Is writing becoming a skill of the past? 5 ways to help your little ones develop their fine motor skills

Mar 30, 2018 | Read time: 2 mins

Mar 30, 2018 | Read time:


Books have turned into kindles, games are being played on iPads, and even spending time with friends has become virtual. Welcome to the digital age! In this dynamic digital era, is there any value or importance of more traditional habits – specifically writing?

An article on BBC News quotes Sally Payne, head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but, increasingly, they are not able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills.” Shocking, isn’t it?

There is no denying that children’s habits are changing, but the fundamental need for activities that help developing fine motor skills should not be done away with. While it may be easier to engage children in screen time, it is more beneficial to them if they spend time engaged in muscle-building exercises.

An activity as easy (to you and me, and every other grown human) as holding a pencil uses many of our fine muscles to grip the pencil and move it. Repeatedly practicing writing also develops the muscle memory associated with gripping and finger/wrist movement.

Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday life skills like brushing, fastening and unfastening buttons, opening boxes, moving objects etc. They are also essential for various academic skills such as cutting and pasting, drawing and colouring etc. Without optimal development of fine motor skills, children may find it difficult to develop appropriate independence in life skills later on in life.

How to identify whether your little one needs more support with fine motor skills?

If your little one struggles with fine motor skills, they might exhibit the following traits:

  • Lollipop style pencil grip after the age of 7
  • Disinterest towards colouring/writing skills
  • Have difficulty when using scissors
  • Find it difficult to perform precise manipulation tasks like fastening buttons or tying shoelaces
  • Dislike precise hand-eye coordination tasks like building blocks
  • Leave the task halfway when engaged in fine motor tasks

How can you help your little one hone their fine motor skills?

# Focus on Pre-writing skills

Pre-writings skills not only help in development of writing but also stimulate the front part of brain which focuses on analytical skills like reasoning and logic.

The best way to support your child in writing is to focus on pre-writing skills right from infancy. Newspaper tearing, pasting, finger tracing, air formations of alphabets are some examples of pre-writing skills. Find a prep school for your child which has elements of pre-writing skills as integral part of the curriculum.

# Writing is Progressive

Writing is an ever-evolving process and as a parent, you should allow the child to make choices in writing. Hand dominance and correct grip of pencil take time to evolve. Over-correcting your child while writing is detrimental. For your understanding, look at the picture below:

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