Handwriting Skills in Kindergarten
Let's face it, a lot more is expected of children in kindergarten these days than it was in the past. Has child development changed? No, but our standards sure have significantly increased. Students are no longer starting to learn to read in first grade, that is now a kindergarten skill. And sight words, students are memorizing those in pre-k. And what about handwriting? What are children expected to know how to do upon entering kindergarten? If your child isn't in kindergarten yet, it just might surprise you.
Long gone are the days of learning a letter a week, playing pretend in the kitchen, and an afternoon nap. Today, kindergartners are learning sight words, adding and subtracting, and writing narratives and opinion pieces. Things most certainly have changed and we need to prepare our children as best we can.
So what about handwriting? What is developmental? What should my child be doing by kindergarten? According to the article, "Relationship Between Visuomotor and Handwriting Skills of Children in Kindergarten" (Well & Amundson), "some children are taught handwriting before they acquire adequate prerequisites for handwriting skills. Children who are not ready to write may become discouraged and develop poor writing habits that could be difficult to correct later." What exactly are the prerequisites, then?
According to Beery, the developer of the Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI), children should be able to draw these nine items prior to being taught handwriting:
1. a vertical line
2. a horizontal line
3. a circle
4. a cross
5. a right oblique line
6. a square
7. a left oblique line
8. an oblique cross
9. a triangle
According to Beery, a typical child can usually master these by age 5 years, 3 months. Some children may master these earlier, and others, later.
This indicates that visual-motor skills play a crucial role in handwriting. How do we get our babies and toddlers to maximize their visual-motor development or hand-eye coordination? Easy, you start at birth. At less than one month old, you can have your baby track an item with their eyes as you move it. By four months, have your baby working on bringing both hands together (the Banana Teether is perfect for this). Be sure to work on tummy-time as soon as possible, which also enhances those visual-motor skills. Once baby is sitting on his own, bring him into the kitchen while you cook and let him explore with spoons and cups (putting the spoon in and out of the cup/bowl). As your child transitions to the toddler years, have them string beads, stack blocks, and begin to snip with scissors. All of these fine motor activities will eventually increase your child's handwriting skills.
Once in kindergarten, your child will be expected to write her name, write numbers, draw people, and shapes. Don't worry if it takes your child a little longer to grasp the skill of handwriting, there is quite a bit of variation between ages four and six.
Increasing your child's fine motor skills is easy...it's all in the bag! The OFY toddler bag includes the activity cards, which are chock-full of ideas to enhance your child's fine motor potential.