Do you want your children to become confident writers? There are a lot of fun and easy ways you can help your toddlers or preschoolers learn handwriting.
The skills needed for writing emerge from birth when young babies follow moving objects with their eyes and reach out for them. At around 6-9 months, babies pick up smaller objects using the thumb and forefinger. As children get older, they need to continue building up strength in their hands, wrists, and fingers to be able to hold and manipulate a pen.
Here are seven ways that you can help children develop the skills needed for writing.
1. Work out gross motor skills
If you’re wondering how to improve handwriting for kids then outdoor, physical play or involvement in sports is a great way to build up gross motor skills in readiness for learning to write, or to improve writing skills in a child who is struggling.
Gross motor skills are the large-scale movements we make with our bodies, and they play a crucial role in preparing children for writing.
To use their hands and fingers to write, children must first be able to maintain sufficient stability in the rest of their body, starting with core strength and control over the trunk, neck, and shoulders.
As well as building up physical strength required for gross motor skills, children must also develop the ability to plan and carry out gross motor action. To be able to write, children must be able to coordinate muscle groups to work together correctly. Their brain has to plan and carry out the correct sequence of actions.
2. Strengthen fine motor skills
Fine motor skills are those that involve the small muscles of the hands that are used for writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing.
Children benefit from daily experiences that develop these fine motor skills, for example, using stickers, threading, or using beads. This kind of activity builds strength and dexterity in the hands and fingers for developing handwriting, and will also support the development of a good pencil grip when the child is ready.
Using malleable materials, such as playdough, works the muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists. Playing with dough and rolling, pinching, pressing and squeezing engages the muscles in a way that everyday activities don’t and helps to build up strength.
3. Sensory mark-making
Writing doesn’t always have to happen with a pencil and paper. Before children are ready to write, they will often experiment with mark-making in a variety of ways.
Forming letters in sand, mud, salt, dough, or shaving foam are great ways to encourage early mark-making and letter formation. Creating a handwriting alphabet in colored rice is much more exciting than tracing letters of the alphabet!
4. Write for a purpose
Writing is quite an abstract concept for young children, especially if it involves copying words or tracing letters. Making writing meaningful is a sure-fire way to get children curious about it and wanting to do it more often. Help your child to create a grocery list you use together at the store, or craft and write a beautiful birthday card for someone they care about.
5. A special pen
Sometimes handwriting practice for kids is tracing letters, and if that’s what’s needed, then try to make the experience pleasant and personal. A special pen, picked out together, may provide the motivation your child needs to fill out that handwriting alphabet sheet!
6. Drawing and coloring
Children love drawing and coloring, and the good news is this is handwriting practice for kids! It teaches them the right pressure to use to achieve different results, allows them to develop their grip on a pen or pencil and hones pencil control as they try to stay within the lines.
7. Educational Apps
Whilst screen time should certainly be limited, knowing how to use a computer or a tablet is an important skill. There are plenty of great educational apps at the moment. Look out for apps that promote letter recognition and give children the chance to form the letters.