A network to share best practices for children with special needs
My child's private day school called and asked about a recommendation to improve the Pre-K children's fine motor and writing skills. They clarified that many of the children do not hold a pencil before Kindergarten and they want to work on pre-writing skills.
My first thought was that children growing up nowadays have a different exposure to meeting developmental milestones than we did when we were growing up. For example, we used to tie our shoes by 4 years old because we had laces on them, but nowadays most children's shoes are "lace-free" and therefore many children don't learn to lace until they are 7 or even 8. One would think all of the video-gaming and i-touching (ipod, ipad) would help them improve their fine motor skills, but we have no proof that supports this. In the meantime, it is important to go
back to the basics and work on basic fine motor skills such as zipping, buttoning, shoe-tying, scissors, buckling, and manipulating small objects.
In terms of introducing and/or enhancing pre-writing skills, it is important that they are actually practicing pre-writing. This means getting pencils, crayons, and markers into the hands of kids and having them practice these "pre-writing" movements. You can have kids manipulate as much play-dough, zip 100's of buttons and play with small knobby products, but until they actually practice writing movements, they will not have the practice they need to begin actual writing. So, what should 4 year-old children be practicing at this age? They should be copying or making shapes such as circles, squares, and lines. They should be given time to doodle with different types of writing instruments and on different surfaces (some that glide easier versus others). Once they master some of these basic skills, they can practice keeping their writing in-between the lines such as in a maze. One of my favorite tools is called Hi-Write which has specifically designed activities for pre-writing.
Share your pre-writing activities in the comment section below.