Getting Handsy

When our oldest started reading basic “Cat in the Hat”-type books at 2 years of age and progressed quickly to reading on a grade school level by 3, well, we weren’t really sure what to think. He was our first, after all, so we didn’t have any prior experience with these kind of things. “Maybe all kids enjoy reading the local newspaper at age three, honey! How would we know!?”

I wrote about Wito’s emerging literacy a few times, and received all sorts of helpful comments and advice regarding early readers. One email really stuck with me, though. It was from a woman who worked in early education, and she suggested that we might want to be mindful in regards to Wito’s fine motor skills.

Turns out, children that start reading well ahead of the average age may present issues with drawing, writing, or other fine motor skills down the road. I filed that email away and carried on. Over the next few years, Wito continued to read everything he could get his hands on, devoured flash cards, and loved any type of memory game. Not on the agenda, though, were any sort of art projects, crafts, drawing or painting. I tried over and over, but he just didn’t have any interest whatsoever, so we didn’t push it.

Well, fast forward to age 5. Wito started kindergarten and, you guessed it, has some challenges in the handwriting department. Gripping the pencil and writing seems to be harder for him than the other children, and manipulating things like Playdoh is a new concept to him. Luckily, Wito has such an enthusiasm about learning that he doesn’t seem to get too frustrated, and I’ve already seen great advances in his ability over the past month, as well as a newfound interest in art projects and the like. (Thanks be to his wonderful kindergarten teacher!)

Wito’s teacher and I agree that supplementing his schoolwork with some fun exercises and projects around the home would be greatly beneficial, and that is where you come in, friends. Do you have any tried and true tips on working with fine motor skill development in children? Any fun games or programs that have worked for you in the past? I’ve heard a little about Handwriting Without Tears – any experience with that program? I’d love to hear what has (and has not) worked for you and your little ones. Wito and I thank you!

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