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Teach Kids Handwriting
Handwriting, for adults, is such an ingrained skill that we barely think about it when we do it. Our hands simply do what our brains command. It’s been so very long since we laboriously learned the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal strokes of the alphabet that it’s quite likely we forgot how very difficult it is.
In fact, it’s so tough that some cultures never developed writing at all.
One way to compare it, conceptually, is to remind yourself – if you’ve ever tried to learn a musical instrument – of how tough it is to learn the notes on a scale, not to mention once you learn the notes on the staff, where to place your fingers on the instrument.
Now: imagine you’re around five years old. You’re learning to read, and recognize letters – AND trying to WRITE them.
Not so easy. Especially when, developmentally, they have not yet got quite the motor skills to effortlessly scribe all those twenty-six letters on a page.
Pretty impressive, when you think of all the things these kids are trying to do at the same time, when you think of it, isn’t it? Sort of makes you want to encourage them all the more.
As adults, we know from experience that the only REAL way to master a skill is practice and discipline. Yet one MORE thing for these poor kids to master. So how do we do that?
We make it FUN. Kids are good at FUN.
Typically, at school, children learn to write their letters on worksheets, where the letters are pre-printed with dotted lines, and the children start out tracing the letters. These letters sit on lined paper – three lines: one on top, to show where the letters end; one just above the mid-line, to show where, for instance, the hump of the lower-case h goes; and one on the bottom, to show where the letters sit.
Parents who want to help kids who are having trouble getting the hang of this handwriting thing can print their own worksheets, free, on their computers.
At the Larabie Font web site, parents can download a font (for free) called “Primer Apples,” which is a dotted-line font that is nearly exactly the same as the one kids use at school. Once downloaded, parents can create their own worksheets on their own computer, using any word processing program, on a Mac or a PC.
Additionally, there are a variety of online resources that parents and teachers can use to generate automatic worksheets to print and use.
One way to motivate your child to actually complete the worksheet is to make sure the content is of particular interest to the child. Avoid “See Spot Run,” and instead try “Pokemon” and “Piplup,” if that’s where their interests lie.
Positive reinforcement works wonders, too, as most teachers can attest. For every worksheet completed, you can add a star to a calendar chart you post. (Let’s hear it for dollar store stickers!)
If the child reaches five stars, or ten stars, or whatever goal you negotiate, he or she can choose a toy from a bin. (Again: let’s hear it for the Dollar Store!)
Keeping track of his or her progress on a calendar chart will keep your child motivated and show him or her tangible, real progress, which kids can grasp easily, and will feed their enthusiasm for the project.