How To Teach A Child To Write – The Complete Guide
Do you want to teach your child to write? If you do then this is a very good thing as writing is an essential life skill that everyone should have. In this comprehensive guide we will answer the question “how to teach my child to write?” and show you various proven methods that will work for children of all ages.
We tend to take writing for granted as parents because we have been doing it for a long time. But you need to bear in mind that writing is not the easiest thing for your child to master. You need to have a good degree of patience and it is best to start to teach your kid to write as early as possible.
When to Teach Child to Write?
With the right reading program, you can teach your child to read at the age of 2. A lot of people think that their child is only going to be able to write when they are close to the age for kindergarten but a research study proved that this is not necessarily the case.
This study was conducted in 2017 and it concluded that a child can develop their writing skills from as early as 3 years old. The Journal of Child Development published this study. One of the conclusions from this study was that kids learn writing fundamentals prior to learning the sounds that letters of the alphabet represent.
Before this study the experts assumed that a child could only learn how to write after learning all of the different alphabet sounds. Once a child new the sound for the letter “A” for example they would then be able to start writing this letter.
These experts were wrong to assume this. The study revealed that younger children could recognize patterns in the words they saw, such as typically how letters go together and the length of certain words, without understanding the meaning of these patterns or even understanding the meaning of the words.
The Development of Writing Skills in Children
Another important area of this study was how the writing skills of children develop. This is important to know when you want to teach your child to write. The researchers observed that young children as young as 3 would follow written language rules when they started to write words.
At this early stage it was not important that the words they wrote made any sense. What the child was likely to do is to write a word as they thought it should look. Children are able to assess the length of a word and so they would know that the word “dog” is shorter than the word “giraffe” for example.
As the child gets a bit older and progresses with their writing, they will improve their skills. So, as you might expect, a 5 year old child will be able to write a word that looks more like the real word than a child that is 3 years old. The conclusion of the study was that children had the ability to read and write at younger ages than previously thought.
How to Encourage Kids to Write
Some parents will naturally be overwhelmed when thinking about how they can teach their kids to write. The first thing to understand is that you are not going to be running a full-on handwriting class with your child. You will be slowly introducing the skill of handwriting to your child instead.
It is important to get started as soon as you can. So, if you want to know how to encourage 4 year old to write or how to encourage 6 year old to write it doesn’t really matter because you can provide encouragement to your child to learn writing from the age of 3.
Of course, a child will change quite a lot from when they are 3 years old to when they are 6 years old so you need to take this into account. We recommend that you don’t try to do too much at once no matter how old your child is. Just always give them words of encouragement when they are practicing their writing.
Develop Muscles and Dexterity
Learning to write is different to learning to read. A child needs to develop the required muscles and the dexterity to write. Fortunately, there are a lot of things that you can do to help them with this. One of the best things that you can do is to let your child color in pictures. You can even give your kid a blank piece of paper and some crayons and let them do what they want.
We recommend using crayons because your child should find these easier to hold and use. By using the different color crayons your child will start to use the muscles that they need to write. Another good way to develop writing muscles and the necessary dexterity for writing is to get your child to participate in other activities.
Kids love to use Play Doh and when you let them do this not only will they have a lot of fun (which is very important), but they will also build up their hand muscles and improve their dexterity. Another good method here is getting your child to cut out various shapes. There are special scissors that are safe for kids that you can use here.
Most children love to play with stickers and you need to encourage this as they will develop the finer motor skills that they need to peel off the sticker from the backing paper. Something simple like giving your child a small water spray bottle, so that they can help you to water the plants, will help them to develop their hand muscles as they will need to squeeze the lever at the top.
Teaching Posture and Grip
Another essential element of writing skills is having the right posture and grip. You will need to teach your young child these skills. A good way to do this is to break a crayon in half and give the pointed end to your child. In order to use the crayon, they will have to practice gripping it with their fingertips.
Be sure to help your child out here. How to teach a child to hold a pencil correctly? Show them how to do this and help them if they get it wrong. You are their parent so it is natural that they will want to follow what you do. Hold a crayon or a pencil in your hand to demonstrate the “tripod grip”. This involves using the index and middle finger and the thumb correctly.
A lot of parents that ask us “how to teach my child to write?” have a specific question about their child holding a crayon or a pencil too tightly. Some of the parents’ report that their child complains to them that holding the pencil hurts them. If you see that your child has white knuckles when holding the pencil then they are gripping it too tightly.
Another sign that a pencil is held too tightly by a child is that the paper just rips when they are trying to write on it. You need to show and teach your child that they do not need to grip the pencil so tightly. A good idea here is to place a small blob of Play Doh in the palm of their hand which should make them loosen their grip.
Also, when you want to know how to teach your kid to write you need to pay attention to the pressure that they are applying on the paper with the crayon or the pencil. Initially, your child may break a crayon because they are applying too much pressure. Teach them that if the pressure is not enough the writing will be barely visible.
The best way to teach a child to write in the early stages is to secure the paper that they are writing on. It is inevitable that they will make mistakes with grip and pressure initially. If the paper is continuously moving as well then it can be a real challenge for them. This is an easy fix that could prevent your child from giving up too soon.
Other Activities that Will help Teach your Child to Write
There are other activities that you can engage in with your child to help develop their dexterity for writing. These will all give your child a “hands-on” approach to developing their writing skills. Not all of these are directly related to writing but don’t let that stop you using these activities as they will help.
Tracing on a Surface
The easiest way to do this is to show your child a certain letter. Start with the letter “C” as this is one of the easiest to trace. Ask your child to study the letter to see what shape it is and the formation of it. Then you can ask them to use their finger to trace this letter using their memory on a surface such as a window, a window, a door and so on.
Be sure to congratulate your child when they get somewhere near the original letter with their tracing. Another thing that you can do is to use your finger to trace a letter on a surface. Start off by making the letters you trace very large and gradually make them smaller as your child gets better at giving you the right response.
This may not be a total success immediately so you can help your child by placing their hand on top of yours as you trace the letter. If you want to know how to teach a child to write letters, then surface tracing from memory is a good technique that will really help them.
In addition to this, you can purchase a stencil that has all of the letters of the alphabet. Some stencils include the numbers zero to nine as well. Teach your child how to use the stencil with a pencil. Hold the stencil still for them when they are first attempting this. People always ask “how to teach a child to write numbers?’ and a stencil with numbers will definitely help.
Wet and Dry Method
This method is proven to work and is based on research. In order to recreate this activity, you will need a slate chalkboard. You start the process off by writing the letter on the board with chalk. Make the letter fairly large.
Now you need to ask your child to wet their finger using a sponge and then trace over what you have written. Tell your child that they then need to wait a few minutes for the letter to dry. Once the letter is dry, ask your child to use the chalk to trace over it again.
Use Magnetic Letters and Numbers to Feel Formations
You can purchase a magnetic letters and numbers pack fairly inexpensively from Amazon. Alternatively, you can make all of the letters and numbers out of Play Doh. The idea here is that you will discuss the shape of each letter and let your child feel the shape (the formation).
As your child develops their writing skills you can talk about the way a letter looks before you reveal the magnetic letter. So, for example, you could describe the letter “E” as a comb that has some of its teeth missing.
Once you have described the letter to your child then ask them to describe it to you. Ask your child to write the letter or do a surface trace of it. Be sure to discuss the letter formation as they are doing this. At the end, you can reveal the letter and show them how close they were to getting it right.
Show and Read Children’s Books
We recommend that you read your child a story every day. If you want to know how to teach your child to read and write then you can use the excellent Children Learning Reading program to teach reading and when you are reading the story books show them the printed letters.
It is important that your child sees what you are reading. You can use your finger on the book as a guide for them. Your child is probably going to struggle with this at first so you need to be patient. Sometimes your child will lose interest in following the letters and even your finger in the book. Be prepared for this and keep going.
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Provide your Child with Multiple Tools for Writing
Most people start off with crayons as these are easy for kids to handle. But there is no reason to stop there. You want to encourage your child to practice their writing at every opportunity so make sure that you have other tools available.
Most people think that painting is different to writing. This is correct, but the action of using a paintbrush on paper will help to develop muscles and dexterity needed for writing. If you have a sandbox in the yard then give your child an appropriate stick that they can use to make drawings in this. They can also use their finger to write in sand of course.
Tracing and Connecting the Dots – How to Teach Kids to Write their Name
How to teach a child to write their name? Write their name clearly on a piece of paper in fairly large letters. It is probably best if you use a marker to do this. Encourage your child to trace the letters in their name with their finger first. You can then place some tracing paper over letters and ask them to trace what is underneath with a pencil.
How to teach your child to write their name part two – create a connect the dots version of their name. It is a good idea to do this once and then make several copies of this so that your child can practice. They will probably make some mistakes when they first start to use this technique. This is fine.
You can help your child by showing them how they can go over the letters with their pencil. Make sure that you guide their hand at the start so that they get the hang connecting the dots as quickly as possible.
When your child is able to easily trace the letters in their name and connect the dots properly, you can move things up a notch by asking them to copy the letters onto a separate sheet of paper. This helps to reinforce the writing of the letters because your child now has to recognize the letter formations and recreate them.
How to Teach your Child Writing Skills – Make it Fun
Children want to have fun so when you make learning to write as entertaining as possible, they are likely to take to it a lot better. There are several things that you can do to make it fun to learn to write. One of these is to get a can of shaving foam and let your child practice their letter by squirting the foam onto an appropriate surface. You could use whipped cream as an alternative.
Finger painting is another fun way to learn how to write. It is going to get a bit messy so make the necessary preparations for this. Another thing that you can do is to give your child a water gun and get them to create letter shapes on an outside wall or other suitable surface. When it is hot outside, you can both watch how quickly the letters vanish.
We have already mentioned magnetic letters and numbers and you can get your child to play with these. Once they have practiced writing their name a few times, ask them to use the magnetic letters to spell out their name and when they get it right tell them to copy this on paper.
If you want to know how to teach your 3 year old to write or how to teach your 4 year old to write then talk to them whenever they are practicing their writing. You can use fun stories that you associate with the letters as well.
For example, you can make up a fun story around the letters in your child’s name. Make this as simple as possible so your child can easily remember the story and learn to recite it themselves. There are games available to help children to learn how to write so be sure to check these out as they are another fun thing to do.
How to Teach your Child to Write Sentences
Do you want to know how to teach a child to write sentences? Once your child has learned how to write individual letters and words competently then you can move up to teaching them to write sentences. To make this easier, teach them how letters sound in different words.
This is where a proven reading program like Children Learning Reading will help immensely. Your child will learn how to use phonetics to understand how to spell words and then to write them. There are teaching your child worksheets available and these will help in the composition of words and sentences.
Practice Teaching your Child to write Every Day
The best way to teach your child to write in the quickest possible time is to practice every day. When you make writing a fun activity your child will probably remind you that it is “learning to write time”.
Make sure that you are patient throughout this process and watch how your child develops their writing skills. As they improve be sure to present them with more challenging assignments. Start a writing journal with them and ask them to write things about their day. You can write the start of a sentence and ask your child to finish it for example.
If you have any questions about how to teach a child to write please leave a comment below.