Early physical development.
Development of gross motor control and fine motor control alongside hand-eye coordination are pre-requisites to learning to write. Each morning at Wood Bank School children engage in physical activity, appropriate to their needs, to develop these skills. For some children, this may mean using equipment to support their lower limbs and trunk whilst engaging in fun gross motor exercise or physiotherapy exercise of their upper body and limbs – encouraging greater body awareness, engagement, communication through movement, gross motor control and hand-eye coordination. High-interest objects, materials and toys will be shared, encouraging children to grasp, handle and explore using hands and fingers – as well as other senses.
Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are encouraged through exploration of different textures, plucking, posting, throwing, catching etc. For other children a more typical route to development of pre-writing skills will be undertaken and children will be offered daily and continual opportunities for supported play with manipulatives that focus upon hand-eye coordination and develop fine motor skills for example: sand and water play, messy play, manipulation of malleable materials, painting with fingers and varied tools, gluing, sticking, cutting, sprinkling, mixing, pegging, posting, finger puppet games and so on. Play with construction toys, sequencing activities, small world toys, functional play and role play all play their part in encouraging pre-writing skills.
Demonstration that a child’s writing is becoming emergent will be capitalised upon and bridges between free play and the more formal learning of handwriting and writing will see children encouraged to use a finger to draw and write in materials such as sand/paint, to thread beads, complete jigsaw and matching games, establish a dominant hand, begin to establish a tripod grip to hold painting and writing tools, use a keyboard, draw pictures with meaning to them, draw pictures which are recognisable to others, trace pictures and shapes, gain awareness that letters can be arranged to form words, finger trace letters and words in books, organise letters and numbers in lines, air write, scribble write names, labels, lists, messages, rhymes and stories. At this stage the Nelson Handwriting Scheme is used across the school, providing a consistent approach to the teaching of handwriting. This is a new scheme which has been written in line with Letters and Sounds and which also addresses handwriting expectations as outlines in the 2014 National Curriculum.