If you missed the first part of this series where I share the many mistakes that I’ve made in my handwriting lessons, you can laugh along with me about the struggles of my journey here.
Before you begin teaching handwriting, it’s important to ensure that your child is ready to begin working on penmanship. There are necessary skills that need to be developed prior to handwriting instruction. These skills are pivotal for a smooth transition to handwriting and will help reduce frustration.
The Skills that Ready Your Child for Handwriting Instruction
Let’s talk about the skills you want to pay attention to for handwriting readiness. When assessing these skills in children (ages 4-5), be aware that they will still be in development and not yet fully mastered.
Fine Motor Skills: Strengthening the hands encourage a proper pencil grip and writing precision.
Eye-Hand Coordination: The eyes guide the hand in forming letters with accuracy.
Proper Pencil Grip: Properly holding a writing utensil will give the child more control. An improper pencil grasp is usually a sign of weak fine motor skills.
Recognize Letters or Numbers: Being able to distinguish the similarities and differences between two characters.
Literary Orientation: Differentiating left from right. Understanding that we read and write from left to right.
Introduce Proper Letter Formation: Introducing stroke directionals long before a student begins tracing characters on a paper will help set them for success later on.
Plenty of Positive Support and encouragement: Learning new skills can be frustrating for young learners. Be sure to assist them when they are struggling, make these exercises fun, and give them lots of positive feedback.
After reviewing this list, if you have found that your student is not yet ready for handwriting instruction, that’s okay! There are a few ways that you can prepare them. A comprehensive handwriting curriculum will review a few of these skills as well.
How to Check for Prewriting Skills
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Here is an example of a pre-handwriting lesson that covers all of the skills mentioned above.
The skills are generally for 4-5 years of age. The lesson is great for preschoolers as well as older students who may need additional practice or review.
- Begin by introducing a short storybook. Point out the title of the book. Run your fingers across the letters as you read the title of the book. Read aloud the story while running your fingers across the pages, demonstrating that we read from left to right.
- Then, review literary orientation with the Left and Right Hand Orientation FREEBIE. Have the student chant, “left-right,” while having the student trace several times. Make sure that the student picks up the toy car (or pointer of your choice) each time. They should begin on the left and complete the stroke on the right.
- Afterwards, take out your favorite choice of laminated tracing mats. Have your kids trace the letters or numbers with their fingers, a toy car, expo markers, or magnets. These tracing mats are great for solidifying proper letter formation while students move on to handwriting practice.
- While the mats are out, test your student’s ability to identify numbers and letters. This analysis does not have to be formal or take too long. Casually ask what letters or numbers they see. It is okay if they don’t know all of them or get a few wrong. The main thing we are searching for is if they are having a hard time distinguishing characters.]
- Lastly, have students draw freely using triangular crayons or a pencil with a pencil grip to promote a proper writing grip.
As a result, this lesson should give you an idea of some areas that might need more work. You can repeat the lesson throughout the week as many times as your child is interested.
If you feel that your student is having a difficult time with any of the above skills, the student might just need additional practice. In some cases, intervention with a professional may be necessary.
Is it Really Necessary?
So, you might be wanting to skip this step and jump right into penmanship practice. Similarly, you may be wondering why it is necessary to take the time to strengthen the skills mentioned above.
Earlier I mentioned how assessing a child’s readiness will make transitioning to handwriting much easier. However, to truly understand the impact of handwriting, we must understand the disadvantages of an improper foundation. And that is what we will be discussing next in this series!
Is Your Child Ready to Learn Handwriting?
Did you learn something new about handwriting readiness? Did this article give you a solution to a problem? Let us know in the comments below!