It is hard to believe that your baby’s first words will be about the letters they are starting to learn. However, words are often the key to learning something new. Your child will begin to associate certain letters or sounds with specific objects and concepts. For example, the letter ‘b’ may be linked to a butterfly or a flower. The letter ‘d’ may be linked to a fire engine or a dinosaur. It is up to you to start this association early and make learning fun! The following are some tips on how to teach your child to hold a writing utensil.
Put It In Their Hand Early On
Give your child a bit of an advantage by putting a small writing utensil in their hands from the very first. You may want to do this while playing with them or getting them dressed. You can work your way up to a full-size writing instrument over time, but it is better to start young. Later on, it will be easier to grasp what tools and in what way they should be used. When your child holds a writing utensil, it will feel natural for them to write with it. Even better, you can help them associate the letters with things they are already familiar with. For example, the ‘b’ could be linked to a butterfly or a hive. The ‘m’ may be linked to a mushroom or a microscope. Once you have begun the association, it will be easier to work your way up to a larger writing utensil.
Keep Them Engaged
Never underestimate the power of play. Young children naturally love playing with toys and activities that engage their minds as well as their bodies. Learning to hold a writing utensil can be a task that requires some coordination and concentration, so it is important that they remain engaged. Keep your child occupied by getting them involved in learning different tasks throughout the day. For example, you can set up a writing corner in the house where they can practice their letters. If your baby is old enough, you can even get them to sit down with a writing utensil and some paper to practice their strokes. A lot can be accomplished in the short time between sessions, so make sure that they have plenty of ‘hooks’ to keep their attention. Books are also a great way to learn while being entertained. Look for picture books that have text and work your way up to chapter books. For young children, picture books are usually easier to understand and more entertaining. However, as they get older, they may appreciate the added challenge of trying to follow the text as well as the illustrations.
Take Your Time
This tip may sound strange, but it is important that you take your time when teaching your child to hold a writing utensil. There is no rush to get a full-size writing tool in their hands before they are ready. Instead, introduce them to the letters and tools gradually. Make sure that each task is mastered before moving on to the next. Your baby will not be able to handle any pressure, so take your time and do it right. Play with your baby’s hands and feel the soft muscles. Run your fingers over their palms and notice how the skin feels. Squeeze their hands and feel how the muscles react. This may be somewhat difficult, but it is all part of the learning process. You are establishing a memory link between the finger and the object that it is pressed against. Take your time and ensure that they are holding the correct tool for the job. Once you have mastered holding a pencil, move on to the next one. Remember, it is a slow and gradual process. You do not want to overwhelm your child, so take your time.
Above all else, make sure that your child enjoys the process. You can do this by being creative and coming up with different ways of adding playfulness to the activities. For example, you can link the letters ‘b’ and ‘c’ together and have them hold a rope that is connected to a bell. If your baby does not like to have their hands held, try putting them in a basket or stroller and taking them for walks. The fresh air will do them good and allow you to continue practicing. If possible, try getting some professional help. An occupational therapist may be able to prescribe certain tools that can make the process easier for you. Even if they are not able to give specific suggestions, they may be able to provide tips on how to make the process less daunting. Creativity should never be thwarted. If you can come up with something fun and unique, chances are your baby will enjoy it. Plus, it will help you continue practicing while having fun with your baby. Creativity should never be feared. It should be encouraged and nurtured.
Learning to hold a writing utensil can be a challenge, but it is worth it. Your child will be able to look back on the experience and appreciate what they were able to accomplish. Just remember to take your time and be creative. It will all be worth it in the end!