Is a question EYFS teachers are often asked and it’s normally a difficult one to answer quickly! To many, writing is the process of putting pencil to paper to create letters and words. But, to an EYFS teacher it is about all of the hard work that goes into making sure children’s bodies and minds are ready to control that fiddly little pencil!
Think about it – pretend to hold a pencil and write, notice the muscles you use in order to do this. Children need to develop their muscles right from their core so sit up straight, to their shoulder to control their arm, through their elbow, wrist pivot and finally onto the individual parts of the fingers – phew! The good news is that there are many exciting ways of developing these muscles, none of which involve the picking up of a pencil!
Through years of practice we are able to tell which part of the body the child needs to develop first (see ABCDoes for lots more info on this) but generally a child needs to be able to carry out gross motor movements – large movements using the body and arms from the shoulders, before they can move onto the smaller, more intricate fine motor skills needed for writing.
Gross motor skills are developed by using large implements such as brooms, spades, and large paintbrushes. Try squirting washing up liquid into the floor outside and getting your child to work up a foam using a full size broom! Children who are developing their gross motor skills should also be encouraged to draw and paint at their own height, so a chalkboard on the wall or on a tripod would be encouraged.
Once children are strong enough in the shoulders and elbows they can begin to develop their fine motor skills. Try pegging clothes pegs on a line or, when it snows, fill a water sprayer with food colouring and water and encourage your child to colour the snow by spraying the water.
The lists for developing these skills are endless including
climbing frames and riding a bike, that is why at Ermine Primary Academy our Reception children are taking part in the Balanceability scheme.
If you would like some more ideas to develop your child’s pre-writing skills please speak to their teacher who will be happy to help.