I had to look twice. A private client showed me the picture her 4 year-old made in his school OT session (not the picture above!). A picture decorated using a dot marker. He can copy a vertical cross and a circle using a pencil. I showed him how to draw a triangle in less than 4 minutes during that session. He is very risk-averse and is probably intellectually gifted. He has lots of sensory issues and mildly limited fine motor skills.
Why was he using a dot marker for anything?
I know his therapist isn’t very experienced, and I am sure the supplies budget isn’t huge. But neither are good excuses for using tools that don’t raise the skill level of a child that is so hesitant to be challenged. Those markers are great for toddlers under 2 or older children with motor skills under a 24-month level, especially kids with neurological or orthopedic issues that don’t allow them to easily grasp and control crayons. Dot markers get children excited to make a mark on paper (an 11-month fine motor skill) and can be the first step to holding a tool to develop early pre-writing.
They aren’t good at all to develop any kind of mature pencil grasp due to their large diameter and large tip. It would be like writing your name with a broom!
The ink tends to splatter with heavy quick contact with paper (fun to make a mess, but not therapeutic!), and doesn’t dry quickly enough. Repeated contact bleeds colors together, and it is hard to keep within the borders of a design unless the target is very large. I can assure you that the design above was done by an adult, an adult with some art training.
Dot markers aren’t building pre-writing skills for this child I treat. There are so many options for activities that do build skills in kids at his ability level. Their use can discourage a risk-averse child from working on pencil grasp. Whatever the activity it was that they were doing, unless he was swinging on his belly on a platform swing or going down a ramp on a scooter (I don’t think he was doing anything nearly that intense) while using a dot marker, there were other, better choices to make.
Read Using A Vertical Easel in Preschool? WHERE You Draw on it Matters! and Deluxe Water Wow Pads Offer More Challenge And More Fun To Preschoolers and Kindergarteners for more good ideas on fun at home that builds pre-writing skills.