Saturday, January 12, 2008

Developing Your Toddler''s Writing Skills

The process of learning to write begins with simple circles and lines. By the time your child reaches his first birthday, you should encourage him to color with crayons. Scribbling with crayons not only helps to develop the fine motor skills used in writing, simple scribbles will soon turn to a series of the lines and circles used to form letters. Provide your toddler with coloring books as well as plain paper and avoid sharp pens and pencils until your child is older.

Painting, especially with finger paint, can also help develop your toddlers writing skills. The Galt kid-friendly easel will give your child an opportunity to paint like the pros and it, along with a plastic art apron, will minimize messes. Painting with a brush or with fingers strengthens small muscles and allows children to express themselves creatively. As your child advances, encourage him to paint lines, circles, and arcs. Another fun activity is to write his name in really large letters across the paper and let him trace the letters with finger paints.

Books are another important activity that enhances all areas of language skills and development. Read to your child each day and follow the words with your finger. Talk to your child on a regular basis as well. Constant exposure to language in a variety of different forms enhances the development of writing, speaking, and reading skills. Reading and conversation both give children a general understanding of grammar and sentence structure, skills needed later in writing.

To develop fine motor skills needed to control a pencil, try involving your child in art activities that involve tearing paper. Give him a variety of colored paper, tissue paper, or construction paper to tear in small pieces. Tearing strengthens small finger muscles and usually delights small children. Using a glue stick, let your toddler paste his paper scraps to make a picture. Green tissue paper can be scrunched into small pieces and glued around the outside ring of a paper plate for a beautiful holiday wreath. Your child can even add scraps of red tissue for berries.

Always supervise your toddlers art or coloring activities. At this age most children have a tendency to put things in their mouths so choose non-toxic paints and glues. Also set firm rules regarding coloring, gluing, and painting only on paper. Little ones are often tempted to spread their masterpiece to the floor or the wall. Washable crayons and paints will minimize stains and smocks or aprons will protect clothing.

If your child seems interested, begin tracing large uppercase letters with crayons or paint. Never force a toddler or preschooler to practice writing. Your child will appreciate learning more if he enjoys it and wants to learn. You may try more enjoyable activities to introduce the letters. Print an uppercase letter on a piece of cardstock or construction paper and let your toddler glue objects onto the outline of the letter. You can even us this activity to help to develop phonics skills by using objects that begin with that letter, like dry beans for the letter B or cereal for C.

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