Language learning requires four skills that allow a person to have proper and effective communication. This includes listening, speaking, reading and writing. Writing is the last, most crucial and challenging skill for small children. Small children face immense pressure from the elders who unknowingly put unrealistic expectations on the kids when it comes to writing
Often queries aries like – “My child is two years old. Itne dino se school bhi ja rahi hai par abhi tak lines mein likha toh dur pencil hi ni pakad pati.”
It is alright to have such concerns but we need to understand the mechanism of writing first and then only we can put forward the right expectations on our children. Before learning to write children need to develop pre-writing skills or writing readiness. Kids need to build up their hand strength through fine motor skills before actually holding pencil properly.
Many a time we shoot the gun when it comes to writing and begin their instruction with writing on the lines. We make our children hold thin pencils to write alphabets which they do with great difficulty, with equally great frustration in not being able to fulfil it to our satisfaction.
They write the letter, and then erase it because they feel it is of no good, and then they make it again, and erase it again till the paper tears. Then we are totally upset and we are like, “Yeh toh likhna chhahti hi nahi, jab bhi likhwane beitho rone lag jati hai”.
We may think that they get a lot of opportunity for finger movement when we force them to write (for good prewriting preparation?) but they get no sense of satisfaction at being unable to communicate. This makes the entire activity quite wasteful and destructive.
Often at home we don’t allow our children to touch anything that can break and is kept out of the child's reach; “arey nahi nahi yeh to gira dega isko dur rakho”. Consequently, a large number of children are deprived of basic experiences that their hands should have had.
The influence of such deprivation on writing may be indirect, but it is a grave influence. In order for young children to be successful with writing they must be introduced to the skills in the proper order first. The foremost thing is to strengthen their pre- writing skills through fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body. When we refer to fine motor skills in the context of handwriting, we are typically talking about the small muscles in the hands and fingers used for writing. First we need to strengthen those muscles by providing authentic, fun, and developmentally appropriate activities on a daily basis. These activities support the development of appropriate pencil grasps when the child is ready. Even spoon holding practice at home help the children in having correct grip.
Some of the activities/ exercises are –
1) Pressing finger tips
2) Picking and dropping beads with fingers
3) Rolling clay dough into small balls
Some of us are also concerned regarding the scribbling that young kids make. We usually are more concerned with the beauty of our walls than what our kids are trying to convey through those scribbles and we are like, “saari diware gandi kar di pta nahi kya banati rehti hai”.
Typically, children first represent language with drawing and scribbling. We need to understand that children may not yet differentiate between pictures and words but make random scribble marks to represent language. Scribbles may not make any sense to an “adult”. They look like a lot of lines, loops, and squiggles. But these marks are very important to a young child.
They are the children’s way of writing their thoughts. At first, the children discover the link between their hand holding the crayon and the line they made on the page and then experience the power of cause-and-effect. Imagine how exciting this must be for them!
Children move through stages of writing in their preschool years. Quite a lot is involved in the process of writing.
• Hand and finger strength
• Pencil grasp
• Hand eye-coordination
• Sitting posture
• Hand dominance (right or left hand)
• Hand division (using just the thumb, index finger and middle finger to hold and curling the other two under the hand)
• expressing an idea
• making connection of letters with their sounds
Being informed parents we need to put right and age appropriate goals for our children. We need to help them accomplish the pre-writing milestones, before actually starting to write, by strengthening their fine motor skills. Lot of appreciation and engagement will let our kids excel in composing beautiful writings in future.
Mrs. Anu Gupta