Before children can hold and manipulate a pencil to write, they must practice using the different muscles in their bodies. Large (gross) motor skills come before small (fine) motor skills, but it’s never too early to practice both! As you listen to “Baby in the Cradle” on Susan Salidor’s Come Make a Circle 2, act out the words with your child.
Baby in the Cradle
The baby in the cradle goes rock, rock, rock.
The clock on the wall goes ticka-ticka-tock.
The rain on the window goes tap, tap, tap,
And when the sun comes up we clap, clap, clap!
Emergent writing is young children’s first attempts at the writing process. Children as young as 2 years old begin to imitate the act of writing by creating drawings and symbolic markings that represent their thoughts and ideas. You can encourage preschoolers to develop writing skills by encouraging them to communicate their thoughts and record their ideas.
Coloring is a great way to practice hand-eye coordination needed for reading and writing. Talk to your child about their drawing and label some of the items in the picture. Point out the words to your child. This shows that printed letters stand for spoken words.
Even before children can write themselves, learning about the written word helps them see that they are many ways to communicate information. Supertruck by Stephen Savage does not have a lot of text on each page. However, the text is displayed in neat block lettering, which is great for children learning letters. Having children trace the words with their finger will help them understand the shapes that form letters and words.
Writing and reading development support one another. As children become aware of print, they begin to understand that the print is what you are reading—not the pictures. They start to see print everywhere in their world and to understand that it represents meaning and the spoken word. It is also important to have your child practice scribbling even before they know how to form letters.
Try this fun activity at home to help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing. After you read a birthday book such as I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, give your child a piece of wrapping paper for your child to wrinkle, tear, bend, and fold. These motions will help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing.