Writing Skills: A Strong Foundation
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As our children grow from toddlers to entering preschool, grade school, middle school and high school, we begin to feel more and more pressure as parents to ensure they are ready and prepared with the right tools and skills needed to help them reach their potential. Because learning happens at such a young age, kids are constantly curious, testing limits and exploring their surroundings, which is all part of learning. As a parent, you have more than likely heard the saying, “you can’t see the forest from the trees.” This is typically the case for children because what we know as adults, our kids have not yet had the opportunity to learn.
For instance, when they begin learning their math facts, 2 + 2 = 4 and 5 x 7 = 35, they have no idea how to get those answers until they start following a certain set of rules taught to them either in school or at home with a lot of practice. The same applies to other parts of our child’s learning ability that we may not even think is important.
Ironically enough, you may be surprised to know that the simple mechanics of writing also requires a special set of skills and muscle tone. Why is that important and why start prepping a child for writing when they are only toddlers and too young to write? While it may seem early when kids are only three or four, it’s the best time to start incorporating fun games and activities that will eventually allow them to write letters and form sentences. We sometimes take these simple skills for granted because they come so naturally for us, but for some children, they can really struggle and have a difficult time mastering the most basic techniques of writing because they lack the strength in their fingers and hands.
The right amount of strength in your child’s hand could mean the difference in pencil grip, the quality of their handwriting and how well they can use hand-eye coordination to eventually track words on a page for reading.
This can be overwhelming for parents because sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. The easiest way to prepare your child for writing is with simple games and fun activities. There are a number of objects you can use in your home or you can find some great toys online that accomplish the same exercise.
Hand-eye Coordination Games and Toys
The best games and toys to use with your child are the ones that work on several different muscle groups at once. You should try to help your child strengthen the eyes for reading while working on the hands, wrists and fingers. Make sure to help your child use both the right and left hands. Even if they already show signs of being right-handed or left-handed, using both hands is still important for brain development and higher learning.
All Shapes and Sizes
A great place to begin is to let your child draw and color with pencils, pens, crayons and markers of all shapes and sizes. You can start your child out with a fat marker that will help them grip it better and eventually help them work down to a small broken piece of crayon. The smaller the object, the harder they have to work those muscles to refine their skills.
Super Sorting Pie
I love this Super Sorting Pie from Amazon and I use it in my center all the time with the kids that come to me for help with handwriting. Remember, an important piece of the puzzle is to not only help your child to write their letters, but to also help him or her hold their pencil correctly for better handwriting. Kids have a tendency in the beginning to grasp pencils and crayons with their whole palm like a knife, but activities that allow them to use their index finger and thumb will strengthen those muscles for writing. That is why the Super Sorting Pie works so well because it allows kids to grip the fruits and place them in the pie with tongs that are similar to tweezers.
Mini Muffin Match Up
The Mini Muffin Match Up is another one of my favorites from Amazon because you receive all the benefits of hand-eye coordination and pencil grip with the extra bonus of math games too. Kids can use the Muffin Match Up for sorting, counting, and early math facts while they use their hands and fingers to place the muffins in the tin. When your child has mastered the exercise of placing the muffins in the tin with the tongs, have them also categorize them by color. This helps them concentrate more on recognizing colors (also good for recognizing letters) and sorting the muffins (also good for grouping to help with story problems).
FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES: Fine Motor Activities to Jump Start Learning
Beads and Stress Balls
There are all sorts of activities kids can do with beads and stress balls to strengthen their hands and palms. If you have ever been in a hurry to write a report or have taken a typing test, you know your hands and wrists tend to get tired and even sore after long periods of time. Eventually, as you build those muscles, writing and typing becomes easier, which is the same for children. Helping children to grasp stress balls or flip beads and coins over with their fingers can strengthen the muscles needed for writing. Try not to let your child slide the beads or coins across the table to flip them over. Rather, have your child pick them up with their index finger and thumb to flip it.
VIDEO: BEADS AND COINS: Kids Fine Motor activities using beads, coins and letters
These are just a few activities you can try at home, but there are several that are great for your child’s development. Activities to help your child find a love early for writing and learning always lead to strong academic achievement.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs