Learning to write is a journey that is different for every child.
Some learn with speed and confidence, others struggle over many years, while most are somewhere in the middle. The speed is not important as long as a child is able to progress from one skill to another, growing in confidence as they go.
Even before formal writing is taught there are lots of activities young children can enjoy that will prepare them for their writing futures.
Speaking and Listening
We do not write in a vacuum. We write what we know, what we’ve experienced and what we’ve thought about.
For young children, their main source of input is interaction with family members or with friends and carers at their childcare centre. It may not seem like it but conversations, read alouds and imaginative play are excellent sources of ideas for writing. The next time someone asks you why you allow so much playtime, just tell them it’s to help your little one be a brilliant writer later!
A Print Rich Environment
Children learn what writing is and why it’s important by interacting with the print around them. When my son was little he used to LOVE looking at community maps – those extra large posters or boards you see at parks or shopping centres. Shop signs, street signs, billboards, junk mail… writing can be found everywhere and children learn from what they see.
Since children respond much better when learning is relevant to them it’s important to think about how your child’s environment can be enriched with print.
- If you have dress-up clothes, you can create signs showing them for sale, or label different sections such as ‘dresses’ and ‘hats.’ Or you can have a checklist of your dress-ups for children to sign out by writing their name next to a picture of the item they’re borrowing.
- Make labels for common objects around your classroom or home and place them nearby.
- Make restaurant and drink menus for children to pretend to order from.
Fine Motor Skills
It’s one thing to be able to pick up a bat and swing it at a piñata and quite another to pick up a pencil and write a perfectly formed letter.
All those little muscles in the hand need to work in tandem with the brain to not only hold the pencil steady, but make it go in the right direction on command!
Fine motor skills include any activity that strengthens hand and arm muscles and gives a child increasing control over their hand’s tiniest movements.
- Drawing and painting
- Cutting and using glue
- Using play dough
- Building with blocks
- Picking up small objects
It’s common in preschools and early learning centres to see children tracing lines. It helps develop their tiny hand muscles and gives them confidence as they start learning to write the alphabet. Besides that, they enjoy it!
Download these free line tracing sheets that come in both colour and black and white.
- Laminate the coloured version and have kids trace the lines using dry erase markers. The lines will come off easily with a tissue so they can be reused over and over.
- Children can colour the black and white versions if they like and use them as is so they’re only used once. Or laminated for multiple uses.
- They’re also good for having a discussion about the relationship between each animal to the picture it is attached to.
What does research say about writing?
Here’s a link to my research-based post on the importance of developing pre-writing skills with our little ones. Researchers are saying they’re essential for successful writing and to promote academic achievement. You can listen to this post in podcast format here.
Want more tracing activities?
This Tracing Lines for Fine Motor Skills pack includes all the essential lines and shapes that young children are encouraged to practice in order to learn shaping letters successfully!
What kinds of print do your little ones love to engage with? Please leave a comment!
If you still haven’t downloaded these line tracing sheets please use this link!
I hope you are able to share these sheets with the early learners in your care and wish you happy teaching and learning!