Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface

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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...

Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface

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.

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

Writing on an upright surface naturally puts the wrist in an extended position which encourages hand stabilization for better 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 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!

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