Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tips to Help Your Young Writers

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Here are some ways to get your child practicing his handwriting skills before he finishes preschool. With most of these, you’re aiming to strengthen his fine motor skills – the ones that are responsible for holding and guiding a pencil along a straight line.

Give your child strips of paper and let her cut up into confetti. The strips shouldn’t be too thin or floppy. Make a smiley face on the upper hole where the thumb should go, to teach her how to hold the scissor properly. Start with shorter pieces of paper that she can cut with just one snip. Progress to longer pieces which need two snips of the scissor, and so on. Use blunt ended scissors. After a while, move on to snipping along a line on the paper.Draw squiggly lines, straight lines, circles. Let her cut around a picture. All these scissor cutting activities for preschoolers help control the movement of the scissors as it moves ahead to the next snip, and as it moves ahead to its goal, which is great practice for writing.

Rip newspapers. This may seem like a boring task, but you’d be surprised at how much they enjoy it. Terrific for fine muscular development. Start with random ripping into small bits, then move to ripping on a line that you’ve drawn for her on the paper. For advanced practice, let her rip around a picture. Draw squiggly lines, and let her rip though them.

Part of the problem with writing for most preschoolers comes with holding the pencil correctly. Place a piece of sponge in her palm, and let her close her ring finger and little finger around it. Now, let her use only the thumb, forefinger and middle finger to hold the pencil. Having to hold the piece of sponge with the last two fingers will make her hold the pencil tightly with the first three. Here’s how to do this.Cut out three holes in a sock, and let her insert her thumb, forefinger and middle finger in each hole before she attempts to practice writing. Again, this helps to reinforce the right way to hold a pencil.

Give her beads, or cheerios, or pasta shapes, and some string to thread.

Use lacing cards, or make some of your own by punching holes in cards – use old greeting cards. Lace a thick stringthrough.Use thin crayons or chalk pieces for practice for beginners – they are easier to hold.

Let her connect dots on paper. Use lined handwriting paper, and make two dots that will help her make vertical, horizontal and slanting lines. Have many such lines of dots for her to connect. This helps her draw straight lines for alphabet writing.

Practice writing semi circles (like the letter “C” facing both ends). Use dots again to help her get the shape right. This gives practice for making perfect circles and semi circles for alphabets later.

Let her trace the outlines of figures and drawings with crayons.Work on developing those minute finger muscles.

Give her some play dough, and let her make small balls or sausage shapes out of them, using her thumb and forefinger only .

Use tweezers for sorting activities. Let her pick up a bean or a pea with a pair of tweezers, and transfer into another bowl.

Do spooning activities. Allow her to spoon dried beans from one bowl to another using her thumb, forefinger and middle finger to grasp the spoon and transfer the beans.

Practice inserting keys into locks or keyholes.

Take an old shoe box with the lid on, and make a slit on the lid. Practice inserting playing cards into the slit with her writing hand.

Practice writing with her fingers in shaving foam, or in a tub of sand. Let her draw a picture, and sprinkle glitter inside the figure carefully, taking care to stay inside the lines as much as possible.

Play with rubber bands. Let her wrap rubber bands around plastic bottles or glasses – it strengthens those very important little muscles.

Do you have more tricks to get your preschooler writing confidently?

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