Let's face it. When's the last time you were complimented for buttoning your shirt at work? It may feel distant now, but there was a time when slipping that tiny button through the hole in the fabric wasn't quite so simple.
Most adults take mastery of their fine motor skills for granted. The more meticulous sibling of gross motor skills, fine motor skills involve coordinating movements of complex muscle groups in the hands, wrists, and fingers with the will of our mind.
Buttoning a shirt, latching a zipper, and holding a pen are basic fine motor skills we often execute without thinking. These are learned skills that come only with countless practice sessions. However, by the time students reach kindergarten, they are expected to have developed a mastery of several fine motor skills.
Our complete Pre-K program, Get Set for School®, weaves fine motor skill-building activities throughout cross-curricular lessons that prepare students for kindergarten and beyond. But this has been a turbulent school year. Not everyone had the opportunity for a hands-on Pre-K classroom experience. How can you know if a student is ready for Pre-K or kindergarten? Try our free, easy-to-administer Pre-K screeners that help identify the key skills children know and can do, ensuring they're on track for success in the classroom.
Whatever your students' current abilities, here are five skills they should strive to master before starting kindergarten.
By age four, most children should be resting their elbow on the table and begin using their hand muscles to perform the movements that lead to writing letters. Shorter pencils and crayons are easier for their little hands to manipulate.
Further Practice: FLIP Crayons® are the perfect size for encouraging proper grip skills that will seamlessly translate to larger pencils and pens when children are ready.
2. Name Writing in Title Case
Being able to write their name is a vital step in a student's classroom experience. It's required for personalizing their work and art but knowing how to write their name also increases a student's conceptual and procedural knowledge.
Further Practice: These Color Name Plates are designed to be displayed on desks, lockers, or cubbies. Use these visual aids to help teach children how to write their names.
Extra Credit: Watch occupational therapist Cathy Van Haute OTR/L walk a student through name writing practice using some of our materials.
3. Letter Formation
Learning how to correctly write your ABCs isn’t just important to participate in the classroom, it can lead to better grades. Research published in the Journal of Early Childhood Education and Development has shown a positive correlation between better handwriting skills and increased academic performance in reading and writing.
Further Practice: Get a proven way to learn pre-writing skills, and letter and number formations in My First Book Set.
Extra Credit: The Wet-Dry-Try app for iPad brings handwriting lessons to life, helping reinforce letter and number formations with fun games and activities.
4. Number Formation
By kindergarten, students should know how to write the number formations of 0-9, unlocking the endless possibilities they'll encounter in math lessons.
Further Practice: Get our time-tested letter and number formation charts for free. Print them out and have your students practice them in the mornings as a solid routine to start the day.
Extra Credit: These Capital and Number Practice Strips help Pre-K children write capitals and numbers using correct placement and proportion.
5. Use of Scissors
Being able to successfully manipulate scissors is a fantastic test for children’s fine motor abilities. It’s also not something that comes easy for all students, particularly if they lack the necessary hand muscle strength. But that’s what practice is for!
Further Practice: Give your students a hand workout by printing and cutting out these Mat Man birthday cutouts, which your students can then decorate and personalize with their choice of colors.
Extra Credit: Build intrinsic hand muscle strength and coordination with activities that incorporate tongs. Let them move assorted tiny objects from one container to the other. You may find yourself getting pulled into this fun activity.
Whew—that’s a lot of skill-building! Not sure where to begin? Get suggestions for practicing all of these skills and more with our free fine motor and letter practice worksheet. Our extensive blog is also filled with excellent lesson ideas you can easily incorporate into your classroom.
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