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How movement play can help early writing skills

This blog will examine how physical activity can help children with their early writing skills.

Before children begin to write they need to feel comfortable about putting their forearms onto a table so that they can support their hand when writing.  Some children find resting their forearms very strange and prefer to try to write with their arm up in the air which of course is not going to make for producing legible letters.

When they were smaller some children may have missed out on crawling and this is an important stage in their physical development.  Crawling as well as lots of floor play is important, as this is when children will get used to resting their forearms on a flat surface, so that when they come to sitting at a desk and begin to write it will not feel alien to them.

I must make the comment that this is only my own personal research.  When I have children in my class who struggle with their writing I make sure that they spend some time in movement play sessions crawling and they also do activities which are completed lying on the floor.

Things you can do at home to get children used to putting their forearms onto a hard surface:

  1. Have bear crawling races.  This is where you crawl but use your arms and legs to pull you forward instead of the traditional crawling on all fours.
  2. Encourage crawling through tunnels, under tables etc.  If this is hard to accommodate at home then the local soft play area is an idea exploring space.
  3. Whenever possible take activities onto the floor.   Making marks on large sheets of paper, completing jigsaws, playing games with small world figures etc.  Whilst we as adults do not find playing on the floor particulalrly comfortable, children are quite happy to spend time there if they are engrossed in an activity.

To be successful at handwriting chldren need to have secure motor control and hand-eye coordination. For some children (especially girls) this does seem to come naturally but for others (especially boys) they will need some extra support to achieve this.  One way to do this is by improving gross motor skills and in particular practising large-scale arm movements, from the shoulder.  For example, ribbon sticks, or paint brushes can be used to make big arm movements writing letters c, l, and r.  Large circles with both arms together and drawing wiggly lines on the floor are also good for improving gross motor coordination.

So instead of reaching for a pencil for your little one why don’t you first pick up a ribbon stick or have some bear crawling races?

For more information why not see our Little Movers bag which contains lots of different resources which can help to improve childrens’ gross motor skills.