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Tips to Teach a Preschooler to Write Letters and Numbers

Updated on May 28, 2015

Why You Should Teach Writing in the Preschool Years

Writing can be a difficult task for many school age children. They have to focus on trying to form letters correctly within the lines, while also trying to spell the word correctly. Their hands tire easily because the muscles used for writing don’t have a lot of strength yet. This can be overwhelming to young children and cause a lot of frustration. Bad experiences with writing may even turn some kids off. They may stubbornly refuse to write later on because their initial experience with it was a bad one.

Teaching writing in the preschool years may make writing easier in the school age years. A child who is already experienced with writing letters will have less to focus on when first doing writing at school. Once your child can write, you can also teach them to spell simple words like cat and dog. That way they can get used to writing and spelling when there is no pressure involved. This may lessen frustrations with writing later on.

Teaching a child to write should ideally begin in the infant and toddler years. But don't worry if your child is older and you haven't started writing preparation yet. You can still do all of these things with an older child. You can follow the same suggestions. Just do them at the same time rather than in sequence. However, you may want to begin tracing exercises before moving onto letter writing. With an older child, there is no reason to finish the tracing book before starting letters.

Teaching your preschooler to write may reduce or prevent frustration with writing in school
Teaching your preschooler to write may reduce or prevent frustration with writing in school

How to Teach a Preschooler to Write

When your child is about one, they should be able to grasp thick crayons. Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to scribble. Aqua Doodle is another fun option to encourage scribbling.

When your child is about 2 years old, get a tracing book. Kumon makes a tracing book for 2 and up. Initially tracing will be difficult but if you do a little every day (even just a couple of the exercises on a page) your child will likely master the lines very quickly. Both of my kids really enjoyed the Kumon book. Never force your child to do the exercises. Do the exercises when your child wants to do them.

When your child is 3 years old, start teaching them to write simple uppercase letters. L and O are good letters to start with. It may take time, perhaps weeks, for your child to be able to form L for the first time. Don’t worry about that. Do a few L’s with them every day. With both of my kids, they were so happy when they wrote their first L, they ran with the rest of the letters. They were often figuring out how to write letters before I began teaching them. Be prepared for this and make sure you are teaching them how to form the letters correctly. Kumon has both cards and workbooks to teach writing. Have these ready to use with your child.

In my experience, it is best to teach upper case letters first, then numbers. When your child has learned these, move onto lowercase letters, which can be a little harder to form. By this time, however, your child will be very experienced with writing.

Get your child maze books, dot-to-dot books and coloring books. Sit down and color with them regularly. The more time they spend building the muscles needed for writing the better. And these kinds of activities make it fun. Mazes and dot-to-dot books are also great for teaching kids to draw lines. Keep a notebook and pencil in the car, so your child can draw, scribble or write letters. This is an especially good time for very active children to draw and write, since they are captive in their carseats.

Comments on Teaching a Preschooler to Write

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    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I remember my younger son was really eager to learn the letters on apple juices, cereal boxes. It's great to pick up from their own interest. As you say it's better to go with the flow when kids are interested then they don't feel forced and enjoy the learning process.

      Voted up and interesting!