Pre-Writing Skills

    Certain fundamental skills need to be developed before a child even picks up a
    pencil.  These include the skills described in these sections:
              fine motor strength     thumb opposition      crossing the midline      pincer grasp   
finger isolation     eye-hand coordination     hand arches      bilateral coordination  
                          
upper body strength     in-hand manipulation

    Many children develop these skills naturally, just by being children and doing what
    children do:  Engage in play.

    Some children need an extra boost for a variety of reasons.  The list of activities
    below will help sort out appropriate activities by age group.
Therapy Street for Kids
Activities
    0 to 1 year

    During this first year of life, most infants are working on fundamental movement skills such as head control, rolling, coming
    to sit, learning to crawl, then cruising and eventually walking.  Their hands are evolving from a primarily fisted position to
    reaching toward objects and touching them, then putting things in their mouths and transferring objects between hands.  
    They are learning to grasp with all fingers together, and by age one most will be able to grasp with just a thumb and index
    finger (pincer grasp).  They can also throw a ball and other objects, drop and pick up toys, and feed themselves finger
    foods.

    Here is what is important during this first year:
  • Provide lots of tummy time opportunities when Baby is alert and active.  This will help develop neck, shoulder and core strength.  It
    helps them to get ready to push up, roll over, sit up, crawl and stand.  Tummy time prepares the arms and hands for fine motor skills
    and prepares the legs for eventually walking.
  • Crawling: Don't let Baby skip this important developmental step by placing him/her in a baby walker instead or allowing him to scoot
    around on his bottom, slither on his stomach or roll across the room.  Crawling is necessary toward developing the arches in the hands
    needed for important fine motor skills.  Plus crawling provides weight bearing opportunities into the arms which is needed for
    shoulder stability.  This will affect postural strength needed for sitting, standing and walking.  Crawling also helps to develop
    bilateral skills (using both sides of the body) and an alternating "cross-crawl" pattern of movement.
1 to 2 years
  • As balance improves, most are able to pick up toys from
    a standing position
  • Paint with whole arm movements
  • Put rings on a peg
  • Turn two or three pages at a time
  • Scribble with all types of media
  • finger paint: also use other media such as shaving cream
    and pudding
  • Turn knobs
  • Ball play with small and large balls: start with rolling on
    the floor, then gentle 2-handed tossing
2 to 3 years

  • Turn pages one by one
  • Hold crayon with thumb and fingers instead of fist, use
    broken crayons to encourage this
  • Trace over vertical and horizontal lines and circles in a
    top to bottom direction
  • use multisensory materials to keep drawing and pre-
    writing interesting, such as drawing in shaving cream,
    whipped cream, pudding, hair gel, finger paint, sand, etc.
  • Paint with wrist action, rather than whole arm
    movements, to make strokes
  • tear paper and make collage pictures
  • snip edges of paper or around paper plates with
    scissors, try cutting along a short line
  • Roll, pound, squeeze, and pull clay or putty
3 to 4 years
  • Throw and catch a ball
  • Drive pegs into holes
  • Draw crosses and circles in a top to bottom direction
  • put lines together to draw people
  • use multisensory materials to keep drawing and pre-
    writing interesting, such as drawing in shaving cream,
    whipped cream, pudding, hair gel, finger paint, sand, etc.
  • Manipulate clay by making balls, snakes, etc.
  • play with wind-up toys
  • construction toys such as Duplos, Bristle Blocks
    (Krinkles blocks), wooden blocks
  • toy tools such as hammer and nails, screwdriver, nuts
    and bolts
  • lacing boards
  • string medium and small sized beads
  • cut along wide lines with scissors and eventually cut
    around a circle
  • fold paper for cutting snowflakes or paper airplanes
    (will need help)
  • imitate drawing vertical and horizontal lines, circles
    and crosses
4 to 5 years
  • use scissors to cut out circles, triangles and square
    shapes
  • Copy crosses, squares and X's in a top to bottom
    direction
  • draw people, animals and objects
  • use multisensory materials to keep drawing and pre-
    writing interesting, such as drawing in shaving cream,
    whipped cream, pudding, hair gel, finger paint, sand, etc.
  • use coloring books to color within the lines of the
    picture
  • Print a few capital letters
  • practice writing first name
5 to 6 years

  • by age 6, most children have mastered the basic
    strokes needed to form letters and numbers.  Make
    sure they form shapes, numbers and letters in a top to
    bottom direction and from left to right.
  • reinforce learning letters by making it fun:  Try
    Rainbow Writing-- retrace over strokes and letters in
    different colors of crayons or chalk
  • use sidewalk chalk to write and draw
  • Use stickers or stamps-- child can connect them to
    form shapes, letters or numbers
  • demonstrate how simple shapes can be put together to
    make drawings of people, animals and objects
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