A few weeks ago, we posted a question from our reader, Renee, in our Facebook community.
We received many comments, and one in particular was really helpful! When Meagan F. wrote, she had wonderful advice that her friend had shared with her. Talk about paying it forward! We asked Meagan to share her friend's advice in more detail and have three fantastic ideas to help with reluctant readers to share with the community. What ideas would you add to these?
1. Use multiple senses, and let kids' fingers do the work...even if it's not officially writing.
Try pouring salt or sugar into a tray, and asking your child to trace the letters with his/her finger. If your child is willing to grip a pencil and "write" onto the tray, that's terrific, and simply using a finger is also a good option. At this stage, kids are really getting to know the shape and feel of letters. If you use a larger container, the child will be able to write his/her complete name or other words. Another option in the finger-realm is "clean" finger painting. Try filling a Ziploc bag with paint, or even hair gel and glitter (pictured here). Then, the child will use a finger to "write" letters onto the bag. If you aren't afraid of a little mess, it can also be fun to actually use paint or shaving cream on a table or flat surface.
2. Expand your definition of a writing utensil!
Thought Q-tips were just for cleaning out dirty scrapes and noses? Think again. Cotton swabs are perfect for little hands to grip easily. Try using the cotton swab as a paint brush of sorts to trace letters, either using small dots or more continuous strokes. In either case, the child is still understanding the shape and feel of the letter. You can also dip the cotton swab in glue, and then provide your little one with a variety of decorations to add to each letter. Consider decorations that are related to the letter. For example, if you glue paint the letter "y," use yellow puff balls to decorate, reinforcing the sound of the letter.
3. Put away the pencils. Get out the scissors.
As children develop their fine motor skills, they are truly building new muscles in their hands. Writing is one way to exercise those muscles. Cutting is another way for children to build them, and focus on shapes. If your child isn't interested in using a pencil or crayons right now, there are other options. For the vast majority of kids, that comes.
At this point, it is most important to keep kids excited about learning and writing, and to make sure that they perceive this work as being fun. If they like it, they will keep doing it!