During my daughter’s three year old preschool orientation, the teachers asked the children to write their names on the easel or have their parents help them. They mentioned that handwriting would be a big focus as the school year kicked off.
I was shocked that several children in the class could already write their entire name (last name included), while my kiddo was just starting to learn to write the letter O (really they are just circles, but that’s the same thing right?) Their handwriting was also better than mine as an adult.
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How To Teach Handwriting
I honestly had no idea how to “teach her” to write her name. I knew I would struggle with my kids’ homework later in life, (like high school algebra) but never thought I would struggle with preschool handwriting.
Luckily for me, my mom taught first grade for 30+ years, so I reached out to her for suggestions. She said that one of the best methods for teaching handwriting is to trace letters.
We started practicing on pieces of paper, but my daughter didn’t seem interested and lost focus after a few minutes. So I really needed to think creatively about how to make this fun.
I am a firm believer in play-through-learning at this age. Children will have many years ahead of them sitting in a desk, and practicing with pencil and paper. Let’s take things off the paper and get creative.
Handwriting Using Objects
Aside from letter recognition, it’s important for your child to understand the general structure and sequence of the letters that comprise their name. You can practice this by writing their name on a large piece of paper, and ask them place objects on each letter. The child can easily see that an S curves, while a T is more straight. Also, by writing with objects, you are setting up the next steps in getting them to write directly on paper.
This activity is extremely simple, with minimal prep and clean up time. Write their names on a large piece of paper. Find objects from around the house in order to “write” their name, and let your child play through this fun learning opportunity. DONE!
You can use match box cars, stickers, Barbie shoes, action figures, building blocks, crayons; really whatever it is that’s laying around the house that your child is even remotely interested in, and that you have more than one of. We used these mega blocks, which are fun to build with and also great for sensory boxes and play through learning activities.
Go through each letter of their name first to discuss letter recognition. Then have your child place the objects on each of the letters in order to “write” their name.
Write your child’s name on large butcher block paper, poster board or even across several piece of construction paper. I like using the butcher block paper best, and then you can easily flip it over and pick other fun names to write, later on. We chose to do Mickey and Minnie over here after we mastered our first name.
Let your child go at their own pace. If they want to start with the first letter, GREAT! If they want to skip to the end that is fine too.
You can also talk your way through each letter. “That is a C, can you think of any other words that start with the word C?” “What does a C sound like?”
Remember that it does not need to be perfect, we just want them to grasp the general idea of each letter, and understand the structure of each letter.
After they have done it a few times, encourage and show them how to use the blocks, to write their name in order just like you would on a piece of paper.
At the end we counted how many blocks made up each letter. I also encouraged her to group all the blocks together according to shape, and then color.
We flipped the paper over and wrote down Mikey and Minnie and used crayons to spell out those names. Save the paper for later and take it out on a rainy day, and see if they can recall the activity and complete it on their own.
- Butcher block paper
- Mega Blocks
- Pom Moms
- On a large piece of butcher block paper write your child's name
- Gather several sets of like objects from around the house
- Go through each letter of your child's name and explain how they should use the objects to "write" their name by placing them on top of the letters in nice neat lines
- Repeat with different objects