Creating a print rich environment is important for helping kids develop pre-writing skills, but that alone isn't enough. There are 11 skills that lay the foundation for success in writing:
- Hand and finger strength: think about how tiring it can be to hold a pencil and write by hand
- Suggested Activity: Play Dough
- Crossing the midline: the ability to reach across to the other side of your body
- Suggested Activity: Art on a Vertical Surface or a dance like "The Hokey Pokey"
- Pencil grasp: holding a pencil with the proper pincer grip is important for control over the writing utensil
- Hand-Eye Coordination: the ability to use what our eyes perceive to carry something out with our hands
- Suggested Activity: DIY Tether Ball
- Bilateral integration: completing an activity that requires two hands (ie: holding a piece of paper with one hand while using scissors to cut it with the other)
- Suggested Activity: 3D Tracing
- Upper Body Strength and Postural Control: being able to sit up without getting tired
- Object manipulation: being able to control a tool like a toothbrush, fork, marker, etc.
- Suggested Activity: Stringing Beads
- Visual Perception: the brain's ability to perceive what the eyes are seeing
- Suggested Activity: Sorting Pasta
- Hand dominance: relying on one hand as the preferred hand for activities like drawing, eating, etc.
- Hand division: being able to complete a task using some fingers but not others (ie: when holding small objects in your thumb, pointer, and middle finger, while the ring and pinky are curled into the palm)
- Positional language: understanding words like top, bottom, up down, around when practicing writing letters
Some of these skills might come as a surprise, but think about it this way: we are only able to exert so much energy and attention at a time. If it takes all of a child's attention just to sit up and hold a pencil, then there isn't going to be much left for the actual act of writing. Think about when you learned to type: you knew how to read and write, you just didn't know where the keys were on the keyboard. At first it slowed you down because you had to overcome to obstacle of finding the proper letters before you could express your thoughts and ideas. Once you learned where the keys were and developed that muscle memory, typing no longer stood in the way of getting your ideas out. Learning to write is similar. Spending time in activities that support these skills will better allow your kids to focus on their writing.
What We're Learning:
- experimentation with different materials
- fine and gross motor development
- language and vocabulary development
- shape and letter formation