Archive for the 'Developmental Milestones' Category

Post Christmas Blues

As we regroup from the holidays, it’s time to ponder several different scenarios:

  1. 1. Your child continues to struggle in certain or all subjects: It may be time to have him evaluated by a professional either in school or privately.  It is very important to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses as well as his learning style to enable him to learn in the most efficient and hopefully fun way.

Who to contact for an evaluation:

Developmental / Academic /Behavioral Delays

}  Developmental Pediatrician

}  Psychologist

Specific Motor Weakness

}  Occupational Therapist

}  Physical Therapist

Sensorimotor Problem

}  Occupational Therapist


}  Pediatric Optometrist or Ophthalmologist



The development of hand skills in the little ones leads to a solid foundation for hand skills needed in school for writing, cutting with scissors, tying shoes and even using Mom’s IPhone for games!!! My 4 month old grandson demonstrated coming to midline with both hands and now an ability to grab hold of hair and his own pacifier if near his mouth.  Using those two hands together will be refined until he is able to use them together for so many activities! Just look at that eye to hand coordination! Spoken like a true grandmother!!!!

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

For older children, puzzles with multiple interlocking pieces offer more advanced

  • Spatial concept of “corner”: As the child puts sides pieces together with top or bottom
    pieces, this concept is learned. Interesting we don’t use the word “corner”
    much anymore in our conversations!
  • Attention to details: “Part to whole”: Details/ parts can come together to make a picture.
  • Visual memory: This is encouraged as the child looks at the picture on  the box,
    remembers a part of it, and goes to find pieces.
  • Figure Ground: The child is able to find one piece among many pieces.

multi piece puzzles


 Concepts of corners  Names are written in the left upper corner of the paper
 Attention to details on the pieces  Attention to details that make a “b” turn into a “d”
 Visual  memory  Ability to picture and remember the “looks” of a letter (Writing of a
letter comes through motor memory.)
 Figure Ground  Ability to sort out words from a busy blackboard or a letter from the
middle of a word; ability to write on a line without being distracted by the
line (letter will be flat on the bottom if distracted by the line).

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection #2

Last blog post, we looked at simple inset puzzles.  Before moving on let’s take these skills we discussed and see how they apply to writing:

Inset puzzle
Visual discrimination: Shape of the puzzle piece and the space it  goes in are the same or can be different A letter needs to fit on or between  lines. A half circle and a long stick may or  may not be the same letter (d,b)
Visualization: A puzzle piece must be turned over  or rotated in the child’s mind and in his
A letter may be turned over or rotated to form a new letter (b,p,n,u)
Child must visualize (remember) the shape and where it goes as he  removes the pieces from the board A letter must be visualized (remembered) while writing it to be  matched to the picture of the letter in the child’s mind (long-term memory)
Color or size does not change the shape of the piece A letter’s shape does not change regardless of color or size

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

Puzzles and writing? What could be the connection?!

We just explored how concepts are developed with block play.  A child learns to make a square out of blocks before they are able to draw one from memory.  Puzzles offer many opportunities to develop concepts of space just like blocks do (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, around, over etc.).  There are two types of puzzles we will consider:  the inset puzzle and the multiple piece
interlocking puzzles that make a picture.

For younger children the inset puzzle introduces:

  • Visual discrimination: shapes of objects and  matching spaces. A shape and space can be the same or they can be different.
  • Visualizing as they move a piece to place in the hole: A shape can be turned to make it fit into a like space. However, they also learn that a circular piece will never fit into a square hole even if you  turn it.
  • Size and color discrimination:  A large piece will not fit in a small area!  The color of an object may or may not determine where it should be placed in a puzzle.
  • Many other concepts: can you think of some?

Our next blog we will look at the more complex interlocking puzzles and what a child can learn from them!!!

Visual Perception: Blocks and Puzzles

Is your child having trouble drawing a square?  Can he make a square out of blocks?

As a child develops concepts of up, down, around, left ,right, etc. with his body, he is also playing with these concepts in toy play.  Seeing a five-year old child who
cannot draw a square, I may ask him to make a square with blocks.  Often they cannot which means we need to begin with the three D concept of a square before teaching the drawing strokes of a square.

Let’s look at what concepts must develop to eventually draw that square:

Vertical: up and down: Near one year of age, a child begins to stack toys.  Playing with the concept of vertical, a child at this age may be successful with two or three blocks. But they are successful!

Horizontal:  Closer to two years of age, a child will align blocks in a row.

Combining vertical and horizontal: Nearing two and a half, a child can make a line of blocks but also adds blocks on top.

But not until they have taken these concepts and used a pencil to develop these same concepts through scribbling, imitation and finally copying, can they eventually draw a square around age four and a half.  Pretty amazing!!!!! Please encourage lots of toy play!!!! Don’t forget blocks!  Don’t forget puzzles!

Puzzle play:  next blog!


We have our second winner from the e mail list and PTAC sign up sheets.

Congratulations to Carol Bateman.  If you would e-mail me your address, I will mail your book Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters.

This book based on my 35+ years of experience  is filled with pages of activities, pictures of normal pencil grips at various ages, ways to learn letters without a pencil,  fine motor suggestions for the bath and the kitchen, and so much more! The contents are listed on a previous blog and you can purchase the book at my website:

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R