Teaching handwriting starts with teaching pre-handwriting skills to toddlers and gentle instruction will continue for several more years. As always, there is flexibility in when to start teaching your children. It is up to you and your child’s readiness!
Don’t worry, this isn’t about forcing your child to practice handwriting every day and demand that they write perfectly by age five. In fact, I want you to avoid doing that!
I started a handwriting program with one of my children around age four and they “hated writing” by age seven because they hadn’t been ready in the first place!
So, I did something radical and stopped all formal handwriting for a year, focused on the pre-handwriting skills outlined below, and at age eight they were ready to learn cursive.
Handwriting lessons may also be known as penmanship or teaching letter formation. We will cover pre-handwriting skills and formal handwriting lessons in this article.
This article is part of a series meant to encourage and prepare moms to teach language arts at home to their children using almost any program.
- My approach to teaching language arts is very loosely based on the Spalding method which I have adapted to meet our needs as a large homeschooling family who embraces a lifestyle of learning.
- My goal is to show you how to teach yourself language arts so that you can teach your children language arts – while instilling a love of learning in your children.
- You will learn how to be intentional in language arts instruction so that you are prepared and able to utilize almost any language arts curriculum to your benefit.
- You may even realize you can create your own curriculum using the simplest and cheapest materials like notebooks and pencils!
- I recommend that you teach language arts to your children by example as soon as possible as an extension of parenting.
All About Teaching Handwriting For Homeschool Moms
What is handwriting/penmanship/letter formation? Let’s find out!
Definition of handwriting:
- 1.Writing with a pen or pencil.
- 1.1 A person’s particular style of writing.
Definition of penmanship:
- 1.The art or skill of writing by hand.
- 1.1 A person’s handwriting.
Definition of letter:
- 1.A character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet.
Definition of formation:
- 1.The action of forming or process of being formed.
Preschool Activity Books To Develop Pre-Handwriting Skills
Dot-to-Dot (Dover Children’s Activity Books)ABC-123: K4 Phonics and Numbers, 5th EditionHandwriting Without Tears – Get Set For School – My First School Book – Pre-K Activity BookWipe-Clean Doodles (Wipe-Clean Books)Big Activity Book (Doodle Books (Usborne Books))Mazes (Wipe-clean Books)
Teaching Handwriting In Real Life
- Teaching handwriting to your child means teaching them the correct way to form the letters of the alphabet. This will help them communicate through the written word.
- Toddlers will be ready to learn pre-handwriting skills anywhere from age one and older. Starting them off right is important for future handwriting lessons and formal studies.
- The first step is teaching them how to hold a pencil correctly and reminding them to do so every time they use a pencil until it becomes natural for them.
- It is not necessary to teach regular handwriting lessons until your child is much older since phonics, spelling, and reading instruction can be thoroughly taught orally and visually.
These tips & ideas can be gently introduced around age one and then implemented over the following several years.
- Provide them with mazes, dot-to-dot, doodling, and more drawing activities that are not teaching letter formation.
- Encourage them to draw pictures.
- Develop their fine motor skills through arts & crafts.
- Let them see you writing (the shopping list, a thank you note, a note to daddy, anything!).
- Let them use chalk on a chalkboard or markers on a whiteboard.
- Let them draw with their fingers in rice, sand, etc. on a cookie sheet or in a shallow container.
- Let them draw in the dirt with a stick or on the sidewalk with chalk.
- Use a handwriting program that introduces and teaches lowercase letters first using proper letter formation.
- Let them trace letters with their fingers or pencil, using proper start/end points.
- Teach them to write their name and introduce uppercase letters by explaining how they should capitalize names.
- Use worksheets that reinforce their phonics skills while practicing their handwriting. We love the free PrintNPractice worksheets because they are phonics based.
Handwriting / Letter Formation Manipulatives
The Learning Journey Match It! – Upper & Lower Case Letters – Self-Correcting Alphabet Matching PuzzleEZread Plastic Magnetic Letters – Carson Dellosa Key Education Textured Touch and Trace: Lowercase Manipulative Raised Line Paper Manuscript Lower Case Letter SetLeapFrog Printing Dry Erase Practice Workbook for Grades K-1 with 16 Flexible PagesWipe Clean Workbook Lowercase Alphabet
Making Time For Teaching Handwriting To Toddlers As A Mom Of Many
If you have older children who are doing formal lessons for school several days a week and you need to keep your toddler busy during school time, then include them in your school time!
- Give them fun activities to do that develop their fine motor skills and handwriting skills.
- Have a variety of workbooks and activities set aside that are only for “school time” use.
- Make sure they have their own special school writing materials like coloring pencils and blank papers for drawing.
- I will list recommendations for preschool activity books along with formal handwriting programs below.
- Don’t require them to sit and do one activity for long lengths of time, especially at first. They need to develop their creativity and desire for drawing/writing first.
- Allow them to switch activities often and explore their “school time” activities.
Some things that are great to have for hands-on creativity are:
- Building blocks
- Puzzles with large pieces
- Felt boards with people/animals
- Large building bricks
- Board/picture books
Providing them with opportunities to learn while having fun is the main goal here. Instilling a love of learning and the mentality that school time equals fun time will equip them with the tools they need to succeed at handwriting!
Basic Handwriting Resources We Love
Rod and Staff Homeschool Preschool Activity Workbooks- Set of 4A Fun-Schooling Journal for Moms of Pre-SchoolersFun-Schooling for Moms of PreschoolersDraw Write Now Book 1Draw Write Now WorkbookKick Start Kindergarten Handwriting Without Tears
Handwriting Programs That Compliment Phonics Instruction
The two main phonics programs that I love incorporate handwriting skills. However, I do not follow their scope & sequence exactly, because I let my instincts and my child’s readiness set the pace.
I now start formal handwriting lessons around age five or six when I am teaching formal phonics lessons. I’ve learned that less is more when it comes to seatwork in the elementary grades.
Keep It Simple & Start With What You Have
- If you are using a phonics program that includes handwriting, look it over and decide if it teaches in the way you feel is best.
- If it is a gentle approach that starts with lowercase and proper letter formation, then start handwriting lessons when you feel your child is ready!
- Starting with print or cursive is up to you. I have always started with print, but I do think teaching cursive is important and do so starting around age eight.
Resources For Pre-Writing Skills
- Rod & Staff Preschool Activity Books
- Usborne Books & More Activity / Doodling Books
- A Beka Preschool Books
- Crafty Classroom Maze Writer
- Thinking Tree Journals
Handwriting Programs I Love and/or Have Used
- The Phonics Road To Spelling and Reading
- Spell To Write and Read
- Handwriting Without Tears
- A Beka Handwriting
Once you have taught proper letter formation, copywork is a great way to help them practice their handwriting skills. Even before they are fluently reading or writing, you can use copywork to enhance their language arts experience.
We love the Draw Write Now books that combine drawing with copywork. The art lessons are so easy, that even I can do them!
Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I will do my best to address them!