Following the testimony of one of our clients who is active in the field of graphotherapy, we wanted to find out more about this discipline and understand how the educational wooden game Petit Menhir can be of interest to people who have difficulties in writing, particularly when it comes to developing fine motor skills.
Learning and development through games
We meet Marie-Claire, a graphotherapist in Toulon (France), who assists young and old with writing difficulties. For Marie-Claire, games and playful activities with her little patients are of the utmost importance in the practice of her activity, as they allow children to learn while having fun. She says:
"Thanks to the games and playful activities during the sessions, the child rediscovers the pleasure of handling pens, pencils, felt-tips, brushes... and writing. His progress makes him happy and gives him more confidence in his daily life."
The wooden building set Petit Menhir develops fine motor skills
Fine motor skills are the fine movements of the fingers. It is acquired during early childhood and develops until the age of 7-8 years, each child progressing at his own pace. Fine motor skills include grasping (the action of picking up or holding an object) and manipulating small objects.
Fine motor development means that children use certain small muscles in their fingers and hands to make precise movements to pick up and manipulate small objects. Children also learn to use both hands at the same time to perform manual tasks.
As part of her work as a graphotherapist, Marie-Claire does not hesitate to use Petit Menhir wooden blocks to work on the development of fine motor skills for her little patients: "I use a variety of materials, including Petit Menhir blocks, which allow us to work on fine motor skills through manipulation: we place the pieces side by side and imagine a Chinese wall! You can stack them to make a dungeon... With each scenario, the child refines his or her grasp and the release of the game pieces."
Marie-Claire also points out that "the particular size of the game pieces is what appealed to me because it teaches the child to measure the strength, but also the balance needed to stack them because the pieces are of varying sizes but above all have multiple facets like jewellery stones."
Stages of fine motor skills development of children
We wanted to find out more about the different stages of fine motor skills development of children and discovered that complementary faculties are acquired at each age range the child goes through.
From 2½ to 3 years old
- Your child's grip on a pencil generally changes from a full hand grip to a fingertip grip
- Toddlers practice drawing circles, dots and small lines and can successfully turn the pages of a book one by one
From 4 to 5 years old
- The child draws characters with certain attributes, such as a head, legs and arms
- He can manipulate clay and play dough by rolling it between two hands
- He begins to write some letters, but without any real precision
From 5 to 8 years old
- He can make more precise drawings with more elements and details, such as characters: facial features better defined, buttons on clothes, hats, etc.
- They can color simple shapes without going beyond the lines
- The child holds the pencil with thumb and forefinger
How to develop children's fine motor skills
You can encourage the development of your child's fine motor skills in your daily life with a few simple gestures, for example when you give them small challenges when getting dressed (buttoning at least half the buttons on their jacket) or when you encourage them to use toys or construction sets to manipulate.
For Marie-Claire, the educational wooden construction set Petit Menhir has become a must in her work as a graphotherapist: "It is one of the games that often comes back as children like it because of the imaginary world that can be unfolded around it, and because of its soothing and happy colors, its light and soft wood that does not cause too much shock or noise like the plastic pieces of some construction sets... This is an asset because in the practice some children have sensory hypersensitivities."
Here are some manipulative activities that can be practiced to train and develop fine motor skills:
- hanging laundry with clothespins (for hand-eye coordination, tone, and pincer grip)
- practicing screwing or unscrewing corks (for finger mobility and pincer grip)
- kneading cookie dough or pie dough (for muscle tone)
- filling a piggy bank (promotes pincer grip, bilateral and hand-eye coordination)
- folding, tearing and crumpling leaves (before throwing them in the recycling bin) with the whole hand and fingers
- manipulating wooden pieces like those in the Petit Menhir game, and trying to stack them on top of each other
Find out more about the work of Marie-Claire, a graphic therapist in Toulon, on her website www.toulonecriture.com and on the social networks @toulon_ecriture