Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Muscle Memory - a kinesthetic skill

Humans begin acquiring muscle memory from day one. The first big accomplishment is learning to control the neck muscles to turn our head. From there all other muscle development continues, grasping, pushing up shoulders and head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, then pulling ourselves up to begin learning balance and walking.

The same thing happens when we learn to hold a pencil properly. We generally are taught with larger pencils and wide-ruled paper because we have less control over our small motor muscles. As we become better able to control our muscle movements we use finer writing implements and regular or narrow-ruled paper.

The repetition of printing and writing the alphabet is the conditioning we need to be able to automatically write each letter recognizably. Just as we practice basketball again and again to perfect our body's movements to make the shot, we want the same automaticity knowing how to shape letters and words.

For kinesthetic students it is very normal to feel and recall the muscle memory of how the word is formed. We want all students to be aware of their muscle memory to recall the accuracy of writing out a word. It is an important skill we can rely upon to help ourselves determine if we are spelling correctly.

Muscle Memory Game - A fun game to develop "feeling" the letters. 2 or more players: 1 writer, 1 guesser at a time or in pairs. The guesser has to figure out what letter or word the writer has made on their back. The writer must be accurate in making the letters.

Beginner - print letters with index finger on each other's back. Intermediate – 3 -5 letter words, use index finger on back. Skilled - write spelling words in cursive with index finger on back.

Parents who play with students - you must also change off between writer and guesser. The writer role is using muscle memory; the guesser role is using brain memory to recall how the letters should be formed - two different but important methods of recall.

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