Successful Skills With Capable Kids

By Scott E. Kinney, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, August 31, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

Robin Moyer Ratigan, owner of Capable Kids in Hampton, works with a child on some basic writing skills.
[Atlantic News Photo by Scott E. Kinney]

HAMPTON -- For many of us reading and writing is an overlooked convenience.

But for children, especially those just beginning in their education, knowing the joy of being able to do those things can be the difference between one who loves to learn and one who finds it a chore.

That is the foundation upon which Capable Kids is built. For three years Robin Moyer Ratigan, owner of the Hampton business, has been helping young children, through occupational therapy, gain the necessary skills to be successful in school.

Ratigan said despite the advent of such things as e-mail, instant messaging and other computer skills, handwriting remains an important tool for communication and learning in school as well as in the future with business and everyday life.

"From 30 to 60 percent of their time in school, students are asked to do fine motor activities," she said. "Especially when they first begin school. That's how they convey what they know."

While there are some indicators that a child may be having difficulty with their fine motor skills, such as frequently bumping into objects or people or having difficulty learning to do new activities that require motor coordination, most often parents can tell when their child is struggling and come to her for help.

"They usually have a gut feeling," said Ratigan. "If you continue to have this feeling it makes sense to take a look."

During an hour each week, Ratigan will work with a child on things like postural stability and control, eye/ hand coordination, pencil and grip skills and a number of other elements of handwriting through fun games that strengthen their skills. And that hour can translate into much more, she said.

"You see so much progress when you can do an hour like that," she said. "At home they start doing these activities more. The motor skills continue to happen."

While Ratigan works with a number of children throughout the Seacoast, it may be surprising to hear that the majority of them haven't been labeled as "learning disabled" or any other medical term.

"Most of the kids I work with aren't labeled with a disability," she said. "I wanted to really focus on that group of kids that don't meet medical criteria. I don't want to wait until I'm so far from the middle to do something about it."

Capable Kids provides services for children from preschool through second grade. For more information on how Capable Kids can aid your child visit the 540 Lafayette Road location or contact Ratigan at (603) 926-0862.