Saturday, June 1, 2013

Early Lit Tip: Hand-Eye Coordination and Writing Skills

Yes, literacy is about learning how to read, BUT it's also about learning how to write!  Writing is not a skill that just miraculously happens.  Rather, children need to start developing their writing abilities with activities that help them build up their small motor skills, strengthen their hand muscles, and improve their hand-eye coordination.

How do we do this, you ask?

There are lots of fun, simple activities you can do with your child to help their brains and hands be ready to write!

You can start developing these skills right away with infants and babies by doing fingerplays together.  Sing songs or say rhymes while moving your hands and fingers in front of little ones.  Move and clap their hands and, as they get older, encourage them to copy your movements.  Need ideas for rhymes and songs to do together?  Come to one of our Nursery Rhyme Time programs on Tuesday mornings, or check out a book of nursery rhymes.  We've got tons of them.

As children get older, the most simple and clearly connected writing practice is coloring.

When your child is first learning how to scribble or color (a precursor for writing), start with fat writing utensils.  Sidewalk chalk is great, or thick crayons.  Writing utensils that require the use of pressure (i.e. crayons, chalk, pencils) do a better job strengthening hand muscles than markers or pens that you don't have to push on at all.  Your child will probably start by drawing large shapes and, as your child's skill increases, you can encourage him or her to draw smaller shapes to help hone in on specific movements.

Another excellent pre-writing activity is lacing.  We just did a lacing craft at this morning's Family Story Time that encouraged hand-eye coordination.  The theme of our stories and songs was clothes, and so we strung little paper "clothes" on a clothesline.  You can do this easy activity at home by making holes in paper or cardstock (either with a hole punch or by poking a hole with a pencil or pen) and having your child pass a string through the holes.  This is such a specific, targeted movement that it is excellent at developing your child's hand muscles and coordination.

As children get a little older, tracing is another excellent way to develop writing skills.  You can find printable tracing sheets online, and there are wonderful apps available that you can download to your tablet or smartphone.  Try out Little Writer (free, by Innovative Mobile Apps) or abc PocketPhonics ($3.99, by Apps in My Pocket Ltd).  These make it possible for your child to work on their writing skills while you and your family are on the go!

Interested in finding out more?  Just stop in and speak with one of our children's librarians!  Try some of these activities, and your child will be ready to write at just the right age!

No comments: