"Stages, not Ages", is an ideal way to look at any developmental milestones. The exact age at which children achieve a certain writing stroke is not terribly important. But know that a child reaches milestones in a predictable sequence. These start with vertical lines, horizontal lines, circles, crosses, and are followed by diagonals and more complex strokes. Pay attention to the areas posted below, as kids may need to improve certain skills like fine motor and visual perception to master handwriting.
Preschool & Pre-K
Children may show interest in writing at very young ages. Nonetheless, preschoolers are typically not ready to manipulate a pencil and form letters. Encourage hand development by playing with manipulatives such as Wikki Stix, Unifix cubes, and playdoh. Familiarize kids with letters through reading and letter games. When children are 4 to 5 years old, they have better visual and fine motor skills. Start with short crayon pieces to encourage a pincer grasp. SHOP HANDWRITING PRODUCTS
It takes time for a child to develop a mature pencil grasp. An efficient grasp requires that he or she demonstrates solid hand strength, good finger dexterity, and a stable wrist and shoulder. These characteristics emerge over time; the more exposure a child has to fine motor activities, the better. Developing an "open web space" is very important. An "open web space" reflects the circle formed between thumb and fingers. See THIS BLOG POST to better understand pencil grasp.
A multi-sensory approach to teaching incorporates visual, auditory, kinesthetic (hands-on) activities in the learning process. Research shows that using multi-sensory approaches in the classroom improved student motivation and engagement (Stoffers, 2011). Also, research in past years shows that students taught with a varied sensory approach score better in testing. Different children have different learning preferences. A multi-sensory approach to teaching handwriting suits and engages all children.
Why a Vertical Surface?
To achieve good fine motor control, a child must have solid trunk strength and a stable shoulder. If a child cannot hold his shoulder and arm steady, he cannot draw careful writing lines. Shoulder strength and stability should be demonstrated by the time a child is ready to write, generally by age five, in kindergarten. Activities to build shoulder strength include animal walks, jumping jacks, and drawing and coloring on a vertical surface such as paper taped on a wall.
All too often, writing numbers is neglected when handwriting is taught. Sometimes it is addressed as an afterthought. Learning numbers is an important skill for kindergarteners. By the time a child enters first grade, she should write numbers fluidly and automatically. Writing numbers in kindergarten should be practiced as frequently as writing letters is practiced.
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