Screen time is just an arm’s reach away and let’s face it, kids are more likely to lounge around face-down in their tablet rather than engage with the objects around them. To be fair, we’ve all had our fair share of staring at a screen this past year.
Although technology is changing how we function from day to day, it’s still important that your child gets hands-on interaction with their environment. Not only does it build their fine motor skills, but it also shapes how they engage with people and their surroundings.
An effective pencil grasp is one that allows for the greatest amount of finger movement and the least amount of fatigue in the hand muscles. This requires hand and finger strength, finger isolation, manual dexterity, and wrist stability. Here is a quick list of activities to help.
Children scribble. Children draw. Children explore, get messy, and climb on things. All of these build the skills necessary for handwriting.
The moment a child has a writing tool in their hand, their first inclination is to make marks with it. As they mature, they create intentionally meaningful drawings and scribbles which later turn into letters and words.
As children begin to learn how to write letters, they start developing pathways in the brain necessary for reading. In fact, research shows that 2- and 3-year-olds can distinguish writings from drawings, and that children at the age of 4 can recognize that printed words have meaning that can be decoded.
This is the first post in our Love Letters Series about the importance of handwriting.
Everything is digital nowadays. Smart phones, tablets, touch screen monitors…all you need to do is swipe, tap, or “sign” with a finger and you’re good to go. Typing and voice-to-text software have substituted one’s need to put pen to paper.
With all this technology, it’s hard to determine handwriting’s place in the world and in child development. So, it begs the question: why do children need to learn handwriting?
Handwriting is considered a fading practice as computers and tablets enter the academic arena. Teachers today spend less time on handwriting instruction. However, handwriting still consumes much of a student’s school day, spending 25-50% of their class time engaged in paper-and-pencil tasks.
We all know what Play-Doh® is…that yellow container filled with that non-sticky, clay-like dough, ready to be molded into whatever our little hearts desired. What we didn’t recognize was all the benefits we gained when playing with it.
Aside from letting us create anything our imagination wanted, we were indirectly developing the strength and coordination in our arms, hands, and fingers necessary to complete fine motor tasks. Hmmm…wonder if that was Play-Doh®’s intention?
(Side note: It wasn’t. It was originally sold as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s.)