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My 4 year old has been practicing his letters and numbers more and more and I am so proud of how far he has come! We have been practicing for only a few months now but I wanted to share some tips that have worked for us with you momma’s out there trying to teach your kiddos to write their name.
Before ANYTHING… teaching proper pencil grasp is so important! Before I even thought about teaching my son how to write his name, we practiced every day just how to properly hold his pencil. We worked on building those hand muscles by using tongs to pick up items and playing with play dough and putty. ( A fun game for him was hiding little toys and beads and coins in the putty and then he had to dig them out!)
Any time he held a crayon,marker or pencil, I would correct his fingers and gently place them where they were supposed to be. He learned very quickly how to hold a pencil the proper way, but if he would start to hold it incorrectly I would give him a small broken crayon to work with instead, forcing his fingers to hold the crayon with a proper tripod grip.
After they have mastered that skill, THEN you can move on to tracing and printing those basic pre-writing activities such as tracing horizontal lines, circles, vertical lines, intersecting lines, and diagonal lines. Pinterest is an amazing resource for free pre-writing worksheets. There are super cute themed tracing worksheets to help practice that pencil control and learn those fundamental lines and shapes first. Once your child feels comfortable with that, then you can start introducing letters and numbers.
We started out with teaching him how to write his name first. He practiced over and over and now he is so proud to sign his name on birthday cards or on top of a picture he has colored. Children often can recognize their name before being able to write it out themselves, so have their name all over your house !We have it on the fridge, on a stepstool, on his bedroom door, we write it on the chalkboards in his playroom… the more they see their name, the more familiar with it they will be !
Though my son does enjoy plain old tracing and copying letters and numbers, it can get boring quite quickly for most children. Now is the time to start getting creative on how to teach them those necessary penmanship skills while teaching them the shape of each letter of their name! Printing repetition can be successful with some children, but others, like my son, need a more multi-sensory and hands-on approach to learning.
Here are some simple activities that we do each week:
- Using shaving cream, have your child trace their name their finger-you can even print and laminate a piece of paper with their name printed on it and have it underneath the shaving cream
- Have them use bath crayons to write on the wall during bath time
- Fill a shallow tray or baking sheet with rice and have them write with their finger
- Using play dough to form the letters
- Use small beads, dry pasta, or stickers to build each letter (glueing small sticks on paper to form each letter is also fun!)
- Use Wikki Stix to form letters (this is a great activity to bring with at restaurants!)
- You can get handwriting paper from the Dollar Tree and write out their name in a highlighter first and then have your child trace it
- Using chalk on a chalkboard, write out their name and have them erase each letter with their finger while tracing the letters (making sure to keep reminding them where to start on each letter-top to bottom)
- Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and have them copy underneath in their favorite color
- Trace it on a tray of colored sand (I get mine from the Dollar Tree)
- Have alphabet magnets on your fridge or on a baking sheet and have them trace the shape with their finger and then spell out their name out-loud.
- We sing silly made-up songs spelling out his name while we work
- Go through your old magazines with your child and have them cut out the letters of their name and then glue them onto construction paper making a name collage
- Have them write their name in the dirt/mud in your backyard
- Write their name outside on the sidewalk with chalk and then have them take a small wet sponge or brush to trace and erase each letter
- Use Play Foam to shape the letters. We got ours from the dollar section at Target and it comes with double-sided alphabet cards.
Some things that worked for us:
- Something else that was very important for us was taking lots of sensory breaks when learning ! My son has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) so getting up to move and get that Proprioception input made the world of difference for us. “Heavy work” was the most successful for our son for breaks- meaning we let him do such things as push a laundry basket around the room that was filled with heavy toys, do animal walks around the room or doing a little obstacle course…
- Using a weighted blanket or “snake” in his lap always helped him to sit still a little longer as well as diffusing calming essential oils such as lavender.
- Having a small child sized table can be helpful as they should be sitting up straight in their chair with their feet on the ground or resting on a small stool. The table should be just above elbow height for them.
- Make sure you turn off the tv or tablet while they are working so to not distract them.
- Calming music always helps my son to focus while doing his work.
- If your child is showing no interest in starting or finishing their work, try a positive reinforcement chart! We have used a simple sticker chart in the past where Liam would get a star each time he finished an activity. Once the whole chart was filled up he got a new book or toy or a trip to somewhere special.
I would love to know how you teach/taught your kiddos to write their name! Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading.
Have a beautiful day !