Teaching Your Child to Write

When my daughter was three and a half years old, I attempted to teach her to write her name in preparation for kindergarten, and failed. My daughter refused to write or even hold a pencil correctly and she started school without knowing how to write her name. Although many children are taught to write using worksheets and just tracing dotted lines, this method wasn’t very appealing to my daughter. Since she was a premature baby and born in December, I attributed her age for her lack of interest. I chose not to force my daughter to do something she wasn’t ready to do, in fear of her associating negative feelings with learning. In hindsight, I think my daughter not wanting to write, had a a lot to do with her not wanting to start kindergarten. Currently my daughter is five months into kindergarten and she can write her name and alphabets just fine. It took a lot of patience, encouragement, and creative approaches to get her to where she is now.  

Since how well your child can write, depends on the development of his or her fine motor skills (the ability to coordinate small muscles in the hand), the first step to teaching your child to write is to strengthen his or her fine motor skills.
The following is a list of activities that help build strong fine motor skills:
  • Doing puzzles
  • Playing with lacing & tracing toys
  • Stringing penne pasta or Cheerios to make a necklace
  • Building with blocks
  • Stamping
  • Rolling out and cutting shapes from play dough
  • Scribbling with markers, crayons, chalk
  • Finger-painting
  • Cutting with safety scissors
  • Using a gluestick
  • Scooping, stirring, and pouring
When your child is ready to write, keep in mind that preschoolers learn best through a multi-sensory approach.
Here are some activities that my daughter enjoyed that also helped her learn to write:
  • Writing on a dry erase board, small chalkboard, and her VTech Stencil & Learn Studio
  •  Using her finger and paint to write letters
  • Tracing letters using glitter glue
  •  Writing letters with chalk on the driveway
  • Using a stick to write in sand at the park
  • Tracing letters I wrote, using a highlighter
  • Writing in paint and shaving cream (spread some paint or shaving cream onto a cookie sheet)
  • Pretend-writing letters in the air
Once you notice that your child is starting to grasp the movement required to write each letter, you can introduce paper and a pencil. I recommend using a short pencil because it forces your child to hold the pencil correctly. I wrote letters using a highlighter and asked my daughter to trace them. Then I moved onto dotted letters and asked my daughter to trace the dots. Using these methods, I also successfully taught my daughter to write her name, but before teaching her to write her name, I taught her to spell it. I wrote each letter of her name on one flashcard (the starting capital letter in one colour, and the rest of the letters in another colour). Every day we practiced saying out loud the letters as we arranged the letters in order to spell her name and eventually she was able to do it on her own and without the cards.
Remember that practice makes perfect. You can encourage your child to learn to write by praising his or her efforts often and using stickers to reward your child for a job well done.  

Feature Image: medicalcaremanagement.co.uk



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