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A 'Write' Start

Preparing your child to use a pencil

Learning how to use a pencil can be an awesome task for a preschooler. That rascally No. 2 can seem long and unwieldy to a tiny hand. Plus, preschoolers are still developing their fine motor skills, a key requirement to learning how to take a pencil to the page. But with a few mindful hand strengthening and dexterity activities, parents can put some "lead" in their children's learning and help them become more comfortable as they learn how to write.

Squeezing

Have your child …

  • Squeeze the water out of wet sponges
  • Squeeze small exercise balls
  • Use spray bottles or water guns
  • Scoop up and squeeze sand
  • Scrunch up newspaper

Strengthening

Have your child …

  • Play games such as tug-of-war
  • Swing on the monkey bars
  • Lay on his or her tummy and hold up a book with forearms
  • Walk on his or her hands in wheelbarrow style

Dexterity

Have your child …

  • Play with small blocks
  • Use tweezers with index finger and thumb to pick up and move small cotton balls from one place to another
  • Place spring-type clothespins on a string
  • Make small pea size balls out of play dough by using only the thumb and index finger

Doing all three

Art projects not only help your children grow creatively, they also can help them improve their fine motor skills and coordination. Tearing small pieces of paper and glue into a collage, for instance, increases dexterity and helps with hand-eye coordination. Tearing and scrunching up small pieces of colored tissue paper and gluing onto a picture is a fun activity that can help with those skills, too.

You could also allow your children to use a hole-puncher on construction paper and use the tiny circles to make whatever they want. Let them pick up the circles with tweezers and make a rainbow collage. Even everyday fingerpainting is another wonderful way for kids to exercise finger skills. Trace shapes, numbers, letters and designs onto their paper for them to fill in with paint to increase the need for attention to detail.

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