Beginning to Write: Developing Motor Skills and Gripping the Pencil

Last year, around June 2013, I was still a very lost mama. The teacher of the then 3.5 years old Kyle in nursery, asked me to bring him for a check-up for "learning disabilities".  I believe any parent will be stunned to hear something like that. Other than him not knowing his alphabets, the other complaint was of him not knowing how to hold a pencil and not knowing how to write at all.

Since he was born, he had been to infant care and child care while i continued to work. I assumed the child care centre will help teach my child and thus i spent my free time to do more quality bonding with the child. For learning, yes I bought the triangular jumbo pencils and crayons. I bought books. In some evenings after work, I held his hand to write together. Every Saturday, I bring my son to Shichida for lessons too! I tried to do the daily Shichida worksheets with him so after i quit my job to be a Stay Home Mom, I was in for a shocked.

I didn't know it will be this tough that I will feel like crying, helpless not knowing how to help my son. I almost felt like disaster just struck me. Is it true my son has problem and he won't be able to read and write? Lucky, I asked around and many helpful moms shared with me the tips, tricks and ways i can help my son.

Previously, i had pay it forward by sharing the guaranteed fun ways we can teach a child his alphabets. Now, i would like to pay it forward again to help other parents, by sharing more about the writing journey for my son. I will post up a series of posts related to writing.

If you have a child like me, turning four but can't write, fret not. It's not too late to help your child, especially if you know how, the tips and tricks.

Beginning to Write

Is his hand muscles ready?

For the longest time, Kyle had been gripping the writing equipment using his fist. All the way, he just scratch across the page or just going left right up down meaninglessly. He preferred painting to crayons or pencils. Only if it's painting then he will be able to sit down with me for slightly longer. 

A mommy friend pointed out to me that it could be because his hand muscles are not well developed yet. I did some research and realised that for a young child to be able to write well using a pencil, his hand muscles will have to be quite developed! We will need to help the child to develop his hands muscles or what we called the motor skills. Seriously, i didn't know that! I can't recall my mom if she ever did such things with us! 

And I am glad i learnt it not too late, for it isn't too late for Kyle. There are many activities that we can use to help a child develop his motor skills but i had focused on the below activities (according to his interests) for developing his motor skills:

1) Lego 

The picking up of the pieces, assembling and disassembling actually helps him develop in his motor skills! Plus my boy is so interested in Lego so it's something i can leave him with playing on his own for a while. 

2) Playdoh 

Kneading, pinching, rolling, moulding the playdoh actually helps Kyle in his motor skills too. Even if your child is playing playdoh meaninglessly like Kyle in the picture here. (hurhur). He has also worked his hand muscles a lot to get that shape, thickness and funny green splat sticked onto cookie monster's face! 

3) Spray Bottle

This is a tip shared by Rachel Teo. Having a child work the spray bottle is not easy but once the child can do it, his hand muscles are really strong. Kyle is fascinated by the spray bottle. I start him off the miniature perfume bottle and move him to the spray bottle besides. He also started off with two hands and can now use his right hand to water the plants. We also played spraying a circle, or an alphabets on the cement floor, which there is no clean up required as water dries up anyway. :) 

4) Writing Material

Introducing amd exposing Kyle to as many
different types of writing equipment and materials as possible. Some
materials like paint brush, markers and magic pens,  require the least effort for writing. Theses are good for encouraging and practising writing and for teaching in the beginning. Other materials like color pencils,  crayons and pencils, require the child to put in more strength and can be introduced later or used for plays. Also, a child is curious and would enjoy writing if it's on many different materials - soft, hard, smooth, coarse, or even writing on sand, foam using finger!

Of course, there are many activities that you can do with your child, you can refer to the 2 useful articles below.

Tips on Gripping the Pencil 
(Shared with me by my mommy friend Diana)

I had taught Kyle how to hold his pencil countless times. I demonstrated and explained. I reminded him again and again. He can't grasp the concept so he was always holding it wrongly. While one of the problems was his hand muscles are not strong enough to write while gripping correctly, another problem could just be the technique. 

My friend, Diana, gave me a very good tips! Ask the child to close his fist and open his thumb and index finger like a "L". Then just put the pen or pencil into the middle of the "L" and the child will automatically knows how to grip it correctly! 

I tried it and it works!  And thereafter, it was very easy to remind him just by asking him to show me an L!

Do link up if you have written an article about writing for children to share too! 


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