Children are interested in writing at a later age of four and not earlier on as we sometimes think. So if we are going to make learning fun and not a chore for the child, we as adults need to find ways to help prepare the hands of the child for the task ahead instead of hitting the wall by forcing them to write too early!
The question now is how do we prepare the hands of a child to write? There are three aspects that you may want to concentrate on and they are: strengthening the childs hands and fingers, learning how to hold a pencil and then practicing the common shapes that will eventually be used to write.
Lets take each aspect and see what we can do that would be fun for a child. strengthening the hands and fingers involves exercises, but instead of doing boring activities like shaking your fingers everyday, get the children to sweep and collect the rubbish in a dust pan, you will be surprised how much they actually want to do this. Teach them to wash the floor and wash their plastic chairs and tables. Activities that use the hand muscles, will strengthen them and prepare the child for writing. Using the scissors, a child friendly scissors is better, to cut up different shapes and different lines, eg, straight lines , curved lines, circles, triangles, squares etc. all help the child to strengthen the fingers and learn how to control the hand. Opening and closing boxes, finger games and building construction games such as Lego are also good activities that children love doing. Playing with clay or play dough, lacing, threading and sewing are all activities that help strengthen the hand and fingers.
With strengthening the fingers and learning how to hold the pencil, get the child to pick up things with the three dominant fingers which are used to hold the pencil, sorting and matching activities that would utilize these fingers is what you need as mentioned in Part 1. Let the child tear up paper with the three dominant fingers and roll these up as well. Buy knobbed puzzles instead of plain ones so that the child can get lots of practice working with the dominant fingers. I promise you, you will get more smiles and joy from your child now, than if you had just put a pencil in his hand and forced him to write!
The third thing one most concentrate on before writing, is learning how to draw and colour. Let the child use her creative juices. This will ensure that the child has had lots of practice with holding the pencil and gained lots of control in using this tool that will remain a tool for life. He must master it. The pencil cannot be the master of your child. Remember practice makes perfect. So what does your child need to be doing here? Constant scribbling, colouring, drawing, using fingers, hands, paint, the sand.
In the meantime you can start getting your 2-year-old to imitate the following strokes: ǀ ǀ ǀ ǀ, ————, ΟΟΟΟ. Imitating could be rice in a plate finger strokes, finger strokes in the air, or finger painting. At 3 he can start copying the strokes first tracing and then writing them on his own. Also add-on diagonal strokes for imitation at this point, ++++ and ////. When your child is 4 you can concentrate on tracing and coping the cross and right to left diagonal and add on the left to right diagonal which is this stroke:\\\\.
Be creative and flexible, make sure that learning is fun and from this fun, great skills are enhanced and developed. Then get them to master the art of drawing different lines and curves using these same strokes to draw and paint. I will start putting up a few work sheets that are age appropriate for you that can keep your child busy, but please always start with finger work. Getting a child to now start practicing the numbers and sound symbols he uses when reading will not be a hassle for him, instead it will now become a fun project.
Soon your child will be the one asking you for a pencil and paper to write with. Not the other way round. Have Fun learning to write the right way.