Jul 18 , 2020
As your little baby will grow up into a curious toddler he or she will begin to realize that those squiggles on paper are actually telling him something! He’ll ask you to read words or sentences written in magazines and books, and not long after that slowly begin to learn what the words written on paper actually mean. This is generally referred to as emergent writing—i.e. the time when kids start to understand that writing is a form of communication and that the words on paper convey a message.
Emergent writing is the first stage of a child’s journey to mastering the written word. An emergent writer won’t be ready to write flowery paragraphs or long essays just yet. Instead, he’ll have to focus on making the size of his letters consistent, writing left to right (or vice versa depending on the language he speaks), and overall developing the skills needed for good penmanship.
Helping little kids take control of their newfound writing powers may be a challenge at times. Sometimes kids will want to run and play instead of writing their names. Other times, kids might end up writing in odd or unusual ways. Parents need not worry too much, though. With enough time, patience, love, and practice, your child will be able to master writing his ABCs in no time! Here are some great tips to remember when helping your toddler or preschooler learn how to write well.
1. Make Writing Fun
You might be tempted to make your child sit in a tiny table and write words over and over again. Sure, it isn’t all that pretty and fun, but it gets results, right? Not really.
Kids need to be motivated and excited to learn something new. A three-year-old won’t want to practice writing if he associates it with boring sit-down time. But, he will be more motivated to practice if he’s allowed to have fun while writing his name. Instead of sticking to paper and workbooks, try to incorporate writing into your child’s playtime. Let your little one trace their name in paint or foam to stimulate their senses and make writing more fun. Come up with fun messages with your little one using Legos, building blocks, and sticks. In the end, it’s much better to let go of the pressure and just have fun while learning something new!
2. Encourage Coloring Activities
Writing time doesn’t have to revolve purely around letters and words. You can avoid burnouts and make writing time more fun for your child by letting him or her do alphabet coloring activities. If you feel like your child needs a bit of a break from letters, let him color pictures of animals, cartoon characters, or anything else that catches his fancy. This will help him get a better grip on his writing materials and improve his fine motor skills.
You can also train your child’s writing skills by letting them trace letters first before coloring them in. Tracing helps kids get used to the motions and lines used when writing the alphabet. While your child colors to his heart’s content, you can bond better and make learning more enjoyable by talking with him about words he associates with that letter or what other letters come before or after.
3. Trace Trace Trace
Tracing is a vital part of learning to write. It helps kids learn to better control their pencil, write letters more clearly, and even learn essential spelling and vocabulary! Whenever possible, print out age-appropriate tracing worksheets for your child and help him get used to tracing various words. Start with easy two and three-letter words so that he isn’t overwhelmed. It’s also best to use his name and other favorite words so that he has fun while doing tracing activities. You can also let your child trace drawings of animals, plants, or cartoon characters to make writing time more fun and less exhausting for him.
Of course, pencils don’t have to be your only option. You can also try doing other fun tracing activities using art materials at your disposal. For instance, try letting your child trace using finger paints, markers, or crayons. Trace painted lines together with your little one using your fingers. Most importantly, remember to have fun while learning to trace together!
4. Make Fun Creations Together
Is it time to set ground rules for playtime? Do you need to write Christmas Cards for cousins across the country? Why not let your little writer help out? Writing posters and cards together is a great way to bond, teach the importance of saying “Please” and “Thank You”, and build self-confidence. Go wild with whatever design choices your child will enjoy—dinosaurs, weird shapes, flowers, you name it! While your child has fun drawing and writing all their favorite things, don’t forget to encourage them with powerful words. Keep their spirits up by saying things like “Way to go!” or “That looks great! Good job!”, and do give them the chance to talk about what they’re making so that they feel more involved.
5. Build Essential Fine Motor Skills
Writing isn’t something that comes naturally like breathing or blinking. It’s a skill that takes time and patience to learn. Before handing your toddler a pencil, it’s important to first let them build and get used to doing crucial fine motor skills. Let your child pick up sponges and blocks so that they master the pincer grip, squeeze and stretch toys and clay with your child so that they exercise the smaller muscles in their hands, and play fun games that allow your child to apply their fine motor skills. For instance, you can both try picking up and dropping M&Ms in a bowl. If you and your child are both Star Wars fans, you can try playing around with Lego pieces or action figures. The possibilities are endless!