Teaching children to write should be a fine art-push them too hard and they may hate it forever, don’t pay close enough attention and they can have lasting issues with speed and neatness. Its enough to stress any parent out (especially if you’re like me and tend to stress out about anything and everything anyway!)
Here are some of my favorite resources for preparing children for and teaching writing at home:
While I don’t think a full curriculum is necessary, if you prefer to use one I love Handwriting Without Tears . It is a comprehensive handwriting program involving active learning. From their site:
The HWT curriculum starts when children enter kindergarten. By playing, singing and building letters, they develop important skills they need to print words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually transition to cursive.
They also have a Pre-Writing/PreK program entitled Get Set for School.
I used the Get Set for School series (the older version, it has recently been revamped) with my boys and it was also used in the preschool they attended while my husband was deployed. I found the sing-alongs (available on CD) and the wooden letter pieces to be very engaging for my boys and helpful in teaching them pre-writing skills.
The Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Generator is a free tool that lets you choose from a variety of fonts and sizes to make customized worksheets. You can also print out your own blank writing paper with or without space to draw a picture…we use these for our “Writers Workshop” sessions each week.
Worksheet Works is a new website still in its Beta format but definitely worth checking out! Choose your line setup and type your own words and it creates pdf worksheets you can download and print out. I use this website to create our Bible verse copywork for the my oldest son each week. I find that giving him copywork to trace helps with the formation of his letters and give him good practice in uniformity of size and familiarizes him with proper punctuation.
Prewriting Skill Builders
Help your child develop motor control by progressing through the following:
- tracing straight lines
- tracing zigzag lines
- tracing curved lines
- tracing horizontal and vertical lines
- tracing diagonal lines (left to right, right to left)
- tracing circles.
Here is a great website for printing out pre-writing tracing worksheets.
Have your child color not only at a table, but also laying on their stomach or standing at an easel. These positions encourage proper position of the wrist, strengthen the arms promote correct grasp.
Give your children broken or short piece of crayons or try golf pencils. This also promotes proper grasp as they cannot use a “fist” grasp.
Partially fill a ziploc baggie with paint or other colored liquid. Seal the bags and show your child how to make lines with their fingers. As they draw with their fingers, the material will be displaced so they can see their strokes. You can also use dry ingredients on a tray such as rice or sand. Shaving cream is great for this too-in the bath or on a tray/baking sheet.
|Image via Creative Connections for Kids|
When coloring encourage scribbling first, imitation of vertical stroked second, horizontal strokes next, then circular motions, and finally, copying a circle. This is the proper developmental sequence of pre-writing skills. Remember, this is a time to explore with crayons, not being confined to a specific shape.
Overall remember not to push your children….every child is different in their motor skill development. Take your time, have fun, and go at their pace!