Research shows that children who are well-prepared for their first year of school have a much better chance of settling in and succeeding in school, giving them a significant head start for later years. Apart from basic skills such as listening and following simple instructions, communicating their needs, they should also be able to understand and retell simple stories.

Why are writing readiness (pre-writing) skills important?

The skill of grasping the pencil in the correct manner is vital because if the child fails to do so then it leads to frustration and resistance. This is caused as the child is not able to produce legible writing.

What are Pre Writing skills?

Pre-writing skills are the fundamental skills children need to develop before they are able to write. These skills include:

1. Ability to hold and use a pencil.

2. Colour

3. Ability to do standing line- vertical line-I

4. Ability to copy sleeping line (horizontal line) ________

5. Ability to copy circle shape –O

6. Ability to do the cross shape- +

7. Ability to do the square shape-

8. Fine motor skills (strength in your child’s hand will help him write better)

9. Ability to make the triangle shape

10. Ability to do right, left diagonal lines- /

What are the building blocks necessary to develop writing readiness (pre-writing)?

1. Hand and finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers that allows the necessary muscle power for controlled movement of the pencil.

2. Crossing the mid-line: The ability to cross the imaginary line running from a person’s nose to the pelvis that divides the body into left and right sides.

3. Hand-eye coordination: The ability to process information received from the eyes to control, guide, and direct the hands in the performance of a task such as handwriting.

4. Bilateral integration: Using two hands together with one hand leading (e.g. holding and moving the pencil with the dominant hand while the other hand helps by holding the writing paper).

5. Upper body strength: The strength and stability provided by the shoulder to allow controlled hand movement for good pencil control.

6. Object manipulation: The ability to skillfully manipulate the tools (including holding and moving pencils and scissors) and controlled use of everyday tools (such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, cutlery).

7. Visual perception: The brain’s ability to interpret and make sense of visual images seen by the eyes, such as letters and numbers.

8. Hand dominance: The consistent use of one (usually the same) hand for task performance, which allows refined skills to develop.

9. Hand division: Using just the thumb, index and middle finger for manipulation, leaving the fourth and little finger tucked into the palm stabilizing the other fingers but not participating.

How does one teach basic pre-writing skills?

1. Match and sort objects: Children should be able to match and sort objects by simple attributes, such as shape, colour and function (e.g. food, clothes, things you can cook with). To help your child sort, you need at least two different types of objects. Start with fewer categories (sorting by two types) and gradually progress to three, four or more. Slowly demonstrate each sort before asking your child to have a go.

2. Identify basic patterns, shapes and colours: Help your child point out patterns when you’re out together (e.g. in clothing, along a footpath, in a picture) and turn it into a fun game. Hang up colour and shape charts at home and let your child experiment with watercolors, crayons, blocks and play dough or clay to get familiar with colours and shapes.

3. Identify some numbers and understand how numbers are used: Show your child how numbers are used in everyday activities, like following a recipe, keeping score during a game, or counting, measuring and weighing objects.

4. Letters stand for the sounds heard in words: Games like letter races, matching rhymes and phonics hopscotch are all great ways to build your child’s understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds.

5. Begin to identify some sight words: Hands-on Sight Word Activities – Young children love moving things around with their hands, so ask your child to make sight words out of playdough, magnets on the fridge, or building blocks. If you’re at the beach, let them try tracing a sight word in the sand. These fun activities will keep your child interested and help them commit to memory the spelling of sight words.

6. Identify and match letters with sounds: By the time they start school, most children know some letters and should be able to identify words that rhyme. This is an indicator of – a key aspect of learning to read.

7. Dress and feed themselves: You would want your child to get ready and eat his meal by himself. This is a step to becoming independent. Hence, it’s vital such a skill be learnt through practice.

8. Recognizing their own name: Your child should be able to state their first and last name. They should be able to recognise their own labelled belongings.

9. Use the toilet independently: Children need to be fully toilet trained to start formal schooling. This includes flushing the toilet and washing their hands properly. Good hygiene practices can be seen in children as young as two and are extremely important life skills to learn.

Listening Skills:

1. Listens to and follows instructions

2. Understands directions- one step and two directions. For example, “Pick up your toy and put it in the box” is a two-step direction.

3. By listening to a story they should be able to work on the story independently.

Speaking skills:

1. Speaks clearly.

2. Able to communicate their needs effectively. For example, they communicate to the teacher or the parent for food, water, going to the toilet and play.

3. Relates experiences with a clear understanding of the sequence of events.

4. Encouraged to speak and can talk with their peers, teachers and parents.

Hence, pre-writing skills are a variety of skills which need to be addressed before your child enters school.