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Teaching Your Child to Write: 7 Tips to Make It Fun, Not a Chore
  • At around 4 to 5 years old, your child may begin to learn how to write. A good way to tell if your child is ready to learn when he starts to pick up pens and scribbles with them, says Anna Patricia Rodriguez-Carranza, a teacher at Preschool Music Methods at the University of the Philippines College of Music. Once he does so, it's a good time to introduce writing activities. Here are tips to keep in mind when practicing at home: 

    1. Don't pressure your child.

    Our hands are used to holding a pen and shaping consonants and vowels. Little kids, however, are entirely new to the skill, so they need a lot of practice. Moreover, your child’s fine motor skills are still being developed. Expect it to take some time and be patient, mom. “Your goal, at this stage, is to encourage her so she'll realize that writing is an activity with its own unique rewards,” said BabyCenter

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    2. Check the grip. 
    A lot of preschoolers’ trouble with writing (messy and almost unreadable!) stems from a difficulty with holding the pencil. Practice a preschooler’s fingers with activities that help with fine motor skills, Sophia Viola, a preschool teacher at Blended Learning Center in Manila, told Smart Parenting. “Try exercises like putting clothespins on cardboard, tearing paper and placing ping pong balls in egg trays,” she said. “These strengthen the finger muscles, which will help them correctly hold writing materials.” 

    Grips -- those rubbery tubes that resemble small leg warmers -- are good for helping your child to hold onto his pencil. Also, make sure the pencil’s length is comfortable for your preschooler. Long pencils make it difficult for little hands, Dawn Audibert, a preschool teacher, told Parents

    3. Make it fun.

    Try not to introduce writing to your child with just a pencil and paper or dull activity sheets. Your child has to know that writing is not a chore he has to do. “Make writing fun and no-fuss,” said Viola. Use art materials to write with like chalk, crayons, and paint. Write on different surfaces. Manila paper makes for a cheap, big writing space that your preschooler can have fun with on the floor. There’s also chalkboards, whiteboards, and even a floured surface like the kitchen counter top. 

    Having different colorful stationery, stickers, and shape punchers make writing more appealing as well. Ask your preschooler to write you a letter complete with an envelope and stamp!

    4. Have writing sessions often.
    “Incorporate writing into your child’s daily schedule if you can,” said Rodriguez-Carranza. The more opportunities your child gets to write, the better. “No one starts great. Practice makes progress! Let your child practice every day but be careful not to force him/her,” said Viola. Remember, the goal is to make writing enjoyable. 

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    5. Practice both upper and lower case. 
    A good place to start with writing exercises for your preschooler is her name. Show her what her name looks like in print, sound it out, and let her copy it down. You may notice that your child will find it easier to write in just capital letters, but practice both upper and lower case. “[Writing in all caps] is an incredibly difficult habit for kids to break in kindergarten,” said Audibert. 

    6. Use tools and hacks. 

    Younger kids may find it easier to write with “fat” crayons and pens. As previously mentioned, grips help for little hands. You can make your own, as suggested by Understood.org, by pushing a pencil through a ball of clay and holding it as if you were writing to indent finger marks.

    If your child is having trouble with spaces in between words, Understood.org suggested trying a “spacekid.” Have your child draw a smiley face on one end of an upright popsicle stick, making him into a little person. Introduce the popsicle stick as “spacekid” who likes being placed after each word your child writes. Your preschooler will then have to write the next word in front of “spacekid.” 

    7. Write a lot yourself. 
    Kids are big copiers. “Model the behavior instead of telling your child what to do,” said Viola. If your little one sees you writing to-do lists, jotting down notes in a pad, or handwriting thank-you notes, she’ll be more enthusiastic to practice her letters too. Try writing activities together as well, like giving each other secret messages. “Write letters with your finger on each other’s back. Have your child guess the letter or word, then vice versa,” recommended Viola. 

    Have fun! 

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