Prewriting Skills : How to make preschoolers ready for writing?
Prewriting skills are skills that kids need to master before they are ready to be able to write. It’s also known as writing readiness. Achieving mastery in these skills enables kids to be able not just to write but also trace, draw figures, fill colors & imitate text. When most schools start introducing prewriting skills, they usually do it using shapes & strokes. Shapes such as circle, oval, triangle & square cover all strokes & curves a kid need to master to be able to write most alphabets. And practicing strokes like – I / \ U C etc further helps them in alphabet precision. Writing & imitating text as a skill usually comes by the age of 5.
Milestones & age appropriate expectations
So, how does writing progress? By the age of 7 – 8 months, kids develop a grasp and are able to hold objects in their hands well. By the time they are 2 years old, they should be able to make random horizontal, vertical and circular scribbles. By the time they are 3 years old, they should be able to imitate the horizontal, vertical & circular scribbles. By age of 4, they should be able to copy horizontal & vertical lines & circle. They should also be able to imitate the symbols of + / \ and a square. By 5 years of age, they should be able to grasp a pencil in writing position, imitate complex letters & shapes like X and triangles, trace a line etc. This is when they are ready for writing & can copy shape to shape complex letters & shapes like X & triangle & can recognize & distinguish between big vs. small lines & curves.
Activities to ensure & improve writing readiness in child
Here are some sample activities that can help improving writing readiness in kids.
- Day to day activities such as peeling eggs & boiled potatoes, opening wide mouth bottles etc.
- Craft activities such as sticking paper, wool, tapes etc
- Using scissors
- Playdough activities such as rolling, kneading with fingers, deconstructing etc.
- Using tongs & tweezers
- Threading & lacing activities
- Games involving fingers, such as imitating an inchworm or spiders etc
- Writing & drawing on a vertical surface like boards/papers on walls etc
- Construction games such as Lego, blocks, Jenga etc
- Practicing age appropriate pre-writing shapes as mentioned previously.
Apart from activities, what else can be done
Considering this as a benchmark its easy to see if your child is ready for writing or not. Although these mentioned skills are based on the average capabilities of a child, there are some exceptions where kids do achieve these milestones earlier, while there are also few cases where the child may be picking up a bit slow. There are some activities you can do to help kids catch up on these skills.
- Get the child involved in activities such as lubber climbing, elbow crawling etc that strengthens the upper body.
- Engage in pointing & poking games to make sure kids use just one finger to point and not the whole hand.
- Encourage the child to do activities involving grasp like opening & closing nut bolts & bottles, playing puzzles, threading etc.
- Concentrate on their finger strength by activities such as play dough deconstruction, kinetic sand activities, scrunching paper etc.
- Play games involving Hand-eye coordination.
- Lastly, praise instead of pressurizing the kid. Positive reinforcement has a lot of impact on kids.
Suggested Reading – Read this amazing article about 5 essential habits we must introduce to our kids.