Handwriting is more than just making letters on a page. In order to be successful, students must first be able to control small movements with their fingers, hands, and wrists, as well as being able to coordinate what they see with what they do with their hands. Each child develops differently, so there is no specific timeline for when they will develop pre-writing skills. Experts have suggested timelines, but as parents you know when your child is ready to start writing. I’ll also share some sure-fire tips you can use.
Tracing and Handwriting
Since tracing requires the use of fine motor skills, it also helps children develop their coordination. Tracing helps children develop pre writing skills and coordination. Learn patterns and shapes using crayons, pencils, or markers by tracing dotted paths from left to right, right to left, up and down, or diagonally. This can help develop fine motor control. Tracing is also great for focus and concentration. Before kids can trace letters, they need to practice tracing lines.
However, not everyone enjoys tracing, and it can be frustrating. It is important to check for readiness because it is a key factor in success. There is no indicator that the oven is preheated and ready to use like there is on a microwave. Let the kids hold the crayons and try tracing. If your child is having trouble holding the crayon, you can help by modeling how to hold it correctly and tracing a line for them to follow.
Signs of readiness vs Frustration
If your child is holding the crayon properly (which can be seen in many videos on the internet), and they are enjoying tracing the lines, then they are ready for this activity.
If your child has difficulty grasp objects, becomes agitated easily, or cries frequently, you may want to explore different ways to help them strengthen their fine motor skills. There will be no deep learning taking place if the child does not enjoy the activity. There is more than one way to develop pre-writing skills and learn to write.
Don’t worry if you have a child who is a tracing or nonconformist learner. Writing will come. Celebrate all successes.
Teaching Pencil Grip
Mothers teaching their children at home often wonder about the best way to hold a pencil. In my honest opinion, it is crucial that it is taught correctly from the beginning in a one-on-one setting. It’s important to be careful when using a kitchen knife so you don’t hurt yourself. Just like you would teach your child how to use a knife, you need to be careful too. I would never let my kids use a sharp knife without me showing them how to do it first. It’s too dangerous and they might end up getting hurt. A crayon is not dangerous, but if you grip it incorrectly, it will never look right. It’s THAT important.
If you’re not watching your child, they will do whatever they want.
You know your child best. Why are they holding the crayon/pencil in that way? Age, hand strength? Differently-abled? Lack of proper instruction? One-on-one instruction is the best way to help a child develop the proper pencil grip, working on it a little bit each day.
Correcting poor pencil grip in older children
A poor pencil grasp can be improved, even in older children.
If your child is not holding their pencil correctly, encourage them to do so by only accepting their best work. As long as you can understand what they are writing and they are happy with the results, there are no concerns.
If your child wants to use them, feel free to offer pencil grips, trainers, and even shaped pencils.
Other ways to develop pre writing skills
There are other ways to develop writing skills besides tracing. Free drawing is also a great skill. A lot of blank paper and imagination can take you far. Encourage your child to use curves, zig-zags, straight and diagonal lines when they are drawing so they get used to seeing them and hearing the terms. Allow them to write and draw about topics they are interested in, even if they cover the same ground multiple times.
Your kid might like writing better when there aren’t lines to follow. Allow your students to practice writing letters in a variety of different surfaces to increase their creativity. Some examples of different surfaces they could write on include: paper, the air, a pan of rice, a chalkboard, or fun dough.
Sensory writing is also very effective. You can have a lot of fun painting with water on the sidewalk, using beans, shells, or other dimensional objects like twigs to form letters. You can even shape the letters out of dough. Try not to make learning to write a stressful activity. It can be as much fun as drawing if kids are encouraged.