My child has difficulty holding a pencil or grabbing small items. How can I help her with this before she starts school?
We refer to small movements of the hands and fingers such as grasping items between fingers and thumb as fine motor skills. Kindergarten students are expected to have enough fine motor skills to be able to hold and use a pencil and cut with kid-sized scissors. In order to strengthen these skills you’ll still see some craft projects in Kindergarten. However, it’s crucial for your child to have lots of opportunities to practice these skills before school starts. This will result in your child having an easier time holding a pencil properly and as a result learning handwriting easier.
Now that I know, what can I do?
Using glue to make small dots. Draw a heart (or any shape) using small dots like a dot to dot without the numbers. Then have your child color the dots with a marker and then go over the marker dot with a dot of glue. Tell them to remember:
Anymore than that is too much glue
This will help you avoid puddles of glue!
Teach your child how to hold and use scissors properly. Draw a shape on a piece of paper and have your child practice cutting. You may want to start with straight edges first and then move into curved lines.
String beads. Get large beads from your local craft store and have your child string them onto a shoelace. Place the beads in a cup so that your child has to use their index finger and thumb to grab them.
Have your child play with small toys. Barbie and all her accessories or Legos are great toys to help your child strengthen their fine motor skills because they are small and force them to practice grasping items between their fingers and thumb.
Practice sewing and lacing. Take two pieces of construction paper and place them on top of each other. Then punch holes about an inch apart. Then give your child a shoelace or piece of yarn with a small amount of tape wrapped around the end. They can then practice lacing the string through the holes until they’ve made a pocket. You can also buy similar lacing projects at your local teacher store.
Weaving Fold a piece of construction paper in half. Beginning on the fold cut until you are a inch away from the edge of the paper. Repeat the cut every one inch. Open the paper up. Then cut long strips of construction paper and have your child weave them through the cut paper. Potholders are another great weaving project to strengthen fine motor skills.
Use tweezers or small tongs to pick up small items. Place small items such as pom poms or cotton balls on the table. Have your child use tweezers or small tongs to pick these up and place them in a bowl. Then dump them out and do them all over again.
Place cotton balls in an empty water bottle. Then have your child shake the cotton balls down towards the opening and grasp the cotton balls with their index finger and thumb. Have them repeat this until there aren’t any more cotton balls in the bottle.