Today’s guest post about fine motor skills is a great reminder that we should focus every so often on the basics to make sure our students are really understanding the fundamentals about writing.  It’s not just about the content or the style, but also about the skill or writing.  ~EMP

Learning to write effectively is a vital skill, one that will be important throughout a person’s entire life for the clear expression of ideas. However, a child that struggles with the development of fine motor skills may find it difficult to learn how to write at all. Of course, there are many other reasons why improving a child’s fine motor skills is important as well. If one of your students is having trouble in this area, you can help them along their journey towards better handwriting with several different strategies.

The Importance of Fine Motor Skills

As you probably already know, fine motor skills do not only apply to writing. They make it possible for a child’s hands to perform countless intricate tasks that would be nearly impossible without trained muscles. Learning to write, however, is one of the earliest tasks a child must learn that relies on these motor skills. After a child hones his or her fine motor skills, they will be able to hold a writing utensil and perform all of the movements required to create legible handwriting. This is an ability that most adults take for granted, but learning it can often be a struggle for a small child.

Developing a Child’s Fine Motor Skills

Developing fine motor skills is really just a matter of fine-tuning muscles and increasing precision and accuracy when it comes to performing delicate, small tasks with the hands. Making the hands stronger will make any task easier that requires this accuracy and precision. You can work with a child who is experiencing difficulties or delays with developing their fine motor skills in several different ways to help them improve.

Pencil Positioning

One of the first exercises that can immensely help a child with improving their motor skills is simply teaching them to properly hold a pencil. One of the most common reasons children often have trouble developing their motor skills is because they are not sure of how to properly handle their writing utensil. Hold a pencil yourself and give one to the child. Do not focus on writing or any other type of exercise that involves paper. Simply work with them on getting the correct placement down to use the pencil properly.

Tactile Training

Put the pencil away for this activity. On a sanitary surface, spray a handful of shaving cream and rub it into a thin layer. Tell the child to use their finger to write words into the foam. Although this does not train them in pencil technique, it does help them learn to control their hand while forming letters and words. Your next item of business is to give them an activity where they trace letters and numbers on sandpaper with their finger. Once they feel comfortable with the feel of the motion, give them their pencil and have them trace the same letters and numbers on paper. Stress to them that time is not of importance. This ensures that they do not feel rushed to complete the work, and can concentrate on shaping the letters properly.

Author Bio:

Sarah Rawson contributed this guest post. Sarah is tutoring for various Master of Education programs. Sarah is also a freelance writer. She has a penchant for all things to do with learning skills.

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