The ability to write requires developmental skills such as eye-hand coordination, fine-motor ability and visual discrimination. In order to be ready to write, children need to have developed hand skills. This means they need to have the strength and dexterity to handle, and control, small objects with their hands. They also need to develop the muscles in their forearm and upper body to provide the strength and stability that will allow them to use their hands to manipulate and control writing instruments.
Eye-hand coordination is another pre-writing skill, as is the ability to process sensory information. The brain coordinates tactile and movement sensations as a child are writing, which allows him to make changes as needed to maintain muscle control.
A Pincer Grasp enables a child to pick up small items using the thumb and index finger. When a child has developed strong fine motor skills, he is usually able to use a pincer grip to easily twist dials or door knobs, turn the pages of a book, zip and unzip a zipper, and use crayons or pencils with precision.
These are skills a child develops by practice with age-appropriate developmental materials, such as blocks, play dough, easel painting and puzzles, as well as being provided with crayons, markers, pencils and any other “writing tool.” Children learn to write on their own on paper when they express the desire to write something they see or want to express. This is why we do “language” experience charts and why we write what they tell us on their drawings and painting. It is also why we look at picture books, we get them to talk and then they want us to write what they say.
Outdoor and gross motor play is vital to developing the fine motor skills needed for writing. Be sure to provide children with plenty of opportunities to climb, hang, swing, and dangle from monkey bars or other playground equipment. Twisting, turning, pushing, pulling, tugging and lifting him/herself up are other activities that help to develop the muscles used for writing.
Use vertical spaces for drawing and other activities such as flannel boards, chalkboards, and letter and number magnets to strengthen the upper body while standing.
Developing Pre-Writing Skills – The Squeeze Factor
The muscles in the palm of our hands control the movements of the thumb and fingers. When a child has developed strong fine motor skills, he is able to control the thumb and fingers individually, rather than just grasping items with his entire fist as an infant does.
To develop and strengthen the hand muscles:
You can put food coloring in the water for art and science projects.
Now, Let’s Put Those Writing Skills We’ve Developed Into Practice!