We often take for granted the everyday skills a child needs when they begin kindergarten! School transition can be an even bigger adjustment for children who haven’t developed “fine motor skills.” (This is just a fancy term for use of hands.) Fine motor skills refer to the small muscles in our hands and fingers that are required to do big work every day.
Your child will need to develop the muscles required to color, cut, paste, and hold a pencil. Summer can be a great time to work on these skills and build muscles they’ll need for school.
You may be surprised by how simple it is to set up a small area with learning supplies in your home, even if you live in a small space. Your child will love having their very own school spot during the summer, and even after school begins.
Here are 6 simple ideas to get you started:
1. Find a place in your home where you can set out a few uncomplicated supplies.
You can use a coffee table, a card table, or simply keep a shoebox of supplies on your kitchen table. This doesn’t need to cost money or require anything new.
2. Gather items that you may already have around the house.
This might include scrap paper, crayons, pencils, safety scissors, or Legos. You can even include a baggie of Cheerios and a shoestring. Stringing Cheerios, Fruit Loops, or beads on a string is great for building fine motor skills because it requires children to pinch with their fingers, the same motion needed for using a pencil.
3. Let your child scribble, color, and practice writing his or her name
Here’s a simple way for a child to practice name writing:
– Print his name on a piece of paper with a pen.
– Let him trace his name over and over again.
4. Practice holding a pencil correctly.
Many children struggle to hold a pencil correctly when they begin school. This short video provides a great visual and song that will help!
Let your child try different writing instruments for learning this new skill: crayons, washable markers, and different sized pencils. When children are learning how to hold a pencil, you may find that shorter, skinnier pencils are easier than using bigger “beginner” pencils.
5. Practice cutting with safety scissors.
If you don’t already have safety scissors, they can be purchased at the dollar store. After you’ve taught your child how to use the scissors, give them scrap paper and let them enjoy cutting strips and shapes of paper. Old magazines and newspapers will work too. If you don’t mind the mess of Play-Doh, your child can roll out the dough and cut strips with safety scissors.
Having fun with scissors allows their muscles to “get in shape” for this skill that they will need every day in kindergarten. If they’ve never used scissors before, it will take patience and practice.
6. Let them have as much free time as possible at their learning station.
Working with their fingers and hands will help to strengthen your child’s muscles, making them better prepared for the daily tasks of kindergarten.
It also encourages creativity and allows them to practice skills like focusing on a task, cleaning up after themselves, and sorting.
Children begin kindergarten at different readiness levels and this is okay! When you provide your child with a head start on the daily skills they’ll need – like using scissors and pencils – it will make learning exciting and fun, instead of exhausting and frustrating.
This is the fifth of 8 posts this summer that will help your child get ready for kindergarten. Thanks for sharing with other parents of rising kindergartners who may benefit!
You’ll also enjoy the other posts in this series: