How to help your child develop their handwriting skills!
When your child is 3 or 4 years old they will, without realising it, develop their fine motor skills, which is essentially their ability to make movements using small muscles in their hands and wrists, which in turn will begin their handwriting journey.
Having four children, two of which have developed their handwriting skills, I have had two very different experiences. Put it simply, one hated colouring and drawing as a child and developed his skill of handwriting a lot later than his brother who absolutely loved colouring and drawing BUT they both now have beautiful handwriting so if you're at home worried about your child's ability to write beautifully DON'T BE...it will come!
At nursery and in Reception your child will draw and colour in more detail and will be able to do practical life skills like turning a nob on a door or zipping up their coats. We as teachers have realised the importance of developing a child's fine motor skills in their ability to handwrite so at school your child will be encouraged to do all sorts of activities to develop their fine motor skills because we realise just how important it is for a child's handwriting.
Your child might be asked to use pincers to pick up small things, begin to trace shapes of letters, play with play dough to toughen their grip and all sorts of other fun ways. All this lays a proper foundation and indirectly prepares your child to learn to write.
There are many ways in which you can help your child's fine motor skills and in turn their handwriting and here are a few:
Get them to make marks!
First, I would simply get them as often as possible to make marks on paper. Better still they could draw different patterns that go from left to right. Some examples of these are here:
Show your child a letter and ask them to pay attention to how it is formed and shaped. You could trace it on any surface and have them guess what letter it is. Trace it on their hand or their back and see if the can guess. Have them do the same to you.
Dry erase books
Use a dry erase book where your child can wipe out and rewrite letters and numbers as many times as they want. These can also help to reduce frustration for them if they do it wrong first time!
Use sand or shaving foam
Get some shaving foam or sand in a tuft tray or similar and get your child to do letter formation using their fingers. Do this outside if you aren’t feeling brave enough for mess in the house!
Use music and movement
Music has been shown to enhance learning and children especially often concentrate better when a song or video is involved! Use a fun song with letters of the alphabet singing, dancing and having fun.
Practice letter shapes
You can use my cursive to show them the correct formation of letters. On each card is either a cursive letter or a number (0-9). The cards show you and your child the correct way to write upper case and lower case letters and numbers with start points (pencil icon), directional arrows, order of strokes and where to finish the letter (x icon). The letters have been divided into ‘movement groups’ - each card has a different coloured border to show the different groups. Let your child watch you form the letter formation first.
Make an alphabet poster
One of my personal favourite activities to do is to create a letter poster. Your child can write the letters and then draw a picture of a word that begins with that letter. You could also use magazines to find and cut out and stick pictures down of the words that begin with the letter. This helps them to recognise the letters based on words they know.