Are you interested in teaching handwriting to your preschooler? Avoid these common mistakes!
(Disclosure: I received compensation and free product from Go Teach! Handwriting for this post. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.)
I receive many emails from parents asking me for help when teaching their young children to form letters. When should they start? What should they use? What letters should they teach first?
Let’s take a look at five common mistakes to avoid when teaching handwriting … and what to do instead.
Mistakes to avoid when teaching handwriting
Mistake #1: Rushing into it
Children need lots of time exploring with markers, crayons, and other tools before we begin handwriting lessons. There’s no need to rush! My three-year-old is very busy with markers, crayons, scissors, and glue all day long. Mr. Sketch scented markers are a fun favorite!
Don’t get me wrong – we talk about letters a lot, and my Three loved our letter of the week series. But I haven’t attempted any formal handwriting practice with her just yet.
Mistake #2: Neglecting fine motor skills
It’s common for parents to think that the first step is teaching their child to hold a pencil and form letters, but that should come after many playful fine motor activities. These don’t have to be structured. Think simple!
- spraying water from a spray bottle
- stringing Cheerios on a piece of yarn
- punching with a single hole punch
- simple crafts with scissors and glue
Just today, my Ten helped my Three glue colored paper to some cardboard tubes for a pair of binoculars. (Yes, we go through a lot of glue sticks around here!)
Mistake #3: Jumping to worksheets before children are ready
Many early childhood educators feel strongly that no preschoolers should be doing handwriting worksheets. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I’d definitely agree that most three and four-year-olds should not be using traditional handwriting pages.
Instead, give them a variety of surfaces and materials to write on/in. Here are some of our favorites!
- small dry erase boards with fine-tip, low odor Expo markers (these are our favorites)
- writing in a sand, sugar, or salt tray
- drawing with chalk on the driveway
using markers to draw on bed sheets during quiet time(I wasn’t too happy when my Three tried this one!)
Mistake #4 Teaching the letters in order
I like to start with the letters of my child’s name. (And yes, we do start in all capitals, because they’re easier to write.) Then we move on to the letters in this order – from easiest to hardest.
E, F, H, I, L, T, W, X, K, M, N, Y, A, Z, C, O, G, Q, B, D, P, U, R, S
I have found that after my children know how to write uppercase letters, they are ready to learn to write lowercase letters in any order. But if you want to have a more structured approach, start with letters that include all straight lines (such as t, i, etc.), move on to letters with slanted lines (v, k, x, etc.) and then conclude with letters that have curved lines or a combination of straight and curved lines (a, b, r, s, etc.).
Mistake #5: Neglecting proper letter formation
I prefer the Zaner Bloser handwriting style. In fact, that style has been the inspiration for all of the handwriting pages you can find on my site. It’s a simple block style that works well for young writers. I appreciate the emphasis of starting at the top when forming letters.
My Letters of All Sizes handwriting pages are great for young writers. Have your child start at the dot to form each letter inside the bubble. Your child can do just the large letters or – if (s)he is ready – all the letters on the page. I should note that my Three was happy to model this page for you, but I don’t plan to focus on these until she’s four or five years old.
A tip: Laminate the pages and store them in a 3-ring-binder for multiple use. We like the black Expo markers (they erase the best from laminate) so that we can use the pages again and again.
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