Handwriting Q&A

Handwriting is a complex skill. It requires our sensory and motor mechanics to work harmoniously together to make our writing remotely legible. And when we start working with our kids on how to write letters, numbers, and eventually words and sentences, we notice that their writing is never going to look like our own. That’s when we question what is “normal”?

From their pencil grasp to writing upside-down, we wonder if these strange tendencies are just a quirk of little kids or something to be really concerned about.

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Joyride: Riding a Bike

After learning how to walk, run, jump, and skip, the next milestone on your kid’s docket is riding a bike. Although this skill is not necessary for their overall development, it does provide a wide range of benefits to your child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being (like building lower body strength and endurance, boosting mood, releasing excess energy, adjusting arousal level necessary to focus, etc). I think it’s also one of those quintessential kid activities that parents actually look forward to teaching.

But bike riding, like all the other skills before it, doesn’t happen overnight (Maneuver this steerable machine throughout the neighborhood without falling? And you call this fun!?). Kids eventually grasp their first mode of independent transportation with practice and patience, but why do some rise to the challenge easily while others struggle? Let’s find out from an OT perspective.

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Coffee Chat: Old Enough

Have you ever seen videos of Asian kids coming home from school? Like this one.

I find these fascinating. Yes, the appliances they have look incredibly simple and efficient (and make me want to buy them), but can we talk about these kids? They seem way too young to be that impressively responsible. I couldn’t picture my 5-year-old prepping dinner or cleaning the house all by himself.

So, when surfing through Netflix shows to binge, I assumed Old Enough was the same thing.

Old Enough (or My First Errand in Japan) is a reality show featuring kids between the ages of 2-5, running their first independent errands throughout town. Despite our initial cringe of SENDING THESE KIDS OUT ON THEIR OWN for the sake of entertainment, their adventures are carefully planned and approved by their families well in advance. If anything were to go wrong (like missing a bus stop or walking home in the dark), the camera and production safety crews are ready to intervene. The show’s intention is to witness and celebrate these little kids as they accomplish something for the very first time. Although the tasks are fairly simple, it’s hard to imagine our own kids taking on the same challenges by themselves with no supervision.

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Autonomy Class

A couple weeks ago, we drafted a whole post about boundaries, along with every other parenting content creator on the block. Patti and I went back and forth on what exactly we wanted to say because at this point, “boundaries” is quite the buzzword and we didn’t know if our post actually had anything new to contribute. Emotional boundaries, trust boundaries, “I won’t let you…”, bodily consent, and so on; each with their own nuance and circumstances.

At our kids’ age (toddler to early school age), most of the boundaries we put in place are for personal safety. And why do we have these safety boundaries, besides avoiding the obvious child negligence charge? So that our kids can learn age-appropriate autonomy without harming themselves or people around them. So let’s start from there….

You know when your child refuses to eat what you made for dinner? Or when they put on some mismatched getup instead of the outfit you laid out for them? They’re not trying to be difficult. What you are witnessing is their autonomy at work.

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Course Notes: The Cerebellum

We have talked an awful lot about the prefrontal cortex and its significance to our performance in everyday life. But what about the back of the brain, like the cerebellum? Where’s the love for that neural region? Turns out that “little brain” found at the base of the skull right above the nape of neck deserves so much applause for what it does.

The cerebellum was the topic of my latest CEU course, so this post is going to get a little technical. But trust us, it’s worth the read.

For centuries, it’s been believed that the cerebellum was only responsible for unconscious motor movement, like balance and reflexes. Although that is true, it’s not its only job. Researchers are finding out more and more about how important and involved the cerebellum really is to our day-to-day operations and what happens when it goes awry.

With its Latin name meaning “little brain”, the cerebellum makes up 10% of the brain’s volume. However, it carries about more than 50% of all the neurons (nerve cells) in our entire body. With the more neural connections than any other part of the brain, the name doesn’t seem as fitting as it once did.

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