As soon as a baby is able to hold anything in his tiny little fingers, he inherits the ability to make marks. It is quite understandable that at this stage, as a parent, you have bigger developmental milestones to worry about than your baby’s future handwriting skills. Being able to write is something that we as adults take for granted, neglecting the fact that several developmental issues come into play that allows a child to even start scribbling.
Firstly, a child must learn to grasp a crayon or pencil. For this, he must develop fine motor skills and muscle strength. Secondly, hand to eye coordination is required to put the crayon or pencil to paper. Simple activities such as picking up his toys or putting food into his mouth prepare a child’s muscles for scribbling. Lastly, babies need to understand cause and effect so that they can appreciate the fact that by rubbing a marker or crayon on paper, they can make a mark. Most kids get this concept at the age of 6 to 7 months, almost at the same time that they develop object permanence.
Fortunately, there are certain activities that you can do with your baby today that will help him develop the skills required for learning how to write later on.
Picking up objects is a great way to help your baby develop muscles, improve hand to eye coordination and develop his grasping ability. Keep small things such as rattles, key chains or small toys in front of your baby and encourage him to pick them up and keep them back. In the beginning, you might have to show him how to do this. Try to use objects that make some sound, or light up, so that your baby gets excited while picking them up.
Surprisingly, reading to your baby makes a difference. It helps in developing the skills required for writing and drawing. Even though your baby will not understand a word that you are saying, listening passively has been linked to language development.
3. Show & tell
Make it a point that your child sees you write. It could be anything, from making notes to noting down grocery lists. Even though this won’t make that much of a difference when your kid is only a year old, this will help when he’s a little older. He’s more likely to focus on writing if he thinks it’s important – something that he would have learned from you.
4. Be a cheerleader
After your baby is a little older and has started scribbling, it is very very important that you encourage him at this stage. If your child scribbles something and tells you what he ‘wrote’, take it seriously. This helps him to understand that writing is an important and valuable skill.