Handwriting Ideas for Little Ones

As an educator, I often notice that young school-age children have difficulty writing.  I don’t mean the creative process (although there is that part), but rather the physical act of holding a pencil and writing letters.  Forming letters and holding a pencil correctly are difficult if children don’t have the hand strength, stamina and eye-hand coordination needed for these tasks.  Writing becomes a chore and children will work very hard to avoid doing any writing at home or in the classroom.  Since writing is an important part of literacy development, these difficulties can lead to problems in all areas of school.

What can parents do? From an early age, playtime can provide many opportunities for children to develop the hand-strength and coordination needed for writing tasks in school.  Infants can be allowed to pick up Cheerios or other small foods at meal time.  Playing with blocks, stacking and knocking them down, putting each on in a bucket, can be a chance to develop hand-eye coordination.  For older preschoolers, playing with clay, finger paints, coloring, and lacing beads can develop some of the same skills.  Allowing children to use scissors at an appropriate age, or to use a spray bottle filled with water, will increase hand strength.  Doing puzzles and crafts, buttoning, zipping and tying, and using eating utensils correctly will all help develop your child’s abilities.

So get in there and get messy!  A child learning to hold a spoon correctly is going to spill, but mastering that task is a stepping stone to holding a pencil.  Paint, clay, craft projects all take time (and plenty of cleaning supplies), but involve the start of many skills needed for success when writing.  Those crayon scribbles are just the start of what will be a wonderful story.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy Barth
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 16:34:43

    Great post, and the previous one, too. Keep up the good work!


  2. Petra
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 16:43:51

    Thanks! I can’t take all the credit though. The latest article is written by a friend of mine who is a wonderful educator and has great ideas and perspectives. She is helping me keep this blog active.


  3. Rebecca
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 22:00:19

    I’m a total fan of Handwriting Without Tears. My 3.5 year old has been writing all her letters for almost 6 months now. The teachers guide gave me a lot of ideas for making sure to be consistent and actually pay attention to grip instead of letting them make bad habits that they have to break later.

    But I agree that there are so many other ways to work on fine motor skills! Thanks for the post.


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