I contributed to a joint professionals presentation on early writing. I always enjoy working as part of a multidisciplinary team; not only is it a chance to spread the word about communication needs, but also to learn from others’ expertise.
We discussed the importance of strong early steps to support later development and considered the many skills a child needs before they are ready to pick up a pencil.
Big movements (gross motor)
Crawling, lifting and carrying are all activities that develop shoulder stability. This stability provides a crucial foundation to then have control over small, intricate movements. Even a baby’s tummy time will ultimately support his writing as it builds his shoulder strength. Outdoor play provides children with lots of opportunities to develop this, whether its climbing trees, lifting stones, or rolling logs.
Small movements (fine motor)
Picking up tiny pebbles, dropping things from the high chair or swapping things between hands: these activities all help children develop the dexterity and coordination to later have close control over pencil and paper.
Listening to sounds (phonological awareness)
From a baby’s earliest days she will notice and process the sounds around her. Listening to the varied features of our speech sounds helps children develop a structure to what they hear. Playing with rhyme, clapping the beats in words and noticing the beginning sounds are all little things that help children build an increasingly elaborate understanding of how words are constructed from smaller units of sound.
Sharing ideas (expressive language)
We all like to feel confident in what we’re saying before we commit it to paper. The everyday talk that children engage in is important practice for later writing. When children tell us about their everyday activities they structure their ideas to form a simple narrative. The more often they are able to practise sharing these stories, the more ready they will be to write them down when the time comes.
There is so much involved in writing. Children develop these varied skills through their everyday experiences. So, next time your child is climbing a tree, you can be happy that she is also working towards being an excellent writer.
(Featured image from Pixabay, photographer: lourdesnique)