We've covered the basics of first steps to writing: fine motor development and how to teach grip, but what happens next?
What letters, numbers, or symbols should kids actually learn to form once they master proper grip, and how can parents make this next part of writing fun? I've followed the same basic sequence of steps for all three of my kids, and though there are many ways to cross this bridge, this path worked for us.
Research shows that when children are encouraged to scribble, doodle, and color freely in a fun and non-stressful way, they want to write more. And really, that's what we want: kids who have the desire to write! As parents, we should do what we can to maintain a calm and light atmosphere when working with our little ones, using specific and directed praise when possible.
Beginning with letters X and O is a great place to start with early letter writing. After playing with X and O, I introduce kids to a square and triangle. Those four basics will introduce your child to the majority of letter shapes and forms.
Next, I move to my children's names in uppercase letters. Names are usually one of the first words a child learns to recognize and read, so it makes sense to use these important words.
From the child's name, moving on to other family names is a worthwhile next step. Again, these names should be in uppercase letters: MOM, DAD, and siblings' names. Once the child learns to write those names, the natural next step is to introduce the child's name with a capital first letter followed by lowercase letters.
Of course, writing these letters and words need not be done solely with a pencil and paper. Writing can—and should be—done in any way possible.
Consider trying these "outside the box" ways of writing:
• use water and a paintbrush to "write" on the sidewalk;
• write with a finger using Jell-O on a cookie sheet;
• use white chalk on a black piece of construction paper;
• write with window crayons on a mirror;
• try dry erase markers on a white board;
• paint in a gallon-sized clear plastic bag.
Remember, keep it fun, keep it light, and make writing like a game. Kids won't even know they're learning!