Often parents ask, “How can I support my child’s learning? What can I do at home to foster their development naturally?” In this blog I would like to offer some suggestions on how parents can support their young child’s emergent writing skills. One result we seek is for our children to be able to write letters and words fluently and legible; however, they must go through several stages to get to the result.
Providing real-world activities will support the development of find motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Fine motor development occurs at four levels: whole arm, whole hand, pincher and pincer. Here are some activities that parents can use at home to promote each development for emergent writers.
Whole arm: large block, easel board painting (provide thick short handle paint brushes), putting on clothing, sidewalk chalk and throwing a large ball
Whole hand: squeezing water out of a sponge or wringing out a towel, Playdoh or molding clay, throwing hand size ball, using a rolling pin, screwing large lids, large size writing mediums
Pincher grip: baster, tweezer, screwing nut and bolts, knob puzzles, scissors, #2 size pencil, zippers
Pincer muscle: tearing paper, pencil size paintbrush, sewing, lacing, buttoning, snap, ect.
As their fine motor skills are developing their graphic language is emerging also. Reading spin-off stories about writing gives children ideas on what to draw and write. Children tell their stories through pictures before they use words. As preschool and kindergarten children learn how to write, expect them to make scribbles on their paper. It may not have direction or purpose you, but it should be recognized as their first form of written communication and their awareness toward understanding that marks on paper represents a message.
As they develop more control using the writing medium, they will begin to make controlled lines and circles. They may make repeated lines or circles in the same spot, which is a sign they are gaining control of the materials. Soon after, expect them to start making more defined shapes, like circle, squares and cross over lines. The next stage is for them to make circles and line together that looks like a sun. With this discovery they will begin to make a visual representation by connecting the circles and line together to draw their first human “sun-face.” After this their writing will begin to take another level of graphic language. By now you may begin to see them to draw trucks, houses, their family and other object that has meaning to them. At each level of writing development, they will share their graphic language with others. They may ask, “What does this say?” or they may explain what their writing is all about. However they present it to you, they have made the connection that pictures relay messages.
I will like to remind my readers of the importance of reading books to children and allowing them to express their liking of the pictures and storyline. Emergent reading and writing will happen on their own. They are not taught but are fostered through the environment created for them. Learning materials and activities are used to help develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Drawing seems to dominate at first, but eventually it promotes the first writing. Cherish every moment as your child develop into tomorrow’s illustrators and authors.