Developing basic motor skills is crucial for your child to be able to write letters, and eventually words. One of the first steps to developing fine motor control is for a child to trace over dotted lines forming a letter. This helps them hone their motor skills while learning letter formation at the same time.
When starting out to write, encourage your child to grip their pencil properly in order to develop good handwriting skills. The ideal way to hold a pencil is with the thumb, index and middle fingers holding the pencil. This is sometimes known as the ‘tripod grasp’. Holding a pencil this way ensures lots of movement to write, whilst at the same time allowing the hand to remain stable.
Not only is proper grip of the pencil important, but so is good posture. Remind your child to keep their feet flat on the floor, and to encourage them to keep their non-writing hand on the table. This hand keeps their paper secure as they write. Your child’s back should be straight, not slouched.
Once your child begins to gain proficiency with basic motor skills and writing, there are several things you can do to encourage them to continue improving their writing skills, including:
Try and write regular notes to you child, encouraging them to write back to you. Even if your child is at the emergent literacy stage and is unable to read, writing notes is an excellent activity to promote writing for a purpose and to encourage letter formation.
Keep a pencil handy
Create a writing-on-the-go kit that contains a range of writing implements and stationary. Put everything in a zip-lock bag and take it with you when you go out. Your child will then be able to write anytime, anywhere!
Display writing attempts at home
It’s often common practice to display children’s artwork around the home. However, try displaying your child’s attempts at writing as well. This will send your child the message that you are proud of their attempts at authorship. This kind of encouragement is essential for building early writing skills.
Allow your child to work out spelling
Don’t be concerned if your young child is inventing lots of words when attempting to write. This is completely normal and this ‘invented spelling’ stage is an important milestone. Quite often children will spell very phonetically (e.g. ‘wnt’ for went, ‘dgz’ for dogs). This will improve with time and practice.
Take every opportunity you can to encourage your child to spell words for themselves. If they want you to write something for them, ask them what sound can they hear at the beginning? What sound can they hear in the middle? What sound can they hear at the end? Even if they miss a few letters, it’s great spelling practice for your child.
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