In order to use a pencil properly, etc, your child needs to be able to separate his index finger from his other fingers. To show you how hard this can be for some children, I want you to close your fingers against the palm of your hand with your thumb sticking out the side. You mustn’t use your thumb at all during this exercise.
Keeping all the other fingers down, I want you to point to the roof with your index finger. Go on, try it!
Well done! That’s a piece of cake! Now put that finger down and point only your baby finger at the roof. Keep all the other fingers down and your thumb to the side.
Quite easy? Now put that finger down, and point only your fourth finger (ring finger) at the roof. Don’t hold the other fingers down with your thumb!
Can you feel how hard it is? Can you feel how sore those muscles are in your hand? That’s because you haven’t practiced separating that finger from the other fingers, because you seldom need to use that finger by itself (unless you play a musical instrument!).
A child who hasn’t practiced separating his index finger from the other fingers will find writing very difficult. You can imagine how challenging it would be to manipulate a pencil if the muscles in your hand were in such pain every time you used that finger! “Flick Soccer” is an awesome game to help your child to use his index finger separately from the other fingers.
First you and your child need to make some small ‘balls’ to play “Flick Soccer” with. Take a small piece of magazine paper and tear off a piece.
Using the tips of your fingers, scrunch the paper into a tight ball. Feel how the muscles in your fingers are working while you are doing this. This is a great activity for children to do, so let your child make his own balls at the same time.
Both you and your child need some ‘soccer posts’. The lids off a milk bottle or cold drink bottle work perfectly for this. You are going to take turns to flick the ball with your index finger and try to shoot it into each other’s goals. The best way to do this is to rest the heel of your hand on the table or floor, so that only your index finger can move. You can defend your goal using ONLY your index finger – all the other fingers must be tucked away.
One of the best parts of this game for your child is the fact that you are playing WITH him, so get down to his level and have fun!