WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS, OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST, FOUNDER OF THE PRACTICAL CHILD
Handwriting skills develop long before your child picks up a pencil to scribble in pre- school . As a baby, tummy time is very important in the development of the muscles, amongst others the neck, back and shoulders as well as through the arms. The baby slowly comes up leaning through their forearms until they come up to fully extended arms
Crawling again develops the arms and shoulders and is a really important developmental milestone when it comes to using the hands and shoulders in an effective way.. Limiting time in baby walkers, baby bouncers and baby jumpers and providing lots of floor time can develop this skill. In addition to this, developing good core strength plays a key part, so from an early age encouraging your child to move is important. As a baby, get them to lie on their back and grab their toes, playing on their side and then once crawling and sitting, give lots of opportunity for movement by setting up activities such as climbing over items, going to the park and playing on the equipment, swimming and child yoga.
Hand skills again are good to develop from an early age. Grabbing rattles, playing with food, and as they grow scribbling on paper Activities such as playdoh, squeezing water from sponges and putting pegs on a washing line will encourage shoulder and hand muscles.
Here are a few more fun ideas to be thinking about:
Painting a fence with water
Crawling through tunnels
Writing on a vertical surface such as an easel
Skipping with a skipping rope
Painting and drawing on an easel