When your child hits the school system they are immediately confronted with one of the first educational milestones, developing a Pencil Grip. Many, if not all, have given this a fair crack prior to schooling, however for those of us with children uninterested in pen and paper activities this stage is not as straightforward as you thought. It is highly likely you will still be grappling with teaching this scholastic benchmark when your kids are 7, so cut yourself (and them) some slack.
At kindergarten, you may suddenly find yourself discussing Fine Motor and Gross Motor skills. What is this all about you wonder? Put plainly, the fine motor is the coordination of small muscle movements e.g. writing and drawing. Gross motor are larger movements i.e. running, jumping, throwing, kicking, lifting and sitting upright. The gross motor directly influences the fine motor, we can’t have one without the other. So get those kids moving as they will need power in their bodies to master the writing gig.
Tip 1 – Core Strength is compulsory for sitting upright. A lack of core strength will affect your child’s ability to sit up straight for extended periods of time, and this isn’t good for a school environment. Playground equipment, swimming, gymnastics and the classic baby manoeuvre tummy time will enhance the core in kids. Hang from monkey bars, climb ladders, lay on your tummy when playing and get down to the local pool.
Tip 2 – a Strong Hand Grip is required. Little kids do not have the strength to hold standard sized pens and pencils. Think big fat writing tools if you are encouraging children in the early years. Strong hands are not bestowed upon us at birth. Bring out the play dough and modelling clay. Build some Lego spaceships together. Start spraying water bottles and hose guns around the garden, your plants will love you. Bring forth the board games, ideally Operation. Let them mess with your clothes pegs, however, watch out for grubby hands.
Tip 3 – do not fret if they haven’t mastered the holy grail of pen holding, the Dynamic Tripod Grip in Kindergarten or Pre-primary. Most kids are not proficient until 6 or 7 years old, and many get by without it. Do not fret if you suddenly realise you don’t hold your pen correctly. Do not fret if your child is exhausted from the sheer thought of picking up a pencil and writing their name. And, do not fret if you find the worksheets, tip sheets, grip gadgets and online resources overwhelming. Send them back outside to play and they will conquer it another day.