Topics in Early Childhood Education

Monday, August 02, 2010

Developmentally Appropriate Fine Motor Skills

Wouldn't you know that I forgot the most important part of the discussion during my last entry about the triangular crayons. The most important part of that issue is not the crayon staying on the table, it is how the shape of the crayon will help young children develop fine motor skills.

During my 30+ years working in classrooms as a teacher and supervisor, I am continually reminded that we push young children into a corner with many activities that we plan and materials that we use. Early in my years of teaching kindergarten I re-discovered a monumental truth taught to me many years ago. Back in the 'olden days' my first grade teacher had it right. She insisted that we use large 'horse-leg' pencils during that first year of school (we didn't do much during the six-week summer preschool they called kindergarten back in the day). Mrs. Conklin seemed to know that our fine-motor skills were still in development. In keeping with that thinking as a teacher, I began using large-size crayons and pencils for the first half of the kindergarten year. Come January, I would slowly transition the children to standard-size instruments.

All I know is that my children consistently wrote, drew, painted and did everything better by the end of that school year. I felt it was one of my contributions to recognizing there are developmental stages to fine motor skills. Can young children write with regular pencils and crayons? Sure. But, I have observed children having difficulty with fine motor control. A child in that situation is encouraged practice. Perhaps instead of encouraging practice the adult should give the child more appropriate materials to use for her developmental level.

Now, these new triangular crayons and pencils can serve the same purpose. They give a slightly larger surface area and great angles for children to develop those skills.

Mrs. Conklin would be happy.



At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Cumba Siegler, MA, OTR/L said...

John, I could be wrong, but the girl shown holding the triangular pencil appears to be holding it with her thumb very close to her index finger. This does not allow the thumb to assist in manipulating the pencil/crayon to the furthest range of the fingers. There should be an "open web space" or space between thumb and index, and you should be able to see an "O" shape between those fingers. Some children need a little extra help with positioning their fingers for best use, even on those lovely triangular pencils/crayons.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked this article, nice one motor skills is one of the most important skills.


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At 11:35 AM, Blogger Sherie said...

I really agree, we push young children into a corner with many activities that we plan and materials that we use. We need to be concerned about the quality of development in each stage. Encourage each child to do thoroughly whatever it is that he or she is doing. Learning is what counts! The most effective learning comes when the child is ready, not when adults decide it's time. Keeping the child in the ready state is extremely important.

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have taught young children for about 17 years. I have never tried triangular crayons before. I can't wait to give them a try. Thanks for your article.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous sgsmith said...

This is so true. It is so important to individualize learning for all children. I have a couple of children in my preschool classroom this year that could benefit from these crayons. Are their markers shaped like that as well?

At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Gemma said...

Triangle crayons!? Where can I get hold of those? When I play toddler games with my kids I always struggle to keep control of them... lol =)

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