Have you done your back-to-school shopping yet?
This year marks a new adventure for me as I add “school-based occupational therapist” to my list of credentials. That means I have been wandering the aisles of school supply and discount stores in preparation for lots of therapeutic work on, among other things, fine motor skills! As I meandered up and down the rows at Staples the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the most common back-to-school supplies are full of fine motor power. Can you see why a student with weak, uncoordinated hands and poor eye-hand coordination would struggle in school and need an OT?
Check it out:
1. Crayons. Regular ones or twistables…but please not fat ones. They are no good for hands that need to develop tiny muscles through pinching and precise movements.
3. Glue sticks. Think about how much strength it takes to pull off the cap from that sticky stick, and how kids can hold them pretty much like pencils.
4. Mini staplers. I don’t know if they actually allow kids to have their own staplers nowadays, but this soccer ball stapler (and the other sport ball ones like it) is the perfect size for a school-aged kid to increase strength by squeezing and stapling with one hand.
5. Scissors. The one school supply that probably takes the most fine motor skill. Hands and fingers must divide and conquer…all while maintaining the appropriate direction and amount of strength to tackle projects such as snowflake-snipping or shape cutting.
6. Small erasers. Pinch, pinch, pinch!
7. Mechanical pencils. Mechanical pencil lead will break under too much pressure, so these can be great for kids who have a hard time writing because they press too hard on the paper (causing them to rip the paper or make their hands tire very quickly).
8. Pencil sharpener. Stabilize with one hand, push and twist with the other. Over. and over. and over. and over.
9. Pencil case. Ziiiiiiiip! And check out this tennis shoe case with actual holes for lacing and string for tying. Yessss!
See you in school!