Gross and fine motor skills form the foundation
Well developed fine and gross motor skills are an essential component of a child’s readiness to write. These skills develop sequentially. Children learn to roll before they sit. They sit before they crawl. Then, typically, children crawl before they walk or run. These large motor movements form the foundation stability required to hold their pencil later on. Next, the children develop dexterity and hand control. They learn to drop, or release, objects. They learn to play with Duplo, bricks and beads. All of these activities help children to develop the hand skills required to hold their pencil. We explore these steps further in our article on pencil grasp development. In this article, we explore some of the motor skills required for handwriting readiness and how you can help a child to develop them.
Essentials 1 – Gross motor skills
Motor skills for handwriting – Postural control and shoulder stability
Before a child can hold their pencil effectively, they need to be able to sit up. Sitting requires adequate postural control. Postural control is our ability to keep our bodies stable when we are stationary and when we move. It is essential for us to be able to use our arms, hands and fingers with good control.
Imagine a building. In order for it to stand up, there needs to be strong foundations underneath. Without strong foundations a building would fall over. Our foundation is postural control. Postural control starts developing from the moment a child is born. Initially, babies have no postural control. Their heads even need support. Over time a baby can hold their head up and then push up on their arms and roll over. Tummy time helps to develop these skills and helps with shoulder stability.
Our shoulders are the next layer of the foundation. They are like the concrete floor on a building. Our shoulders support our arms and hands, in the same way the floor supports the walls. When there is reduced shoulder stability, a child will have less control over their arms and hand.
Help a child to develop their postural control and shoulder stability
- Get off the devices and out into the playground!
- Climbing is a great way to help to improve shoulder stability.
- Swings and slides help with postural control.
- Walking, or running, up and down unstable surfaces also helps with postural control and endurance.
- Crawling is also a great way to help with shoulder stability. Tunnels can be fun but if you don’t have these, sleeping bags and duvet covers make good substitutes. Chairs and tables can also be used to make obstacle courses.
- For older children, cycling and gymnastics or martial arts are great. Martial arts and gymnastics have the added bonus of including movements using the left and right sides and both sides together.
- Free movement songs (e.g. Go Noodle) and yoga (e.g. Cosmic Kids) are also available on YouTube.