Reading and writing go together. Scribbling and writing help children learn that written words stand for spoken language. Fingerplays, action rhymes, and playing with toys help develop hand muscles which help children get ready to hold writing implements.
Babies & Young Toddlers
- Encourage activities that help with the “pincer grasp.” The pincer grasp helps children use their thumb and index finger to pick up items, which will help with holding a pen or pencil in the future. Try placing safe foods like a soft banana, dry cereal like cheerios, or cooked carrot, near them, and have them reach to pick them up.
- Get messy while eating! Draw with yummy yogurt, make a masterpiece with baby food, or snack on squishy food. As your child gets older, eating solid foods with their fingers helps develop fine motor skills too!
- Provide soft toys for your child to squish and maneuver, or blocks to stack. These activities help to strengthen hands and fingers and work on hand-eye coordination that will help with future writing skills.
- Blow bubbles! Encourage your little one to follow the bubbles with their eyes or try to pop the bubbles while you hold the wand still. As they get older, they can try popping the bubbles with their hands. This helps develop eye tracking skills, develops gross motor skills (big movements), small motor skills (small movements), and strengthens hand-eye coordination which are all important when reading and writing.
- Scribbling is the beginning form of writing. Provide safe tools, like crayons or safe paint, and let your child see their actions on paper. Talk to your child about what they drew or “scribbled” so they begin to understand that random marks can represent ideas or meanings.
Older Toddlers & Preschool Children
- Ask your child draw a picture, and then have them tell you about what they drew. Suggest to them to try and draw three pictures: one beginning, middle, and end. This also helps strengthen hand-eye coordination, and encourages narrative skills when they are describing their drawing.
- Try playing with play dough, and have your child make shapes, along with letters and numbers. This will introduce them to writing along with increasing hand-eye movement, and large and small motor skills.
- Have your child trace shapes, numbers, and letters with finger paint, in the sand, or with shaving cream. This strengthens hand-eye coordination which are important when reading and writing.
Check out our Early Literacy Tips series of blog posts here for additional activities to get your child ready to read.