The Recipe for Writing
Early years education is an incredibly important time in a child’s life, as this is the time when they begin to develop the skills that will serve as the foundation for their future learning. One of the most critical areas of development during this time is pre-writing skills, which are essential for children to become successful writers. Pre-writing skills involve a range of abilities, including fine motor skills, sensory play with different materials, gross motor skills, crossing the midline and bilateral movements, all of which develop throughout the different ages of early childhood in the classroom. All these skills are the ingredients required for a child to successfully hold and manipulate a pen or pencil, control the movement of their hands and ultimately form letters and shapes.
Fine motor skills are essential for pre-writing skills development, and these skills begin to develop in infants as early as six months old. Infants start to develop fine motor skills by grasping and exploring objects with their hands. As children progress through early childhood, they can develop their fine motor skills further through activities such as finger painting, scribbling with crayons and manipulating small objects such as building blocks and playdough. These activities help to develop hand strength, finger dexterity and coordination, all of which are critical for pre-writing skills development.
Sensory play with different materials is another important aspect of pre-writing skills development. Infants can engage in sensory play by exploring different textures and materials such as soft fabrics, smooth surfaces and sand. Sensory lighting is also beneficial and works by stimulating the senses with bright lights and colours. This can aid with hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness as children follow and reach for the reflections. As children get older, they can manipulate different materials such as beads, buttons and pegs. Sensory play helps children to develop their tactile and visual senses, as well as their problem-solving and communication skills.
Gross motor skills are also an essential aspect of pre-writing skills development. Infants develop their gross motor skills through activities such as tummy time and crawling. As children progress through early childhood, they can engage in activities such as vertical painting and ball throwing which aid in the formation of shoulder, arm and hand muscles. These activities help to develop their hand-eye coordination, balance and muscle strength, which are all essential for pre-writing skills development.
Crossing the midline and bilateral movements are also critical for pre-writing skills development. Crossing the midline refers to the ability to move one’s arms or legs across the imaginary line that divides the body into left and right halves. Activities that involve crossing the middle line can help improve hand-eye coordination, cognitive processing and bilateral coordination which is the ability to use both sides of the body equally. Infants can develop these skills through activities such as reaching for objects and playing with toys that require the use of both hands. As children progress through early childhood, they can engage in activities such as throwing and catching a ball, using scissors and drawing shapes. These activities help to develop their coordination and spatial awareness, which are fundamental for pre-writing skills development.
In the same way we would never expect a child to run before they can crawl, neither can we expect a child to be able to write without the necessary preparation. Pre-writing skills development is a critical aspect of early childhood education, and it involves a range of abilities that develop throughout different stages of early childhood. By providing children with opportunities for exploration, practice and play, parents and educators alike can help children develop the skills the necessary skills to be well-prepared for the writing tasks that they will encounter in later years of education.