The importance of motor skills in developing pre-writing abilities in toddlers

June 4, 2021

Writing is a complex cognitive task. It requires the motor skills to be able to write, the literacy skills to understand letters, words, sentences and discourse (large amounts of language), and the cognitive skills to integrate it all. 

Developing a toddler's pre-writing motor skills ensures that they can move a pencil fluently in order to construct each of the standard strokes needed to write. 

The strokes needed for letter construction are: |, —, O, +, /, square, \, X, and Δ.

The motor skills a child needs to target in order to be able to write are:

  • Hand and finger strength, as well as arm and shoulder strength
  • Hand division (using just the thumb, index and middle finger for manipulation, leaving the fourth and little finger tucked into the palm stabilizing the other fingers)
  • Pencil grasp
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Bilateral coordination (having your two hands doing different tasks where one is leading, such as using a pencil with one hand while the other hand helps by holding the writing paper)
  • Object manipulation (the ability to use a variety of tool such as pencils, paintbrushes, toothbrush, hairbrush, cutlery etc.).

Tracing can be fun for your child. But these motor heavy pre-writing skills can be developed in very non-writing ways in early learners. Play dough and threading activities target these core skills in a playful, engaging way. So does building with lego, colouring and drawing.

Join Earlybird for play dough inquiry, threading, creative colouring and other fun motor development activities! We have activities that will develop hand strength, practice pincher grasp, promote bilateral coordination, improve hand-eye coordination, master pencil control and starting learning to write their letters and names.

All our resources and evidence based activity ideas are all in one place for one affordable membership fee.

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