Writing and reading doesn’t come as naturally as playing, eating and sleeping. It is a learned behaviour for humans, which means we have to put extra effort into learning to read and write. In the present situation, it is a nightmare for many parents to teach writing to their preschooler. How do I begin? What to start with? Do I need to teach capital letters (Uppercase) first or small letters (lowercase)? What is the right age to teach writing, are a few of the frequently asked questions.
So, let’s begin with the most common question ‘when to teach writing?’
You can begin with scribbling, coloring and other fine motor activities as early as 18 months. For the next 1.5 – 2 years, prepare your child for the actual writing process. During this period child will
a) develop Fine Motor skills
b) have a proper pencil grip (tripod grip)
c) be able to recognize all the letters
Once the child is ready, you can begin with writing letters and numbers. Now, the question comes how to start?
Fine motor activities – Video(Part-1)
Fine motor activities – Video (Part-2)
1) Teach basic strokes: Before teaching letters, introduce standing lines, sleeping lines, slanting lines and curves. These basic strokes can be taught once a child has a proper grip, between the age of 2.6 – 3.5years.
2) Use 4 lines notebook: In India, children are supposed to write in a 4 line notebook up to primary years. Hence, from the beginning make the child practice in the 4 lines notebook.
3) Begin with capital letters based on lines (strokes): There are different ways of beginning with alphabet writing. For example, some schools teach small letters first, some teach capital letters, some go by traditional alphabetical order, while others follow the Jolly Phonics programme and some go by the lines (standing line, sleeping line etc.). If you are a parent and planning to teach writing at home, then my suggestion would be, begin with capital letters, based on the lines taught to the child.
a) Letters with Standing and sleeping line – E, F, H, I, L, T
b) Letters with Slanting line – A, K, M, N, V, W, X, Y, Z
c) Letter with curves – B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, R, S, U
By the time a child learns letters with slanting lines, he/she will have enough practice to write the letters with curves.
4) First tracing and then independent writing: Always begin with letter tracing. Once a child gets confident with tracing letters then move to independent writing.
5) Correct formation: From the beginning teach the correct letter formation. Sit with the child and show how to write a letter, where to start and where to end.
Points to remember:
a) Do not keep high expectations from the first day. It’s a new skill the child is learning and to master it he/she will take time.
b) A child may write too light or too dark, keep reminding to put appropriate pressure.
c) Keep the notebook on a flat and hard surface, which will help in good letter formation/handwriting.
d) Practice makes it perfect, so make the child practice every day. It is okay to take a break for a day, however, 2-3 days break will not do good for the child.
e) Be patient. It will take time and you need to encourage the child with your positive feedback.