A child's journey towards learning to write begins long before they can hold a pencil and write letters. We shouldn't really teach preschoolers how to write formally. Our goal should be to teach them pre-writing skills instead. In this blog post, we reveal the reasons why, and how to teach children to write using appropriate activities.
The Process of Learning to Write
Children should not be taught to write too early for several reasons. The formal writing should be left for when the child is ready developmentally. Through play, children learn and are stimulated at their own developmental level. Through this process, they are naturally able to progress and mature, developing more advanced skills along the way. During the toddler or preschool years, a child is generally not physically or developmentally ready to write. They will experiment with letters and "write" on their artwork on their own, but they should not be forced to learn the correct letter formation or write on a line.
Fine Motor Control
During the first few years of a child's life, their fine motor skills are developing. By drawing, painting, playing with playdough, etc., they can strengthen their finger muscles.
By strengthening their finger muscles, children learn how to hold pencils correctly, using a tripod grip. When children are small, it can be difficult for them to develop this grip, so they practice with crayons, chalk, pencils, etc. Jumbo chalk or crayons will be easier to hold for younger children. Eventually, they will be able to hold crayons and pencils that are thinner as their grip and finger control improves.
Gross Motor Control
A child's gross motor control refers to their ability to move and control their bodies. It is imperative that they have strong core muscles, good posture, and are not easily fatigued in order to sit and write at a desk.
Large to Small
Children usually develop from large to small as they grow. Your children's development may reflect this in the following ways:
The ability to catch large balls before small ones.
Painting with thick brushes before fine ones.
Develop large muscles before small muscles.
Reading books with large letters before fine writing.
Using large pieces before tiny pieces when building puzzles.
Teaching children to write must follow the same principle. Large letters should be introduced before small letters. Expecting a young child to properly form a small intricate letter is completely unrealistic. When teaching your child to write their name, introduce the letters through play and in a large format.
Playing games like climbing through tunnels and chasing each other helps children develop spatial perception. Later, they will be able to space letters and words correctly on a page - next to each other, on the line, straight, small enough, starting at the margin, etc.
Learning to Form Patterns
In school, formal writing is not introduced by showing the children how each letter is formed. It all begins with patterning. Before teaching the letters, they make zigzags, waves, and all sorts of patterns. All these patterns have shapes that teach children how to move their hands when writing letters. For instance, a capital "A" has a zigzag pattern whereas a capital "C" can have curly waves. As soon as they have mastered these patterns, letters are introduced one by one, in separate lessons. For each one, the teacher will explain the formation, for example: Start at the top right, go up and around, all the way back up, then down the same line. Every time a child writes a letter, they must use the proper formation. Leaving out all these educational practices and teaching your child to write by himself is not advisable. However, never interfere with natural learning. When a child writes letters by themselves or form words on their own, encourage them without correcting them.
How to Teach a Child to Write
There are many things you can do to prepare your children for writing. As a result, they will be able to write naturally and easily when they are ready.
It is imperative to expose children to print often and talk about it (books, signage etc.).
Model the correct letter formation when writing and include their names at the top of their drawings.
Develop their fine motor skills.
Give your children plenty of art materials and encourage them to draw and paint.
Develop their gross motor skills.
Use a rubber pencil grip or correct their pencil grip.
Ensure that your children have plenty of free play time.
Play with wooden, magnetic, or foam letters.
The Wedge Jotter is a fun way to encourage children to write, promoting self-correction which helps build self-confidence in children. With a writing area 15% larger than an A4 sheet (whiteboard area - 320mm x 225mm) the Wedge Jotter can be used by both left and right-handed users. When raising the board using the legs either in a portrait or landscape position, a sloped writing surface is created, which helps children to develop their fine and gross motor skills and to explore mark-making or practice their handwriting. When used in an angled position, the boards are ergonomically comfortable for children suffering from conditions such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.