Writing is a difficult skill for a child as it requires finely coordinated movements, coordinated work of the small hand muscles, ability to focus, and ability to control each step. Getting ready for writing is a laborious process, through which children usually come in the first months at school. However, in the preschool years — in the family, and in the kindergarten — you can do a lot to prepare your child for writing, and to facilitate his life at school.
In the preschool years, it is much more important to prepare the hand for writing, than to teach a child to write. These are two completely different tasks!
Preparing the hand for writing at preschool age.
Preparing the hand for writing in preschool-aged children includes several steps:
- development of manual skills;
This includes creating crafts, design, drawing, modeling, which develops fine motor skills, depth perception, accuracy, the ability to bring it started to end, attention, and spatial orientation.
- development of children’s sense of rhythm;
This is the ability to agree on a word and a movement in a certain rhythm.
- development of graphic skills;
This happens in the process of drawing and graphic works — drawing on the cells, coloring, shading and other types of tasks.
- development of spatial orientation;
This is the ability to navigate on a sheet of paper: to the right of, to the left of, in the upper right corner, in the middle, in the top line, etc.)
Preparing the hand for writing: a system of exercises for fingers.
Below I describe one of the sets of exercises to prepare the hand for writing by T. Fadeeva.
Exercise 1. «Lift your fingers one by one».
Hands on the table palms down. The child lifts the fingers one by one, first one hand, then the other. Then the exercise is repeated in reverse order.
Exercise 2. «Lift your fingers in pairs».
The hands are in the same position. The child needs to lift the fingers on both hands. Start with both little fingers and finish with thumbs.
Exercise 3. «Roly — poly».
The child fixes the pencil between the middle and forefinger. Then he begins to move his hand up and down. He tries to keep fingers together and not to drop the pencil.
Exercise 4. «Pick up the sticks».
Put 10−15 counting sticks or pencils onto the table. Your child’s task is to collect all the sticks one by one in his fist, not helping himself with the second hand. Then he must put them on the table also one by one from his fist. This is difficult!
Exercise 5. «Steps».
We will walk on the table with our fingers. Let your child hold the pencil between the forefinger and middle finger (the pencil adheres to the second phalanx of the fingers). And with a pencil in that position the child must try to do the steps with his fingers on the table. You need to tread, tightly holding a pencil, so as not to drop it. The steps must be small and careful.
Exercise 6. «Hugs».
This exercise helps to prevent writer’s cramp. Writer’s cramp is frequent in children who are just learning to write. It’s an often problem among first graders. While writer’s cramp, you feel a spasm in fingers. Sometimes fingers flutter a little (it’s barely noticeable, but can be seen). It’s impossible to ignore the problem of writer’s cramp. This exercise will help you child not to have this problem at school.
Sit on a chair, hands at eye level linked together. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. The fingers of the left hand bend and cover the fingers of the right hand («hug» them). Again inhale through the nose, straighten the fingers of the left hand and return the right palm in its previous position. Do the exercise the other way — now the right hand «hugs» the fingers of the left hand. Do this exercise 10−15 times.
Ноw to determine the dominant hand?
Before doing graphical exercises, you need to identify your child’s dominant hand. Sometimes this is easy, as is already clear that the child is right-handed or that he’s obviously a lefty. Sometimes at this age children use both hands. In such a situation it’s important to determine what hand is leading. How and when can we determine the dominant hand at preschool age? If you have this problem — read about the dominant hand determination.
Preparing the hand for writing: the development of manual skills
The development of manual skills has always been one of the important tasks in the development of children of preschool age.
TOP 30 activities, which contribute to the development of manual skills and prepare the child’s hand for writing.
- making shapes and patterns of small mosaic;
- working with small details, constructing with screwing nuts and screws;
- cutting details from paper and cardboard
- netting cords of brightly colored ropes,
- working with a kids weaver’s loom;
- crochet and knitting (these activities are highly effective in getting ready for writing);
- sewing and embroidery (note: for a 6-year-old child the most suitable needle is a 4 cm long needle with a longitudinal eyelet);
- making things from soft wire;
- sewing buttons;
- making children beads;
- art (modeling, applique, drawing);
- finger games;
- making collages (cut images with scissors from magazines and making different compositions);
- coloring pictures;
- drawing patterns;
- draw the missing half of the image;
- making patterns with sticks or matches;
- tracing of drawings on points;
- cutting and making paper garlands;
- making paper beads;
- making crafts from natural materials (cones, conkers, twigs, leaves, seeds, peas);
- weaving of different patterns of paper strips;
- drawing with stencils;
- drawing with chalk or crayons on the blackboard;
- decorative painting.
How to determine the level of preparedness for writing?
At home, you can test if your child’s hand is ready for writing. Here are 2 simple tests:
Test 1. Draw a circle.
Show your child a drawn circle on a sheet of paper. The diameter of the circle must be 3−3,5 cm. Now, ask the child to draw a similar circle on a sheet of paper (in pencil).
If the kid’s hand is still not ready for writing you’ll watch the following «symptoms»:
— an oval or a very small circle (a bigger circle is ok!);
— the line will be choppy, angular, irregular; instead of one smooth motion of the hand while drawing, the child will make many small intermittent movements;
— the child tends to lock the hand motionless on a sheet of paper while drawing.
Test 2. Hatching.
Invite your child to hatch a simple silhouette of the object (house, boat, apple, or any other) with straight lines, without leaving the boundaries of the silhouette.
If the hand is not ready for writing, then the child will be constantly turning the picture, because he can’t change the direction of the hand.