Writing is a complex task which requires different skills as such motor skills, perceptual skills and cognitive skills. Pre-schoolers participate in various activities to help them to be ready for formal writing instruction. These skills essential for learning to write are called pre-writing skills.
Pre-Writing Strokes Developmental Stages
|6 – 9 Months||Mouths crayons, crumples paper|
|1 – 1.5 Years||Bangs crayon on paper|
|Scribbles in horizontal, vertical and circular directions|
|2 – 3 Years||Imitates horizontal, vertical and circular strokes|
|3 – 4 Years||Copies horizontal, vertical lines and circle|
|Imitates cross +|
|4 – 5 Years||Copies cross +, right oblique line, square, left oblique line, and oblique cross|
|5 – 6 Years||Copies triangle and diamond|
Alphabets and numbers are made up of the various strokes listed in the table above e.g. the letter “A” is made up of 2 oblique lines and a horizontal line. Mastering these strokes therefore set a good foundation for children to progress to formal writing.
Pre-writing activities can be fun! Use a variety of materials that stimulate the child’s various senses when teaching pre-writing strokes.
Good gross and fine motor skills are necessary for writing. Examples of such skills include the ability to hold the body upright whilst seated, the ability to move the fingers independent of the wrist, forearm and shoulder, the ability to grasp the pencil with an efficient pencil grip, and the ability to use both hands together.
Various fun gross and fine motor activities can be in-cooperated into a young child’s daily routine to help him/her develop the motor skills necessary for formal writing instruction at a later stage.
Colouring is a great pre-writing activity. The child learns about form, shape, size, and direction as he/he colours. When a colour colours, he/she is also working on attention, crayon grip, control (learning to colour within the boundaries, and paper pressure), posture, strength, endurance, and finally, the use of the helper hand.
The child can perform drawing/colouring activities in various positions other than sitting at the desk. These positions help to strengthen key gross motor muscles. Some examples are:
Klein, M. D. (1990). Pre-Writing Skills. Arizona: Communication Skills Builders.
Olsen, J.Z. and Knapton, E.F. (2018). Readiness & Writing Pre-K Teacher’s Guide. USA: Get Set for School.
Ms Eunice Hoh-New
Senior Occupational Therapist