How to Teach Your Preschooler to Write - Prewriting
Part 1 of 4 in “Teaching Your Preschooler Writing” Mini-Series
Learning to write can be a very difficult skill for many preschoolers and easy for others. We often talk to parents who want more hints and tips about How to Teach Preschooler to Write.
In response, we created this “Teaching Your Preschooler to Write” Mini-Series! These are four posts explaining the different stages of writing and filled with activities you can do at home. As an added bonus, we have also included the “Buzzwords” section. This is simply vocabulary you might run into when learning about writing skills in other articles or when talking with your child’s teacher or a professional. At Tutor Doctor, we believe it is important to give parents the tools necessary to learn along with their child. So, here it is! The first post for you!
Believe it or not, writing takes a great deal of muscle control in the fingers, hands, and even arms
. Because of this, pre-writing activities are crucial to building up the muscular strength needed before you start “writing in the lines.” Here are a few things you can do with your child to build up the muscles.
- Work with play-dough or clay to form shapes and pretend play items (such as yummy “fake” foods). We’ll have some fun forms to use in Part 4 of the Series: More Ideas and Resources.
- Draw on large surfaces with easy-to-use instruments. Markers are easiest for children to start with (just as my son-he drew on the hallway wall!), but sidewalk chalk is just as good. Putting paper or a large whiteboard on the wall or hard floor to “practice” works. You can also draw outside on the sidewalk or driveway. All of these help with larger movements that will eventually move down to smaller movements.
- Use clothespins. These have gone by the wayside, but I noticed my son was really struggling to grip smaller things and his hand/finger strength was not good. When we started working with clothespins, his skill improved rapidly. We set up a “clothesline” indoors** - just some twine we hung tied from one thing to another. Then pin cards, doll clothes, cards, hats…or whatever!...on it. Pinning clothespins onto the sides of an empty shoebox is great. You can make them go all the way around the edges like a train. This was one of the favorites!
**(Safety Note: Be careful not to have the clothesline cause a safety issue, so make it shorter – no more than 2-3 feet - and in an enclosed area off to the side where children running won’t get hurt)
- Painting with brushes and sponges. Such fun activities for both indoors and out! Painting with large brushes, foam brushes (you can get these very cheap at a craft store!) and sponges cut into smaller pieces can be great ways to help your child work on those little muscles, along with working on improving eye-hand coordination. Try “water” painting, too! This is where you “paint” with foam or paint brushes outside with water. It dries and you do it again!
- Experiment with different writing implements. See Buzzword! Vocabulary below to read more about this.
- Notice hand dominance. Read more about this in the Buzzword! Vocabulary section below.
Fine-motor coordination – small movements you make with your hands and fingers and then “coordinate” to get a task completed, such as writing, drawing, stringing beads, picking up Cherrios, etc.
Eye-Hand coordination – being able to coordinate what you see and want to do with those small muscles in hands and fingers such as looking at a hole and placing an object in it, or making a straight line from one spot to the other.
Grip – How you hold an object (usually a writing implement)
Pincer Grip or Pincer Grasp – holding an object with thumb and first finger (this is usually noticed as babies are able to pick up Cheerios or finger food)
Hand Dominance – which hand your child prefers to color or pick up things with
Writing Implements – What you write with (crayons, fat pencils, thin pencils, fat markers, thin markers, sidewalk chalk, etc)
What would you like to try with your child? Comment below on your ideas or thoughts.
Get our Free Checklist that goes with this series of posts! You can follow along and use the checklist with your child!