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Pre-writing Skills for Children

Thasni F.S., Child Development Therapist, SUT Hospital, Pattom

Pre-writing skills are the ability to learn to write. Sensory motor skills are important in this process. Sensory motor skills help children to draw, write and colour with a pencil.

Factors that help in pre-writing skills

  • Encourage children to do pre-writing activities using colour pencils, paper, crayons, pens etc.
  • Drawing and doing other tasks on a vertical surface helps children to develop fine motor skills. Example: Encourage writing on the blackboard, stick magnetic letters on the fridge and stick stickers and pieces of paper on the wall.
  • Don’t try too hard to get children to write alphabets at first. Instead practice drawing, copying shapes and colouring as mentioned above.
  • Gift them something after finishing their activities. It will boost their confidence.
  • Provide them colouring books, dot to dot books, etc.(choose age appropriate ones) for activities.
  • Encourage children to do fine motor activities. For example: art and craft activity, playing with clay, playing with building blocks, etc.

Activities with pencil and paper

Encourage children to draw. After drawing, explain to them about the drawing as if we are playing with them.

  • Draw with a large sketch pen.
  • Draw the dots and then ask them to match it to complete the picture.
  • Draw an outline of the human figure. Then ask the children to draw body parts like eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
  • Some children might not have interest in drawing. Ask them to describe the body parts.
  • Encourage drawing simple pictures. For example: snake, flower, house, mountain, sun etc.
  • Make birthday cards or greeting cards for special occasions.
  • Show children to draw simple lines and shapes. Then ask them to repeat. First ask them to draw horizontal and vertical line then circle, square and triangle.
  • Ask them to do activities like beautifying the pictures by colouring. Encourage them to colour inside the border line of the picture.

Provide training activities

  • For example: Copy on hand paper (Trace).
  • Rainbow Drawing – Draw the line and ask them to colour it using different colours.
  • Show the way: Draw simple directions. Eg: bring the dog to the bone, bring the cow to the grass, etc.
  • Trace shapes with finger and then with pencil.

General Activities – Sensory Activities

  • Find objects hidden in soil or rice.
  • Finger painting.
  • Allow them to play with clay like rolling, making shapes, pinching (squeezing clay with thumb and forefinger).

Grasp and manipulation activities

  • Play board games.
  • Tear the paper into small pieces.
  • Beautify the pictures with tissue paper. (Roll the tissue paper between your thumb, index and middle fingers and squeeze).
  • Teach buttoning and unbuttoning of clothes.
  • Practice picking coins out of the purse one at a time using thumb and forefinger.

Eye – hand coordination Activities

  • Teach them to draw shapes with the index finger on the soil.
  • Play finger games like Incy wincy spider.
  • Practice them to pick up small beads and toys with tweezers and ask them to put each of them to a container one by one.
  • Promote playing puzzle game.
  • Involve children while cooking (eg. to spreading chapatis, measuring rice, etc.).

Helpful strategies

  • Encourage writing from left to right.
  • Ask them to hold the writing paper or book with one hand while writing.
  • While writing a sentence, tell them to leave space in between words.

All the above activities help children to develop their writing skills.