Many experiences and every-day play activities that your child engages in provides the foundation skills needed for writing. By interacting with your child during these experiences, you can extend on the learning opportunities provided. When your child expresses an interest in literacy, you can capitalise on these moments by following your child’s lead. These spontaneous learning experiences have importance and meaning for your child and are valuable for teaching them pre-writing skills.
Your child needs to have a good grasp of certain basic skills before they can learn to write. See below:
- fine motor muscle control
- visual discrimination
- eye-hand coordination
Here are some actives that can assist your child to improve these skills.
Construction materials offer many opportunities for your child to build her/his skills through practice. Building your child’s self-confidence can only help with her/his writing progress. Some examples of construction materials you could use are: pipe cleaners, connecting tubes, different size cardboard boxes, PET plastic bottles and interlocking building bricks etc.
Providing a range of different puzzles from basic right through to more complex puzzles, will reinforce the above pre-writing skills. You could even check the library as sometimes they have puzzles you can borrow for your child to enjoy. Try making your own puzzles by using empty cereal boxes. Just glue a photo of an animal or anything else your child may like, for example pictures of 'Frozen' or 'Spiderman'. When the glue is dry just cut out your puzzle pieces and away you go.
Inviting your child to participate in activities involving play-dough, water, clay, sand or goop etc. offers your child more opportunities to develop pre-writing skills. The muscles in your child's hands and fingers will strengthen as they pour, scrape, pinch and squeeze the materials. This will assist them to make marks on their piece of paper by holding and manipulating a pencil.
Your child will enjoy using scissors to cut out pictures from magazines to make collages. Using scissors is an important milestone and requires lots of practice to open and shut them with one hand, while keeping the hand vertical. Your child will need lots of practice so they can learn to move the scissors forward. This requires a lot of patience and perseverance from your child. Other activities you and your child could try are: cutting play dough; cutting straws; cutting straight and wavy lines; cutting around shapes like circles, squares or triangles etc. Just remember the more practice the better your child's cutting skills will improve.
Just remember the more exposure your child has to the written word the better, as writing and reading go together. This constant exposure will help your child begin to recognise that symbols can be read and understood by others. This supports the view that ideas, experiences and thoughts can be expressed through photos, print, pictures and words.
Reading to your child every day reinforces the concept of the written word and what it means. There are all manner of reading material available to share with your child like – recipes, letters, magazines and books. Inviting your child to dictate a letter to grandma or a friend, are a fun way to practice reading and writing. Labelling your child's room with signs like cupboard, bed, lamp, book shelf, is also a good way for your child to learn to recognise certain words. Writing your child's name on their artwork is a great way for them to learn how to spell their name. Making a book together is also a great activity. Try using photos of your child and ask her/him to make up a story while you write down the words. As books are very expensive, a weekly visit to the library is a great outing for your child. Let your child browse through the books and choose some stories to take home.