotional grounding, and poor development, the main reason they come to see me is for an academic issue. When parents call me, their first concern is that their child can’t read, write, spell or follow directions in the classroom. When this happens, we must find where the breakdown is and what we can do to close those gaps. Is it because they can’t remember their letters and sounds? Is it because their bodies can’t attend and focus so they can’t learn? Or, is it because they can’t process and comprehend information so they miss homework assignments, instructions and can’t get their thoughts down on paper?
What is the common denominator in all of these issues? It’s the brain. When there is a disconnection in the brain, the child can’t learn. We must build neural connections within the brain to get the right side and left side working together for critical thinking, emotional stability, problem solving, auditory processing, organization, retention and focus. So how do we accomplish this?
When children are young, they mostly live on the right side of their brain, which is why they love activities that involve their creative side (painting, play dough, coloring, building with blocks, playing at the park, and getting dirty). As your child grows, they begin to make the learning transition from their right brain to their left brain for reading, writing, spelling, math, and speech and language. If a child has a difficult time making this transition or is developmentally delayed, the brain does not become “hardwired” for higher learning. This is where children often get stuck; on the right side of their brain. When this happens, children that stay on the right side of their brain tend to have difficulty with emotional grounding, attention and focus, sitting still in class, listening to the teacher and following directions. What we must do is help “rewire” the brain for better learning development.
Jeanette Farmer, certified handwriting remediation specialist, supports this position saying, “When the right brain dominant child is thrown into a left-brain system and expected to perform using processing skills not yet in place, stress and anxiety sets the child up for failure in trying to meet expectations.”
Research supports Farmer’s findings as approximately 40 percent of young children are not prepared intellectually, socially or emotionally to enter school.
Rewiring the Brain
To rewire the brain, your child needs music and movement. Both support the learning development process. We’ve already discussed the importance of using exercises to cross the midline, build core muscle, improve proprioception and vestibular to enhance your child’s academic potential. Now, we must incorporate handwriting exercises to transition your child’s brain from the right side to the left side.
Handwriting exercises can prep the brain for planning, reviewing, organizing, attending, expressing and speaking. Forming letters, words and sentences must eventually become automatic for children. If children cannot identify one letter to the next, they won’t be able to communicate their ideas or turn expressive language into well-written text. This is why, in part, so many children have emotional grounding issues, anxiety and behavior problems. It’s because they haven’t fully developed the emotional side of the brain for communication and expressive language.
How do Handwriting Exercises Rewire the Brain?
As children perform handwriting exercises, you will begin to notice a difference in their emotions, visual perception and fine motor development. Additional benefits may include the following:
- You will be able to identify fine-motor problems
- You will improve tracking, retention and pencil grip
- You will help your child establish dominance
- You will improve their visual-motor skills, crossing the midline and hand-eye coordination
- You will provide more opportunities for sensory-motor development
A common misconception is that handwriting activities are only for fine motor development. However, these types of exercises are also linked to helping children who are often impulsive, lack attention and focus, display disruptive behavior and experience stress or anxiety.
Children with these emotional issues have not yet bridged the gap between their right and left brain, which creates strong emotions and behavior issues that are often manifested in school and at home. Many times children are so focused on controlling their emotions, they can’t free up their brain for higher learning concepts.
Handwriting exercises can shift the dominance of the child’s emotional state in the right brain to a more stabilized environment in the left brain, creating controlled emotions and logical thinking.
Farmer said, “Research indicates that handwriting taps the emotions. Likewise, rhythmic movement generates a sense of well being.”
When a child has poor visual skills, it may impact their learning and impair their capacity to form letters and line up letters and words. The visual system is by far the most used system in the classroom. Children that have an underdeveloped visual system often struggle with directionality, writing in a stationary line, neatness and organization. If directionality is a problem, reading can be confusing. Many times letters appear to be the same symbol, which prevents the child from understanding letter orientation.
Handwriting exercises can help your child track words on a page, have legible handwriting, hold a pencil correctly and copy notes from the chalkboard.
Fine Motor Development
If your child struggles with fine motor skills, they probably dislike writing activities and any activities with a paper and pencil. Before incorporating handwriting exercises, it’s important to check your child for a retained Palmar reflex. If your child retains this reflex and does not develop their pincer grasp for writing, you may always see delays in handwriting, pencil grip and fine motor.
Because fine motor development requires coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers, handwriting exercises can strengthen these muscles for better motor achievement.
Many parents and teachers have asked us how they can better help their children and students rewire the brain at home and at school. For this reason, we have developed a new online handwriting handbook to “rewire” the brain for higher learning. Each activity was created with a specific purpose in mind. It not only engages both the right and left sides of the brain, it also helps your child develop letter formation, directionality, visual-spacing, organization, fine motor and reading growth.
Our e-Handbook provides parents, teachers, Occupational Therapists, Pediatric Therapists, and educators with several fun, playful learning activities to ignite learning and includes some of the following:
- Instruction to Rewiring the Brain
- How handwriting exercises benefit your child’s learning development
- Line exercises for letter development and recognition
- Mazes, dot to dots, tracing, coloring, hole punch activities and more
- Curves, boxes and shapes
- Fun fine motor activities you can try at home
The Rewiring the Brain Handbook contains 41 pages of fun activities that can easily be printed from your home computer. Activities should be done for at least 20 minutes per day. All activities require adult supervision in the beginning and can be used in conjunction with music therapy and gross motor development. To get your copy, click here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs