What are writing readiness (pre-writing) skills?
Pre-writing skills are the fundamental skills children need to develop before they are able to write. These skills contribute to the child’s ability to hold and use a pencil, and the ability to draw, write, copy, and colour. A major component of pre-writing skills are the pre-writing shapes. These are the pencil strokes that most letters, numbers and early drawings are comprised of. They are typically mastered in sequential order, and to an age specific level. These strokes include the following strokes: |, —, O, +, /, square, \, X, and Δ.
Why are writing readiness (pre-writing) skills important?
Pre-writing skills are essential for the child to be able to develop the ability to hold and move a pencil fluently and effectively and therefore produce legible writing. When these skills are underdeveloped it can lead to frustration and resistance due to the child not being able to produce legible writing or to ‘keep up’ in class due to fatigue. This can then result in poor self esteem and academic performance.
What can be done to improve writing readiness (pre-writing) skills?
- Hand dominance: Determine and reinforce the dominant hand use in precision task performance.
- Experience: Encourage participation in activities that involve grasping and manipulating small objects such drawing, puzzles, opening containers, threading or other related tasks.
- Poking and pointing: Practice tasks that use just one or two fingers (not all at once) e.g. poking games.
- Praise and encouragement when your child engages in fine motor activities, especially if they are persistent when finding an activity difficult.
- Hand and finger strength (e.g. scrunching, paper, using tweezers, play dough, pegs).
- Sensory play activities (e.g. rice play, finger painting) to assist the development of tactile awareness.
- Hand-eye coordination: Practice activities that involve hand-eye coordination (e.g. throwing and catching) and crossing the mid-line (e.g. reaching across the body to pick up items).
- Upper limb strength: Encourage play activities that develop upper limb strength (e.g. climbing ladders, wheelbarrow walking).
What activities can help improve writing readiness (pre-writing) skills?
- Threading and lacing with a variety of sized laces.
- Play-doh (playdough) activities that may involve rolling with hands or a rolling pin, hiding objects such as coins in the play dough or just creative construction.
- Scissor projects that may involve cutting out geometric shapes to then paste them together to make pictures such as robots, trains or houses.
- Tongs or teabag squeezers to pick up objects.
- Drawing or writing on a vertical surface.
- Every day activities that require finger strength such as opening containers and jars.
- Pre writing shapes: Practice drawing the pre-writing shapes (l, —, O, +, /, square, \, X, and Δ).
- Finger games: that practice specific finger movements such as Incy wincy Spider.
- Craft: Make things using old boxes, egg cartons, wool, paper and sticky or masking tape.
- Construction: Building with duplo, lego, mobilo or other construction toys.