GETTING READY TO WRITE
Making Marks is an important part of feeling confident in the tools and movements which will later become writing.
“Scribbles are products of a systematic investigation, rather than haphazard actions”
– John Matthews
It’s never too early for children to start the journey into developing their writing, and the gross and fine motor skills they’ll use and improve are key factors in children being able to master legible and fluent handwriting. Control of the muscles in the trunk, neck and shoulders will provide the stability required by the hands and fingers to carry out handwriting tasks and from these gross motor skills, fine motor skills will develop.
Seeing adults writing and drawing has a really positive effect on children's confidence. Talking about what you are writing and why, teaches young children both the purpose and practical ways of making marks. This might be a shopping list, card, drawing a sign of what is for dinner! Using the back of old wallpaper to squiggle and draw together is so rewarding.
When a child starts to experiment with ‘mark-making’, it’s the first step of their journey. Picking up a big thick crayon and making scribbles and lines is their first step in learning how to write, and a way in which they can express themselves freely. Mark-making doesn’t just include pens and pencils however, children can experiment with their hands, feet, pine cones or even rolling toy cars through paint. In fact, they can use anything they can think of that encourages them to be creative!
What is mark making?
Mark making simply refers to the creation of different patterns, lines, textures and shapes. This term is typically used to describe the scribbles that early years children make on a piece of paper with pens, pencils or crayons. However, mark making doesn’t just refer to squiggles made with stationery, children are still mark making if they use their hands, paintbrushes or sticks.
Mark making gives children the opportunity to express themselves and explore new materials other than pen and paper. Encourage them to create marks using their fingers to draw in the sand, paint on an easel or prod them into soft dough. Mark making isn’t just bound to the indoors either – head outside with the children to explore the natural world and take mark making to the next level! Let them drag a stick through the mud or go wild with colours with a jumbo chalk!
Why is mark making so important?
A step towards writing…
Research has shown that mark making is crucial for a child’s development and learning. It not only teaches young children how to hold a pen correctly, but it also prepares them for writing and develops their handwriting skills.
When children are making these early marks, they are practising to hold a pencil and are attempting to control their marks with their muscles. This enhances their physical development by improving their fine motor skills and helps to develop their hand-eye coordination.
Mark making can also represent a child’s thoughts and ideas. It gives children the opportunity to express themselves creatively and allows them to communicate their feelings through their drawings or even use their marks to tell a story! As they develop, their marks become more complex and sophisticated and their creativity blooms.
Brain and language development
By giving children the opportunity to explore different mediums of mark making, it engages them in sensory play and allows them to discover new exciting materials. This helps to enhance a child’s critical thinking, brain development and language development, which gives them the ability to build towards more complex learning tasks in the future. These marks can also support emerging concepts of maths, developing into mathematical representation and enhancing learning.