5 Activities To Do With Your Child Before They Learn To Write
Writing is one skill a child has to learn in school. With online classes, usage of smartphones and touch screens writing has become a tough task for the kids.
Parents expect children to write by the age of 4. But the truth is the child’s hand grows up to the age of seven. The hand of the three or four-year-old is not fully formed and they may not grip the pencil effectively. The child needs strength in his / her hands to use a pencil properly.
Pencil grasp development is required before they write. Many mothers around the world think that for children to write they need to write more. So for perfecting the letter A, they need to write four or five pages of A. But in reality it makes the child hate writing.
The solution to make them write is to give them activities to develop fine motor skills. These activities ensure children move from palm grasp to tripod grasp of a pencil. When children do these activities their fine motor skills improve and they gain hand strength.
The hands and shoulders of the child along with his/her fingers need to practice unique skills before they are ready to write. Here are five activities that you can do with your child before they write.
Play dough is an excellent medium for children to gain hand strength. They are soft and squishy and are easily malleable. Children love to play with it. If you dislike the products available in the market, you can make play dough at home with some food colours.
Play dough is bright and you can use it along with moulds, cookie cutters and other shape tools. Encourage your child to make balls and make long strands. The play dough is storable in the fridge or at room temperature for months together.
Muscles are strengthened by playing with play dough. If the child is older, you can ask them to make designs such as flowers, leaves, dolls, ropes, fruits and vegetables. Children love doing grapes and elephants using play dough.
Scribbling and colouring
Give your child an old newspaper and a couple of ball crayons. See the fun they have. When your child is a toddler, give them crayons and grip/ fat ones. They enjoy creating designs and have fun taking out their energy on it. Once they finish scribbling in the newspaper, you can help them scrunch it into balls.
You can also sit with them and colour. When they are a little older, give them a colouring book or printouts of big pictures like an apple, a ball or a mango. Teach them colours as they do their colouring. They will get tired easily and ask them to colour in short stints.
As they scribble, they are developing their pencil grasp, and their hands are physically developing. And during scribbling you can identify the dominant hand of your child. Controlled muscle strength emerges as they scribble and colour.
Fingerprinting and hand printing
Children love different mediums and textures, and they love to explore. Fingerprinting requires the child to dip his fingers in paint (water colour, poster colour/ tempera /gouache colours) and put it on surfaces like paper/cloth/handmade paper/ art paper. Then you can add some lines to make it into an animal/bird/fish or whatever.
Ask them to finger paint along the dotted lines of a letter or number as an additional activity for letter/number recognition. They love the way their hand moves along the line.
In case they are tired, use other objects like toys, stamps, paper rolls to make the prints. The muscles at the fingertip strengthens, and the art created during these activities are keepsakes.
Use a wide tray with flour/sugar/rice/sand or any other textured material and ask children to trace the letters and numbers with their pointer finger. They love the textures and are curious to explore.
If you are outdoors, ask them to trace the letters in the air. Then as they play with you ask them to trace letters/numbers/ behind your back and try to recognise what they are writing. They get frustrated easily, so it is up to you to keep the activity engaging, fun and make them eager to learn.
Their desires don’t match their body and skills and writing trays are an immense help that they don’t even realise that they are practising writing skills.
This is a favourite activity among toddlers. Mix up buttons, pasta, pulses, balls and ask children to sort according to shape, size, colour and length. The children use pincer grip to take the objects. If they don’t have a proper hold yet, give them forceps.
The balls are favourite with many kids and they love exploring it and rolling it around. This develops hand eye coordination for the child. The children not only grasp but they learn about colours, shapes, sizes and basic math. You can try teaching counting as they sort. Start with few objects and then you can increase the number of objects.
When these activities are done continuously over a period of three to six months there will be a marked difference in the hand strength and finger grasp of children. Other important activities include playing with blocks, building sand castles, using tweezers, using scissors, lacing beads and transferring water between two containers.
You can use daily activities to improve hand eye coordination and pencil grasp development like lacing shoes, combing hair, buttoning a shirt, zipping up jackets, transferring water to a glass and closing and opening water bottles. Remember to improve the writing skills of the child you should give them more practice to develop fine motor skills and not more writing.
Umayal Subramaniam is the founder of Squirrels play school based in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu India. She an independent education consultant, early childhood educator, poet and an avid reader. Mother to two boys aged 9 and 7 she loves to look at the world through little eyes.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.