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Pre-writing skills for homeschoolers and other young kids

Don't start them on writing too early, and use fun exercises as preparation

Pre-writing skills for homeschoolers and other young kids

Children who are pushed into writing before they are developmentally ready may grow frustrated and rebellious. Vanessa of Pre-K Pages explains how to prepare your child for writing by introducing fun pre-writing activities.

Fine motor skills

The two elements of handwriting, says Vanessa, are pencil grasp and proper letter formation. In order to hold a pencil in the correct “tripod” grip, fingers must have strength and dexterity. To develop fine motor skills, try these activities:

  • Use a plant sprayer. If the plants don't need watering, draw a monster with markers, and have your child melt the monster with water from the spray bottle.

  • Play a counting game. With tweezers or tongs, have your child pick up small marshmallows or pom-poms and count as they place the objects in an ice cube tray.

  • Using spring-loaded clothespins, your child can attach pieces of cloth or pictures to a line.

  • String Cheerios or penne pasta on a piece of yarn or string.

  • Spread coins, cards, or buttons on the floor, and have your child turn them over.

  • Play with finger puppets.

  • Draw with chalk or crayons. Break the tools in half so your child will have to use three fingers to grasp them instead of holding in the fist.

Also see our article on cooking for fine motor skills, another way to develop the fingers. 

READ MORE: 6 Mostly mess free ways to paint with your young kids

Letter formation

Make sure your child forms letters starting at the top. Muscles become less tired when the pencil is drawn toward the body instead of pushed upward. Model letter formation yourself so your child can see the correct way to write.

Two don'ts

Many adults try to start their children out with writing on lines, but such an exercise is frustrating until the eye muscles have learned to track properly. Vanessa also discourages the use of worksheets that require writing the same letter or word over and over. What could be less enjoyable for a young child? There are so many ways to make writing fun.

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