The Development of Handwriting in Preschool

“Look, Mommy, I wrote my name!” When your child is in preschool, this exclamation could mean anything from scribbles to shaky letters to the beginnings of a real signature. Preschool children are considered “emergent writers” because they are developing the skills that writing requires. For this reason, handwriting in preschool will differ greatly between students. Still, there are key developmental milestones and activities that are essential to handwriting development in preschool. Today we will explore some of the natural development of handwriting in preschool as well as ways you can support writing development at home.

The Building Blocks of Handwriting

The two major ingredients of good handwriting are pencil grip and letter formation. While this sounds simple enough, in fact, there are many foundational skills to be mastered before either of these ingredients are possible. For example, a good pencil grip requires fine motor skills and hand strength that a child develops over time through age-appropriate behavior. In order to make progress on handwriting development in preschool, your child must also regularly engage in activities that strengthen and hone these foundational abilities.

Laying a Foundation

To pave the way for a good pencil grip and letter formation, preschool teachers focus extensively on exposure to the alphabet and challenging (but fun) fine motor activities. Therefore, this is why you see quality preschool classroom covered in posters of letters and words! This is an easy and consistent way to expose preschoolers to letters and their relationships. Additionally, you have likely seen activities like sensory tables, playdough, stringing beads, and finger puppets in your child’s classroom. All of these pastimes offer more than fun. The muscles, coordination, and skills that are required for playing in these ways are the same abilities a child needs to master handwriting. Through the combination of targeted fine motor playtime and regular letter-based activities, preschool teachers prepare a foundation for their students’ later writing success.

The Importance of Order

It may appear that preschoolers are not focused on much writing instruction because they do not often create written content. However, early education experts will tell you that the steps children take in learning to write are essential to success. For instance, beginning to write before developing strong enough hand muscles or an appropriate pencil grip can hinder your child’s future comfort and willingness to write. For this reason, handwriting development in preschool often consists of name writing practice, tracing, and strategic modeling of proper writing.

At-Home Practice for Handwriting in Preschool

As a parent, you may be looking for ways to encourage your child in their handwriting at home. There are plenty of simple ways to promote these skills without investing in worksheets! First, encourage your child to write something every day. It doesn’t need to be extensive or even legible yet. Simply creating the habit of writing daily encourages your child to continue handwriting practice. Secondly, ask for your child’s help in writing tasks. For instance, if they know their letters, ask your child to add simple items to your grocery list (with your help in spelling). If they are not yet able to write all the necessary letters, write the word you need lightly and have them trace it. Finally, modeling is an important step in encouraging your child’s handwriting. Let your child see you writing notes, lists, and reminders, and involve them in the process by showing how you form specific letters and how you hold your pencil.

Handwriting in preschool looks different for every child. Some are able to write extensively before kindergarten. However, others are still developing the necessary motor skills to accurately write their names. Regardless of your child’s ability, spending time with them reading and writing will increase both their ability and confidence. Are you looking for a preschool to help your child develop these important skills? Consider Legacy Academy Berkeley Lake. Call or visit today for more information.