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Encouraging a three year old boy to use pens/pencils/crayons

(12 Posts)
drjohnsonscat Thu 07-Mar-13 13:04:27

3.5 yo DS is in nursery and really enjoying it. Despite him being the youngest in his year I don't have any concerns about him socially at all and he's kind of holding his own "academically" (wrong word for a 3.5 yo but I just mean language and letters and counting). He'll be the youngest in Reception when he goes in September. I think he'll be fine but I'd like to encourage him a bit with pens and pencils. He doesn't really spend time colouring and what he does at school I can tell is his least favourite part of the day. Lots of other children enjoy "mark-making" and are making quite a lot of progress with their dexterity and he really isn't interested.

I've tried lots of colouring books and painting and messing around with pens but he hasn't really taken to it. My daughter was a bit the same until she went to nursery and then she really got into it and still spends hours colouring and drawing. This is not a boys v girls thing - he's perfectly happy sitting and "reading". It's not that he'd rather climb a tree. He just doesn't seem to know why he would want to use pens or crayons.

Are there other fun toys I could give him that would be more interesting for him in this area? I'm not trying to get him writing btw! Just having fun with colouring and marks on the paper.

SavoirFaire Thu 07-Mar-13 20:19:00

Getting an easel made a big difference with my previously disinterested 3 year old. We also have a megasketcher which DS loves. Before his third birthday he had literally never considered trying colouring in, but these things (and me probably offering it as an option a bit more) and he started to be more interested in crayons and colouring. More recently I've also got an ipad app called something like iWW (i write words?) where he goes over letters / numbers with a finger. He has been more interested in replicating this with a pen since, although I worry a bit about him picking up bad habits because it's obviously not the same as holding a pen and he tends to use his non-writing hand confused.

insancerre Sun 10-Mar-13 11:40:55

he doesn't need to use pencils yet.
he needs to develop the larger shoulder and arm muscles before he develops fine motor control
the fine bones in the hand are not fully formed till about 7, which is why children struggle with handwriting before then
activities like kneading playdough, threading, painting with large domestic sized paintbrushes, building with lego bricks are all that he needs at the moment to develop these muscles

EllieNW3 Sun 10-Mar-13 17:54:23

I was also recommended to use play dough to strengthen the muscles in my daughter's hands when she started at nursery at 3.5 and wasn't very good at pen control or cutting with scissors. The teacher said to use slightly harder play dough so that the child really needs to 'work on it'.

I was also asked to get my daughter to help with hanging clothes using pegs and encourage her to do so using her thumb and index finger as this movement will help them to eventually hold the pen correctly. Also using tongs to pick up items can help (-:

drjohnsonscat Mon 11-Mar-13 17:26:28

Thank you for all the suggestions. I will look into all of those and hopefully get him enjoying it a bit more. There is such useful experience to tap in to on here!

FireOverBabylon Mon 11-Mar-13 17:31:19

my DS is the same age as yours. He loves chalks, and has a little chalk board which he uses. He also has a magnetic sketcher thing. He uses the pen on this.

He also loves puzzles so maybe look at something like this to help your DS develop dexterity.

superbagpuss Sun 24-Mar-13 19:40:56

my concern is that my boys start nursery after easter and all the other children can write their names already, mine are still at the scribble a bit and make shapes stage! Does this mean they will have trouble when they start proper school in Sept? We are trying with pencils and the magic wipe pads to start them make structured marks but fear they are behind already- do like the suggestions with lego and play doh though!

bubblesinthebath Tue 26-Mar-13 12:27:38

I would agree with insancerre, just work on those little muscles, bendaroos are also good. Superbagpuss I wouldn't worry, my Dd could draw very detailed pictures before she started nursery but still can't write her name, I will leave the writing to the school this would be something that will be focused on in reception. Just try to keep the motivation to learn there.

Beatrixpotty Tue 26-Mar-13 16:43:59

drjohnsonscat my DS1 is the same, I am guessing yours is an August baby too? Mine doesn't really seem interested in pens/pencils/drawing either, is much more into construction and imaginative play with dinosaurs.However we have just been given a set of rubber stamps and inks which he loves and seems a good start? Also have finger paints in the cupboard which he saw and asked to use the other day so when I can bear the mess we get those out too.

teacherlikesapples Thu 28-Mar-13 16:43:11

Boys often like a more practical reason to be mark-making.

So if he likes cars/transport:
* Large paper, range of mark making (crayons, pens etc...) To make maps, roads, signs. Use boxes to make houses, scissors, glue. So the mark making has a range of purposes e.g street signs, carparks, roads, windows on the buildings. Add these to some of the cars

If he enjoys construction: clipboards with pens & paper (just as a foreman would have) notebooks, diary, post-its. As part of the normal 'construction' play equipment.

Being a 'helper' with your every day jobs- if you write a shopping list, he can 'write' one to. Doesn't matter what marks he makes. He can even draw pictures of his favourite fruit that he wants to buy. Maybe you play eye-spy when catching the bus next time. You each have a notebook & make a tally mark for every blue car you see. He might choose his favourite colour- who will see the most? This way he sees you role model the importance & various uses of writing and he will begin to understand the various concepts of literacy. It would be great if he sees you writing letters, crosswords, postcards, post its. Anything!

Writing letters to people that will handwrite back- Nanas, cousins etc... Include the trip to the post office, paying for stamps.

In the bathtub or on a warm day outside- paintbrushes & water, or a little colour/paint in the water. Add chalk (pavement chalk is best if working outdoors on concrete) so he can make marks with this first, then wash it away with the wet paintbrushes.

Make your own books for bed/story time- give him nice paper, stapler (to learn to use himself) or hole punch & ribbon. He might like to dictate the story to you. A prompt for this activity might be reading one of his favourite stories- then posing a few what ifs... For potential alternative endings. What would have happened if?
I wonder how...? Try not to dictate to many rules for his creativity here, give the prompts then just listen. If his story if 5 words long, after you read this, the next time you make a book it might be 10 words.

To encourage him: Give only specific praise (as opposed to generalised "good boy" etc...) If he spends longer than usual writing praise his effort. If he forms nice lines & circles-give specific feedback on that. Praise effort, praise concentration & trying his best. Try to remove wording like "writing properly" or doing it right. At this age it is about experimentation, trying his best, making mistakes is an important part of learning. We all make them! So effort is more important than accuracy.

gabsid Sun 07-Apr-13 16:55:07

My DS was the same, he couldn't hold a pen properly until after he started YR. I watched him scribble on a page, while the older girls coloured in neatly.

I have read that the best way to work the musles in the hands is to take him to the playground and let him climb and play. Once he starts R and sees the others draw and write he will develop an interest too - give him time, he will be one of the youngest as you say.

My DD is completely different, she could always hold a pen properly (from 12m), she is 4 1/2 now and loves drawing and writing, being read to and having a go herself.

Carolelh Fri 19-Apr-13 11:52:08

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