You may feel that it’s high time for your pre-k mini-nerds to learn how to write, and you may just be right: it’s never to early to introduce letters and pencil-holding into their playtime.
Their first essay may be a long way off, but starting with small, achievable goals and graduating to the next step when they’re ready will start them on the right track.
For a lot of kids, their first proud piece of text is their own name. To urge them on, put their name up around the house, particularly in their room. This can double as a great decorative touch; just make sure it’s easy to read.
Feel free to get crafty and use scraps of paper or paint to create your own pieces of name art, or add a personalized carving or wall decal. You could even wear their name as a personalized necklace for bonus exposure.
Alphabet Toys as Manipulatives
Next, don’t be afraid to inundate them with alphabet shapes and seize any teachable moment you can. Grab some alphabet plushies like the ones we wrote about a few weeks ago, or snag some homespun textual cuteness over at Etsy. Add alphabet puzzles or letter shapes made from plastic or wood. Either way, just make sure the letters are fun, exciting, and become familiar. Once your toddler knows which letter is which, it’s time for the next step.
Build Those Muscles
It may seem like you were born with a pen in your hand, but by now you’ve probably discovered the truth: holding a crayon or pencil is really freakin’ hard for little kids. Grab a few awesome crayons or markers for your kids (splurging on the scented ones will provide a huge, memorable treat) and print out a few coloring book pages.
There are downloadable coloring sheets for just about any theme you’re into, so don’t be afraid to indoctrinate your pre-k nerd with all things Whovian, or whatever your thing might be. They won’t be able to color in the lines right away, but that’s ok. Color alongside them and model how to hold the crayon while cheering on their determined efforts.
Trace Letters and Numbers
After kids have a handle on crayon maneuvering, it’s time to get down to lettering. Start with tracing letters, which can be done by having them draw over your penciled letters, or by printing out downloadable worksheets like the ones in this Star Wars home school worksheet pack.
There are also free downloadable iphone or android letter tracing apps for learning on the go.
There are also products like the Magnatab Magnetic Writing Tablet (pictured at the top of the article) that add a fun twist to tracing letter shapes.
The Final Step
Now that they’ve put in the practice, it’s time for the big game. Encourage them to write letters on their own, and encourage as they learn to independently write each letter until they can write their name. Move on to other words when they seem ready. Pretty soon, they’ll be writing their own Manga!
Have any tips for parents struggling to get kids to pick up a pencil on their own? Have a question about your kid’s struggles? Share in the comments or forums!