Motor Skills And More! Working on a Vertical Surface
This is a repost from an article written for The Inspired Treehouse. Click the link to view the original article.
One thing that stands out to me in the schools where I work is that you never see a good old fashioned chalkboard anymore! Gone are the days of feeling that chalky dust all over your hands, racing classmates to finish math facts on the chalkboard, and clapping out the erasers during detention! :)
Back when I was in school, I never thought about the developmental benefits of writing and working on the vertical surface of the chalkboard, but as a therapist, now I know that there are many! The occupational therapists I work with encourage children to work on vertical surfaces all the time and here’s why…
1 || Shoulder/Elbow Stability
The use of larger vertical surfaces such as chalkboards, marker boards, and Smart boards allows children to use bigger arm movements that encourage strength and flexibility throughout the joints and muscles of the upper extremities. Even the hand gets a hefty boost of strengthening as it works against gravity to keep making vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines.
2 || Bilateral Coordination
Have you ever tried to use a stencil while working on a vertical surface? I once tried to stencil a pretty fleur de lis pattern on a wall — it was a disaster! This is a tough skill! For kids, tracing an object, using a stencil, or even just stabilizing their paper to write on an upright surface requires the use of both hands (one to trace, one to hold) AND it requires proprioception and strength to hold the object that is being traced!
3 || Midline Crossing
When a child is writing or drawing across a large vertical surface, he has to cross the midline of his body with his dominant hand to reach all of the spaces. This is great practice for children who are struggling with midline crossing and establishing a strong hand dominance.
4 || Wrist Extension/Pencil Grasp
Vertical surface writing naturally puts the wrist in an extended position which encourages hand stabilization for better pencil grasp and control of writing utensils.
5 || Visual Attention and Hand-Eye Coordination
Working on a vertical surface brings the task closer to the child’s eyes. This helps kids who have difficulty maintaining visual attention to activities and can help to encourage hand-eye coordination, as the child has a better view of what they are doing!
6 || Spatial Awareness
When a child works on a large vertical surface, it makes directional terms (up, down, left, right) much easier to understand because the child can relate the words to his very own body!
7 || Sensory
Working at a vertical surface may be beneficial for fidgety kids who work better in a standing position than sitting at a desk. Let’s face it, we all work better if we can change positions!
8 || Core Strength and Posture
Working in a kneeling or standing position at an upright surface gives kids a good dose of core strengthening. There’s no slumping or leaning on the back of the chair – the only choice is to engage those core and back muscles to maintain upright posture!
ABL TOP PICKS
The High Five Jungle was designed to challenge the child to cross their physical midline. Simply stated, cross their left hand to the right side of their body (crossing the midline) and crossing their right hand to the left side of their body (again crossing the midline).
The Numeracy Noggin is an easy to implement tool that allows for hundreds of action based learning activities inside the classroom or lab. Students can swat, clap, trace, tap, or toss a beanbag while problem solving. Add progressions using partners, or add a balance component below the station to allow varying degrees of challenge.
All Furniture, Labs and Equipment are manufactured by Action Based Learning