Early writing skills can be found in a tub of rice

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My grandson is 14 months old and already he is developing his writing skills. Oh, to the untrained eye, it can look like he is “just playing” in a tub of rice but building the fine motor strength, eye-hand coordination, and pincer grip needed to write later in life starts with activities as simple as playing in a tub of rice…

This was my grandson’s very first experience in rice play.  I poured just a small scoop of rice in a tub to give him his first experience…

Once I set the tub of rice out if front of Kai, he literally dived right in….

He used his hands to push the rice around the tub…

He used his fingers to try and pick up the rice…

He tilted the tub and all the rice slid from one side to the other side of the tub…

And then he reached out with his hand and worked those fingers to grab up some more rice….

The grasping, pushing, pinching, lifting, dumping, pouring is all a part of building fine motor strength and eye-hand coordination that is ultimately needed to master writing skills when the time is right…

Rice play brings developmental benefits to preschool age children at all stages of growth. Older preschoolers will master the process of scooping and pouring as well as enjoy time with friends having conversations and social interaction….

As my grandson gets older he will be prepared for writing with writing tools but for now, it isn’t a crayon that he needs to explore – it is time to use his fine motor skills through a variety of playful experiences and opportunities….

And yes, he dumped the tray over but we just scooped it back up and started our play again as long as he was interested…

And yes, my grandson did put a fist full of rice in his mouth but then quickly decided to spit it out. I had to help him a bit with that part. Like anything a toddler will play with, you don’t just want to set it out and walk away. Instead, give them some space to explore the materials and be there to help when you’re needed…

So the next time your child is using his fingers to scoop, pinch, push, pull, pour, dump, and explore his environment – look beyond the play and at the development that is taking place and you will see that your toddler is mastering the skills needed to one day write his name, cut with scissors, and all those other fine motor tasks that are used later life. Don’t be in a hurry, development takes time but mostly it takes opportunity!

And the best opportunities come when young children are given time to play with the materials in their world…


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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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