Developing fine motor skills in your hands is essential to learning to write. What are fine motor skills, you ask? An easy way that I remember the difference between gross motor skills (the large muscle groups that control crawling, walking, dancing, jumping, etc.) and fine motor skills (the small muscles that allow us to grip pencils, pinch with our index finger and thumb, and use scissors) is that fine motor skills need a lot of finger finesse. When thinking of fine motor skills remember the fingers.
Encourage your pre-writer to practice finger finesse skills by providing different mediums to experiment with such as shaving cream, salt, bird seed, sand, or any other material that is easily manipulated and then reformed. When using sand, salt, or any material similar, place it in a tray to contain it.
Print out large practice letters to help your pre-writer visualize what they will be writing. Have your pre-writers practice with both their pointer fingers and a utensil such as a paintbrush to mimic holding a pencil.
Both motions use different fine motor groups that are essential to writing.
Remember this activity is a fun and engaging way for early literacy skills to become a habit in your
home. Don’t take it too seriously, and let the play guide the practice. The more fun your pre-writer has with this activity, the more likely they are to want to repeat it. It is alright if they are not forming letters, or they are not making them “right.” Model correct letter formation with them, and allow them the freedom to explore with these fun materials. The purpose of this activity is strengthening fine motor skills that will allow them to learn to write with better confidence.
Have fun with this, and please remember to let us know if you try this skill at home. We love to hear your feedback.
For more information on this topic please consult the following articles:
Help Your Child Build Fine Motor Skills
Developing Motor Skills
Understanding Physical Development in Preschoolers