​​​​​Evergreen Outdoor Education 

Fairy Soup and Dino Stew

25 Muscles for Writing
By Jools Logan Evergreen Outdoor Education
July 12th 2016

It baffled me for years why some children struggled so much with their writing.  I’m not referring to content as such, I’m talking about physical agility and stamina.  So many times I would see children hold their forearms and shake their hands all the time complaining how sore everything was.  So demoralising for them.

I wanted to know why ‘writer’s cramp’ as it became known affected some children more than others.

As a teacher I was fortunate enough to have the same children from pre-school all the way through to year 6 and formed amazing relationships with each child. (not sure it was fortunate for them mind, I bet there were days when they thought ‘oh no, not her again’!) I didn’t have them every school year but I was there at the beginning and end and had much involvement along the way.

I began my research by looking back.  It seemed children who had greater writing agility and stamina were the children who had been excessively active both in large and small scale activities in their early years. 

Many of the more sedate children such as those who would choose story tapes or technology equipment were amongst those who struggled with writing.  The little folk who spent most of their time on the football pitch and never the home corner or the art table equally struggled with writing. 

So which children didn’t seem to struggle? I needed more information…

I waded through masses of papers and articles before learning there are 25 muscles in the arm which are all needed for writing: 25 muscles for teeny tiny writing! They really should teach this stuff in uni!

Ok, laymen’s terms. The arm is made up of a series of muscles which if not developed in the correct proportions will result in incoordination and weakness. Simples.

A balanced well thought out, carefully resourced setting is much more important than we first think. Children will always gravitate towards their favourite thing. Therefore, we have to be mindful and ensure our settings have more of the good stuff, the important stuff and less of the not so important stuff. 

There are myriads of articles out there showcasing great settings and the evidence is mounting in support of outdoor learning environments which by their very nature involve large and small activities.  Where else can you climb a tree, build a den, pluck petals from a daisy and stir them into mud pie?  Just think of the range of large and small movements in that last sentence.

In conclusion: more physical activities large and small, more opportunities to develop those fine and gross motor skills.  Only then can we be confident our little folk are getting the best possible start and hopefully end the cycle of reluctant and pained writers.

Get them outdoors, it’s good for them.

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