Dr. Khushboo Shugani
Developing Writing Skills
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
A quote by Amanda Morgan says –
Before we ever put a pencil in a child's hands, those hands should dig, climb, press, push, squish, twist and pinch in a wide array of environments and with a variety of materials.
Writing Skills Development starts long before you plan to do that with your child. Many small things in the routine contribute towards developing this skill.
It involves your brain, your hands, your visual perception skills, auditory perception skills, your muscles, attention and concentration and hence it cannot start right away on the paper.
Do not make it a pressured task on the child, or let it become something boring for him. It should start in a way that it comes as something fun for the child. Find out his things and activities of interest and use them as your tools to achieve this milestone. Sometimes, it works even with your room walls
START & FOCUS ON
As always, Establish a good bond with your child, understand what he likes – drawing, singing, painting, cars, outdoor play, etc. Boost the child’s confidence level by praising him huge.
Free yourself from any anxieties and do not set any untimely expectations or impractical goals. Be ready for a lot of mess and enjoy yourself with the child.
OUR WAY FORWARD WOULD INVOLVE
Strong shoulder & arm strength. Start using a squishy ball, monkey bars, wheelbarrow walking
Brain Gym & Crossing the midline exercises for better co-ordination.
Attention & Focus – It gets better with exercise, good core strength and stable posture. If the feet keep moving and tapping on the floor, the focus is weakened
Correct Posture – Feet flat & bottom back in the chair
Listening skills - Play games like - Simon says. It will later help in dictation as well
Visual Perception Skills/Eye-hand co-ordination
Imitation Skills – start with some gestures
Playful methods of teaching and learning
Fine motor skills, and pincer grip
Motor Planning and sequencing
Understanding of Left & right or Left to Right.
GAMES & ACTIVITIES FOR WRITING
This is just for an idea, you may shortlist a few based on your child’s age and interest areas. This will help develop the child’s interest in writing.
Use a pencil grip tool for initial grip (if need be) - https://amzn.to/31LMm8p
Trace letters and numbers on the child’s back
Balloons - You can make funny faces with the marker or birds and can make them fly. If the balloon gets burst, you can explain the child here that since balloon bursts, let’s play the game using board or paper.
Sooji, Sand, Talc, Rangoli powder, Holi colors, Dahi/curd - Spread on a board or floor to carve shapes and alphabets
Shaving foam – spray on various things at home and let the child write its name, like – chair, bed, etc
Atta, Playdough for making shapes and alphabetsGrains, Legos, Stacking blocks
Balls and other toys (car, etc)
Floor painting - There are children safe colors available
SOME MORE TIPS
Games& activities in which you model to the child how to color but don’t ask him to do the same, let him just observe and be a part of the game just for fun. Eg: Rangoli making.
Allow Free play with writing tools and observe what and how the child works.
Play some songs in the background that your child likes and create some drawing and writing activities based on that. You may even pick some of his favorite rhyme.
Games with joining points on a larger surface – Eg: put different colored bindis on the floor or window glass and trace lines between them. Games which involve a lot of exploration and use of hands.
Racing bikes within the track. This can be done as a pretend play with tracks drawn on the floor with paper or satin strips etc, and run bikes or cars over that.
Keep a mix of- bowls and their lids, and ask the child to match the pairs and close the lids and cork the bottle caps.
Prick toothpicks on a thermocol sheet and make something with that – shape or a letter/spelling of the child’s own name.
Do a lot of craft activities with paper folding, glue, ice cream sticks, scissoring, etc.
Do a lot of Lacing activities, it improves hand-eye coordination Games like Simon says to improve other skills needed before starting to write..
Games with finger movements –
Rolling dough between the thumb, index and middle fingers.
Picking up small wool balls with tweezers.
Zipping and unzipping
Fun & play-based - multi-sensorial (all 7 senses involved)
Do not overload the child or build any pressure on him, to achieve your goals. Go at his pace.
SEQUENCE OF THINGS - When moving to paper
1. Paper Holding - Ensure that the paper holding is correct, little tilted to the side of the writing hand.
2. Holding crayons - Use ball-shaped, conical and other thick crayons.
3. Scribbling - Let the child free to scribble anything, anywhere. Make it a practice and let the child enjoy patterns, colors, etc.
4. Coloring - Draw 2 similar shapes or figures, one you color and child fills the other. Observe where the child needs support.
To color within margins – Raise the margins using bangles, glue, playdough, threads, wool, etc.
To restrict the wrist movement – Make small figures in the beginning.
Coloring directions and filling evenly – choose the figures accordingly, simple and easy for the child.
5. Pattern tracing / pre-writing worksheets – Many are available online and in the market.
6. Standing, sleeping, slanting lines, circles half and full with some imagination involved. Like
Standing lines showing - an apple falling from the tree.
Sleeping lines – train running on the track
Slanting lines – rainfall.
Try to create some picture stories using these patterns.
7. Dotted lines on which the child can trace. Use simple shapes where hands are not to be lifted.
8. Mark start and end dots for whatever the child is given to draw/write, and later give boxes, before you finally move to 4-lines notebook.
9. Draw broadly spaced lines on the slate/board and let the child write on that first. Size orientation will come only when the child gets this proper.
Highlight the lines on paper
Circle the part of letters that go outside the lines or given space.
Make erasing the wrongs another fun activity but it will come later on. Don't bother about any mistakes as of now.
10. Give dots in matching activities – CAT matching with a picture of a cat (📷. . CAT)
11. Draw shapes using these patterns and later different figures using these shapes.
12. Capital letters with standing lines and sleeping lines, then slanting lines and curves.
13. Introduce Small letters, complex shapes, numbers etc.
14. Copying activities – can do pretend plays of a school set up, and copy from a board to notebook. (always start copying from a larger to a smaller size
1. Gradually fade off all the prompts
2. Give a variety of writing tools- starting with thick and small pieces. Small is key as the small size of chalk/pencil allows an easy grip and required pressure.
Crayons (thick to thin)
Chalk (small pieces, just the size to fit between the thumb and index and middle finger)
Watercolors - dip fingers, earbuds, sponge, cotton and paint around. Brush would come much later.
If you are facing challenges, ALSO TRY
Do not adhere to one approach or method if it doesn’t seem to work with the child, each child has his own strengths, finding that first is important.
Be consistent and not very rigid and controlling.
Sticking to your goals - plan your activities alternating between Sensory/Tabletops/Free play, so that the child doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Rewards & reinforcers should be encouraging or meeting sensory needs.
Encourage with what to do, instead of saying what not to do.
Use Visual cues, picture cards & timers on the sand clocks, apps, etc to prepare the child better and organize their thoughts.
Happy Scribbling :)