Whiteboard Walls Enhance Homeschoolers’ Motor and Cognitive Skills
How can whiteboard walls benifit Homeschoolers? In the homeschool setting, kitchen tables, home-office desks, coffee tables, and even floors are often the only places available for parents to teach lessons and for children to do class assignments. Thus, it is common for homeschooled students to do their work exclusively on horizontal surfaces throughout the day. However, this kind of activity generally involves sitting, and minimal amounts of arm, hand, and upper-body movement is not ideal for developing children’s fine motor and cognitive skills. By contrast, writing and drawing on large vertical surfaces such as whiteboard-coated walls require children to use expansive movements that enhance strength and flexibility in the joints and muscles of the trunk and upper extremities. In this way, hand strength is also improved as children work against gravity to continuously make vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines with dry erase markers.
Research in child development has shown that when children write and draw on a vertical surface like a whiteboard-coated wall, a variety of other mental and physical skills can also be improved. For this reason, many occupational therapists are now suggesting that children make use of vertical surfaces as much as possible for writing and drawing, both in traditional classrooms and in the homeschool setting.
Besides being high-quality, open-ended media that foster creative, independent thought and activity, whiteboard-coated walls are also highly useful for formal school work, offering many benefits for developing fine and gross motor skills that horizontal surfaces do not. Parents can also include open-ended toys, games, and other items that stimulate learning to complement children’s use of a whiteboard wall in the homeschool.
There’s much that a top-quality writing medium like a whiteboard wall can do to encourage independent play and original thinking. In the homeschool setting, children will repeatedly return to a wall on their own accord because of its open, inviting quality and unlimited creativity possibilities. Being such a large surface, there is no fixed way to engage with it, so children are naturally drawn to play more, explore more, and experiment more, thus learning and discovering more in the process. Based on researchers’ observations of children who used vertical surfaces such as whiteboard walls for writing and drawing, some of the essential skills that can be developed are as follows.
Whiteboard Walls Improved Core Strength, Strengthened Back Muscles, and Better Posture
When a whiteboard wall is installed in the homeschool environment, children will naturally go back and forth between the board and the table or other surface they’re using for class work while assuming different positions, alternating between sitting, standing, kneeling, and occasionally hunching over the wall, thus building up their core strength and helping to make their backs stronger. In addition, without the back of a chair to rely on for support while working on the wall, their back muscles are continuously engaged in keeping their posture upright so that they have easy access to the wall’s vertical surface. This helps to develop an erect posture, which in turn enhances self-esteem.
Whiteboard Painted Walls Enhanced Shoulder and Elbow Stability
Another significant benefit of using a whiteboard-coated wall in the homeschool setting is that it allows children to easily correct and revise their work, thus greatly improving their observational, writing, and drawing skills. In addition, when children become dissatisfied with what they’ve done, they can easily use a microfiber cloth to revise their writing or drawing to their satisfaction. Meanwhile, all the time spent writing, erasing, and rewriting strengthens the children’s arm and back muscles to build better stability in the upper and lower arms.
Whiteboard Walls Improved Pencil Grasp and Wrist Extension
As every homeschooling parent knows, children learn and develop at their own pace. However, it can be frustrating if, for example, a three-year-old still needs to grasp writing implements with their palm and five fingers, as opposed to the more sophisticated tripod or three-fingered pencil grasp. In such cases, the handy, easy-to-use vertical surface of a whiteboard-coated wall can provide endless chances for children to extend their wrists and practice the hand-and-arm stabilization that eventually leads to a better pencil grip and more control of writing implements such as dry erase markers.
Development of Gross Motor Skills
While working on a vertical surface like a whiteboard-coated wall, children rarely stay fixed in one position. Instead, they tend to constantly move around between the table, desk, or floor and various places on the wall, alternating between standing, kneeling, squatting, sitting, and other positions. They also need to use their whole body when bending down to pick up dropped markers from the floor, bring them to the board, and continue to write or draw. In this way, children’s gross motor skills are developed for use in other tasks throughout their lifetimes.
Cultivation of Bilateral Coordination, Crossing the Midline, and Fine Motor Skills
One of children’s favorite ways to use a whiteboard wall is to make two-dimensional creations by tracing around stencils and other objects with dry erase markers. This activity is challenging for youngsters, as it requires a considerable amount of hand and arm strength to hold the objects in place, not to mention having to focus on coordinating both hands in order to trace with their dominant hand, which stretches across their body’s midline. Two-hand coordination and crossing the midline are both essential developmental skills required for everyday tasks like tying shoelaces, buttoning a shirt, or reaching for food across a table.
Moreover, when young children use stencil templates to draw and color on whiteboard walls, the activity helps to develop fine motor skills by encouraging the use of small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists. Stenciling also helps children learn how to make vertical, horizontal, and circular strokes and to form shapes, letters, and numbers.
Enhanced Hand-eye Coordination and Spatial Awareness
It’s common for young children to enjoy drawing portraits of their family members and to cover an entire writing surface in the process. When such work is done vertically on a whiteboard-coated wall, the surface is brought closer to children’s eyes, thus focusing their attention on the task at hand, and in turn, improving their ability to concentrate and pay attention. This close proximity, along with the wall’s vertical nature, also allows for an easier understanding of directions, such as up and down and left and right, if parents discuss the topic with children during the drawing process.
Enriches Cognitive Development
While formal class work is obviously essential to children’s learning and knowledge acquisition, open-ended doodling and drawing on the vast canvas of a whiteboard wall help to develop creativity and problem-solving skills because doodling and drawing dynamically exercise the brain, they are perfect for making nascent ideas tangible. Moreover, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodlers have an easier time recalling uninteresting facts (29 percent easier) than non-doodlers because the latter are more likely to daydream while listening to a speaker.
Large Work Surface Offers Flexibility
Since the working surface of a whiteboard-coated wall is so large, it offers ample space for several children to work on the same homeschool project or on different activities at once, thus allowing for both individual learning and social interaction through cooperation. This kind of interaction is impossible with small horizontal surfaces like sheets of notebook paper on table tops, desks, or floors.
Open-Ended and Multi-Purpose Surface
The open-ended nature of a whiteboard-coated wall allows its uses to continually change and expand along with homeschooled children as they mature physically, develop academically, and think of new ways to use the surface. So, the instructional applications of a whiteboard wall are infinite, and its ability to stimulate the imagination boundlessly. As such, in the homeschool setting, a whiteboard-coated wall can become a highly valued resource that inspires hours of original, focused, and independent work and recreation.