Typically, parents will think of writing as something that isn’t achievable for preschoolers. After all, it’s hard to write when you can’t yet recognise letters or spell words. However, the foundations of writing actually begins early on – from colouring in to crayon scribbles!
Simple ways to encourage your child’s writing skills
- Encourage your little one to draw as much as possible by stocking their craft bin with a variety of writing tools such as crayons, chalk and markers
- To strengthen hand muscles from a young age, tasks like cutting with scissors and manipulating blocks, and other small toys are great
- Practice making letters with Playdough – this is a fun exercise to help your child strengthen their fine motor skills and also learn how to form letters
Here is an activity for you to do at home with your preschooler
Trace the alphabet
Teaching children to write doesn’t always require a pencil or other writing tool. Using paint and homemade paint brushes is a fun alternative to learning how to write. Besides, creativity and craft is such a huge part of learning!
What you’ll need
- Cotton swab
- Permanent marker or texta
- Write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper
- Set up a paint tray and add a little dab onto the cotton swab to show your toddler how the activity works
- Then, trace the letters on the paper with your homemade paint brush!
Even though capital letters are easier to write than lowercase, don’t encourage your little one to write in all caps. It may prove difficult for your child to break out of the habit of writing in capitals during primary school should that be all you practice at home. Mix it up!
Getting the right grip!
Your child’s first grasp on a pencil will probably be a tightly closed fist – this is very normal as they have not yet been taught how to grip correctly. Rather than a full size pencil, use a smaller pencil or crayon that is suitable for little hands. Your child will instinctively hold it with their fingertips, and it will reinforce a much more mature grip.
Experts recommend pinching the pencil between the thumb and index finger, and resting it on the side of the middle finger. It is okay if your child holds their pencil with three fingers in the beginning.
How to tell if your child is left or right handed, or even ambidextrous
There’s really no specific age as to when your child will show a preference for their right or left hand. Babies will begin their life using both hands to do things, and likely not show a preference for one hand or the other before 7 to 9 months of age. Usually around 2 years of age you will notice they favour one hand in particular, and by 4 to 6 years you will know whether they are right or left handed.
What to look for
Many assume that whatever hand their child uses to catch a ball is their dominant hand, however this is not always the case. Try to look out for the hand they use to reach for items that are placed directly in front of them, or the hand they use for self-feeding. Interestingly, if your child stirs counter-clockwise, it is highly possible that they are left handed.
By far, the vast majority of the world is right-handed, and left-handedness is much less common. Some people may feel as though it doesn’t matter if their child is left or right handed – and it doesn’t! However, things may be a little different for left handed little ones learning how to write.
What does it mean to be ambidextrous?
Someone who changes hand preferences when doing a variety of tasks is considered mixed-handed or ambidextrous. It is quite rare to be ambidextrous, and only about 30% of the population displays this trait. Those who learn to be ambidextrous have a tendency to favor their naturally dominant hand, while those born with the ability are equally adept at doing things with either hand.
Things to consider
It’s important not to pressure your child into writing with their hand that isn’t their dominant one. This will only lead to frustration since it is a trait that is determined by genetics and the brain. The hand they choose is the most natural for them, and the one that will work the best to improve their writing skills!
Lastly, here are a few fun tricks to use to help kids remember letters:
✔︎ The letter B Is a line with a double bubble
✔︎ The letter D is a line with one big belly
✔︎ The letter H is two road with a bridge across
✔︎ The letter Y is shaped like a necktie!
Your little one will love to come up with more ways to remember the alphabet with you! So sit down and have some fun, getting creative together.