Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coloring Pages and Fine Motor Skills

We've been doing some "formal" handwriting study these past few weeks. It's true that this particular area of study is not so much child-led, since it comes from me noticing Willow struggle through writing something, only to end up frustrated that it took SO much work and was absolutely illegible, and taking the lead to insist that it's time. As a seven-year-old who's been reading since she was five, it's obviously been clear for years that her handwriting needs work, but she's never wanted to, and I've never pushed--until now. I'm feeling that now is finally the appropriate time, however, because when I did insist, Will did not argue.

My Will. Did not argue. The child who will throw a huge tantrum when I insist that she wear pants to the grocery store, or stop reading so that we can get ready to go to the ice cream shop, did not throw a tantrum about weeks and weeks of daily handwriting practice. Amazing and illuminating to behold, that is.

It's quite possible that Will simply didn't possess the level of fine motor skills necessary to pursue neat handwriting until recently, and pushing her would have been much more frustrating (for everyone!) and taken much longer to accomplish than it will now, when she's clearly mentally and physically ready. If she had been in public school, imagine how unhappy she and her kindergarten and first grade teachers would have been with each other!

I'll save the actual handwriting for another day (although if you're curious, I'm doing it myself and using Startwrite 6.0 to create custom copywork). What I wanted to tell you is that in addition to the copywork, I'm sneaking into the girls' days lots and lots of drawing--

--and lots and lots of coloring pages:

The kids are both thrilled about it because every day, they can tell me what kind of coloring pages they want--horses, dangerous mythical beasts, cats and dogs and unicorns!--and I'll find them online and print them out. For whatever reason, the kids haven't asked for and I haven't strewn coloring pages in a while, so they're novel again, and apparently hugely enjoyable, because the kiddos whip out pages and pages and pages each day.

Coloring pages? They're fine motor practice. My Syd, who's been scribbling with a perfect tripod grip since she could hold a chubby crayon, and has had neater handwriting than Willow for years now, colors in each little section with precision, but I've long noticed that Will prefers to paint great swaths of colors across the page, nearly regardless of borders and guiding lines. I've never pointed it out to her, but I've gradually noticed over the past few weeks, as we've been doing both handwriting copywork, drawing lessons with Daddy (more on that later, too), lots and lots of coloring pages, and also lots of these  that I purchased back when Sydney was a toddler who didn't know her numbers up to ten (vastly easy for the children now, and yet they still come back into favor every now and then), that her coloring in has become more precise. Her work isn't yet what you would call "inside the lines," but it's approximately so, these days, and her crayon movements are shorter, closer together, and more conscious of detail.

Mentally and physically ready for detail, my kid. We're also starting book reports this week, because when you're ready for detail, you're ready to perform critical analysis, mwaa-ha-ha!


Tina said...

We have that same horse coloring page! We like to print 4 pictures to a page (typically cardstock) and then I set Emma loose with the Sharpies. When she is done, the pictures make great postcards!

Or they can be used as a cover for journal, or a bookmark, etc.

It can be hard balancing what children are ready to learn and what people feel they "need" to learn. Lucky for us, we don't much care for what other people think :)

julie said...

Google Images saves the day, right? I like the four-to-a-page idea! I often use completed coloring pages to package etsy purchases that I'm shipping out, as a little local color.