Note: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of professional treatment or diagnosis from a doctor, therapist, or other expert.
Are you worried about your child’s handwriting or maybe even their strong dislike for writing or even coloring? Developing a child’s fine motor muscles in their hand can be a way to help support our children with their handwriting.
It’s important to remember, that our children aren’t done growing and their hands, especially if they’re under the age of 7, aren’t fully developed and therefore won’t have the physical ability to write, color, or hold a crayon in the same way you and I can. You may have seen this image floating around on the internet showing an x-ray of a child under the age of 5 (on the right) and the hand of a child around the age of 7 (on the left). This picture shows what we can't see: the bones aren't fully developed in the hand.
Try turning your child's hand over and looking at their palm. Compare the palm of their hand to yours. The center of their palm may be more rounded than caved in like an adults hand, especially if they're under 5. Those are muscles, the palmar arches, that aren’t fully strengthened and developed yet. As that muscle becomes stronger and your child grows it will slowly look more and more like an adults hand or caved in. To help our children, to be ready for writing, we can lay the foundation now.
But, the very best way to help them is actually NOT by writing and coloring more or by doing letter writing work. The best way to help them is to give them activities they need to do with their hands. One of my favorite ways to encourage kids to strengthen the muscles in their hands is to let them play with play dough. Encourage your child to squeeze, pinch, and roll play dough. If you have the Fall Sensory Kit, you can try making the smallest pumpkin possible and then the largest pumpkin possible with the pumpkin spice sensory dough that is included with the kit. They can roll the dough out like a snake with their hands, thus pressing on the muscle in the center of their hand, and then create a design with the rolled dough or use the spoon to cut the dough into pieces. Anything they can come up with that has them using their hands will help to strengthen those important muscles in their hands thereby helping them write and color when they’re ready.
For more great information about Fine Motor Development and great activities you can do with your kids check out the the Elevating Early Childhood podcast episode 17.
For more information about handwriting development in the early years check out this great resource "Handwriting Development in the Early Years- Is Age 4 Too Early?"