Every year in FS1 I am always asked questions such as, “Why doesn’t my child write at home?”, “Why does my child hold a pencil like that?” & “How can I teach them to hold a pencil ?”.
Firstly, I would just like to say I can understand and appreciate your worries, as a parent you want your child to be ready for school and you wish for them to be achieving milestones. However, I cannot stress enough how important it is for children to experience the stages of development at their own pace.
Think about how your child learned to walk; first they learnt to roll, then to stand, to walk and then to run and jump. A child must go through each stage to fully develop to the end product. You do not skip stages and go from rolling to jumping; and the same goes for writing.
There are so many skills required to write and all areas should be developed before a child is expected to use a pencil confidently. In our nursery we are child-led in our approach and this results in highly engaged children willing to try new things such as writing in a variety of materials such as sand, glitter, paint etc. We write big letters in the garden, we dive for letters in the pool; what the body does, the mind remembers. Our FS1 children always graduate open to learning we receive excellent feedback from our transition schools.
If we rush these things, we run the risk of stomping out all the passion, the fun and the love of it. Writing shouldn’t feel like a task, but more a form of expression.
1) Start with big movements
Get those shoulders, elbows, arms, wrists and fingers moving.Gross motor movements improve coordination & build up the muscles needed for writing. There are 6 key movements required to write the English Language. Up and down, right to left, left to right, clockwise, anti clockwise, cross and humps and bumps. Put some music on, hold a ribbon or a cloth in each hand and practice the movements!
2) Make it Sensory
Make a sensory writing tray with a old baking tray or a plate and fill it with glitter, flour or salt. Anything which will make a mark. Write upside down, make marks standing up, mix it up. This will develop their fine motor skills and make mark making fun and pressure free!
3) Don’t correct grip or dominant hand.
I learnt this very important point on a Emergent Writing Course with EYES Dubai, children must go through the different stages of pencil grip at their own pace. Adults provide experiences and activities which help to strengthen their grip, but if we correct their grip this can have damaging effects. If a child naturally uses their left hand as their dominant hand. It means their more creative side of their brain is more active. If a child is writing with a whole hand grip do not correct them. If they skip a stage they will write too hard or too soft when they do begin to write.