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How To Learn To Write
Along with learning to read, writing is another important event that parents often wonder about. A question I see over and over again is “when should I teach my child to write?”
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The answer is not cut and dry, “they have to write in the years ‘insert year here'”. Writing, or handwriting, is a complex process that involves many skills that you may not realize.
So let’s examine some of them and answer the question, “When should I teach my child to write?”
If you’re looking for a specific age to start writing, unfortunately, I can’t give you one. What I can do is suggest appropriate growth based on your child’s current age.
However, despite this, it is important to remember that every child is different. We want to consider not only what is age appropriate, but what is developmentally appropriate for your child and their interest level.
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There are basic skills, or building blocks, that a child needs to succeed in writing.
Sensory processing – especially proprioception, or the ability to know where one’s body is in space. It affects the grip of the pencil, the ability to put enough pressure on the pencil to write without looking at it, and it also affects posture (slouching vs. sitting upright).
Gross motor skills – these include the ability to cross the midline (with hands and eyes), bilateral coordination (holding a page with one hand while writing with the other), and core strength (being able to sit up straight and not slouch). .
Fine motor skills – I’ve written specifically on the fine motor skills needed for handwriting here, but I’ll give you the short version for this post. Motor skills include many different skills, but manual manipulation is thought to have a major impact on handwriting. It also has something to do with holding a pencil.
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Visual-motor skills – You may come across many confusing terms related to visual skills. Visual motor skills involve the physical movements of the eyes and the brain’s interpretation of visual information. Eye coordination is a skill that takes in information from the eyes and is able to coordinate hand-eye movements.
When all these details work together, you have what is called visual-motor integration. This means that eyes and motor movements (visual and motor skills) work together to complete tasks.
A child needs hand-eye coordination, visual perception, and spatial awareness, to name a few, to succeed in handwriting.
Executive Function – As your child gets older, he will use more executive skills in his writing. Executive function includes working memory, planning and completing tasks, and organization. You can read more about executive work here.
Learning English Alphabet For Kids. How To Write Letter B. 4582409 Vector Art At Vecteezy
Prewriting skills are a big part of handwriting, so you’ll see me refer to these important areas. I’ll give you links to read more about this term at the end of this section.
Toddler (15-24 months old) – Toddlers begin to draw and make notes on paper.
Primary school (3-4 years old) – Start to make marks and lines like objects (drawing), you can start to understand some previous lines of writing (vertical, horizontal, and circular shapes as an example). They can write other letters of the alphabet, usually those in their names. The pencil grip is still evolving.
Kindergarten (5-6 years old) – The pencil grip becomes a flexible tripod or quadrupod grasp. They will also learn how to write all the letters of the alphabet and some numbers.
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Here we must remember that the previous lines of writing must come first. If a child has not yet mastered some of those lines or shapes, writing the alphabet may be difficult for him. Some children can begin to spell small words with sounds.
Early Elementary (6-8 years old) – Begin the ability to spell and write words such as sight words and short sentences. By the end of 2nd grade, the child can write a long story or a written opinion piece.
Beginners (8-10 years old) – Write complex sentences and begin to learn to organize their work. They begin to understand the process of planning, creating, and revising their written work. Many children also begin to type on the keyboard during these years of long written assignments.
High school (ages 14 and up) – Write long and difficult papers on a variety of topics. It is also a way to combine information from multiple sources.
Learning Cursive Writing For Kids
Many people start asking this question when their child starts school. However, as we saw above, many school children are not ready for formal handwriting instruction because they are not yet ready to develop.
However, if the child shows interest in writing we should follow his lead. If you have a small child who wants to learn to write their name, then start showing them.
What I want to emphasize is that we remember that this is a correct development and we understand that the success of these practices may not come in a few months or years.
Focusing on basic handwriting skills, especially at this young age, will set your child up for a successful handwriting experience.
Ways To Support Children Learning To Write
My daughter, the oldest, never liked to draw, color, or write. Even when we got to Kindergarten, he didn’t like it. I continued to give him training, while also focusing on fine motor and other skills that I knew he needed.
When the first grade arrived, he suddenly wanted to color and quickly took it. He is in 2nd grade and loves to draw, is starting to spell and we finally found a handwriting curriculum that he likes to use (from Good and Good can be found here).
My son, who is 5, started Pre-K this year and we are using The Good and The Beautiful with him. Before this, we focused on gross motor skills, visual motor, gross motor, etc., and we continue to do so.
One day he asked me to show him how to write his first and last period and after a week of practice, he was able to write in capital letters. It’s something I’ve looked into, but it’s mostly driven by interest in him.
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If you want more information about handwriting, I want you to check out The Handwriting Book. It was written by me and 10 other Pediatricians and Physical Therapists and will be a great resource as you look over the handwriting.
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