Teaching a toddler to write depends on a lot of factors such as the ease with which they can hold a pencil or a crayon, their enthusiasm to write or draw, their interest for big or small letters, and more.
Not all toddlers learn to write in the same manner and to teach them can be a test of patience. MomJunction tells you about ways you can teach your toddler to write the alphabet and numbers.
Interesting Ways To Teach Your Toddler To Write:
Your toddler or preschooler may be an enthusiastic artist, wanting to draw random figures everywhere. But to teach him to write will involve more than just stick figure art and random shapes. Here, we give you tips to help him master the task.
- Do not rush to the alphabet or number. Create simple lines and shapes and ask him to copy them.
- Toddlers can either use their fingers or small sticks to trace in oatmeal, sand, pudding, shaving cream, rice, etc.
- You can encourage your toddler to write on dry erase boards, Magnadoodle, or chalkboard. This way he can re-write several times at the same place.
- Allow your toddler time to move at his pace and learn through the process.
- When you feel your toddler is ready for papers and pencils, encourage him to draw shapes and lines before proceeding to letters.
- You can make it interesting using letter tiles, fridge magnets, and alphabet blocks.
- To make writing on paper interesting, add colors by providing crayons and sketches. If you are afraid that your tot may spoil the walls, get washable colors. You may use “jumbo” sized crayons for easy gripping to help teach toddlers to learn how to hold the crayon.
- Make sure that the activity is fun and relaxed. He need not achieve perfection when he has just begun to write. (1)
[ Read: How To Teach Your Toddler To Read ]
How To Teach Your Toddler To Write The Alphabet:
At that young age, writing the alphabet could be rocket science if there is no guidance. Toddlers are at a learning age and have the enthusiasm to pick everything they see. Getting them to write the alphabet shouldn’t be tough, but start with the uppercase letters and then migrate to lowercase, just to prevent confusions among ‘p’, ‘q’, ‘t’, ‘l’, ‘i’, etc.
- Explain shapes through various objects like balls, the moon, coils, ice cream sticks, etc.
- Encourage them to trace by writing a letter between two broad lines.
- Put dots in the form of a letter and ask him to join them.
- Write a letter while he is watching and help him trace it by holding his hand.
- Make them draw on big sheets and help them remember by speaking the structure out loud. For example: For ‘Z’, you could teach your little one, “A small line across, a big line diagonal, and a small line across”. This would make it fun for them to remember.
- You could also name the shapes of the letters. Q becomes a cat, P becomes a tongue out, etc.
How To Help Your Toddler Write Numbers:
Numbers work much like the alphabet. They come with their own rules and confusions. If you spin yarns around how a preschooler can learn to write numbers, it would help him. Remember anything less mundane is bound to get your preschooler’s attention.
Numbers should be taught the same way as the letters.
- Explain basic shapes like a half circle (in case of 3), or two small circles (like an 8).
- Start slow and rough. Make big numbers, preferably on sand or shaving cream. This would engage them in the activity. Move to smaller boxes gradually. Do not expect your toddler to get the perfect number shape.
- For numbers like 5, train them with curved lines first and then ask them to make it solid.
- For numbers like 4, teach them variations and let them choose the one which is easier to draw.
- Teach them differences between 1and 7 (1 would not have a hook), 5 and 2 (they are not exactly mirror images), and 9 and 10 (9 has a circle and the line attached, and 10 doesn’t).
- Help them through basic understanding and like the alphabet, even the numbers can be read out aloud while writing them.
How To Teach Your Preschooler To Hold A Pencil:
- Pencil grips vary depending on the ease with which a toddler can write. However, teaching a toddler the most basic grip, like pinching with thumb and index finger while resting on the middle finger, can go a long way in not just having legible writing but also a pressure-free one.
- To begin with, use shorter pencils. This would improve the grip and make the writing easy. Legibility at this point should not be a concern.
- Teach your toddlers to hold the pencil only with two fingers in the beginning. This would mean that their handwriting will be poor but would help them get a good grip.
- After this exercise for a few days, make them hold a small block such as an eraser, sharpener, etc., with the little and ring finger while they are writing.
What If Your Preschooler Seems Reluctant to Write?
Toddlers could have writing problems for various reasons. Hyperactivity, underdeveloped motor grip, and lack of attention, are just a few to name. Identify what the problem could be, to get them back into writing legibly.
1. Develop Proper Hand-Eye Coordination:
- Playing with a bat and ball or various color beads, or practising catches can improve your toddler’s reaction time.
- Ask him to chase your finger or draw a circle and keep moving your finger in and out of the circle.
- This also helps to improve hand-eye coordination.
2. Exercises For Fingers:
- Give your toddler a stress ball and ask him to press it.
- Encourage him to give a handshake.
- Engage him in daily chores such as drying clothes and fixing them with clips.
- You could ask him to close and open his wrist several times or even move his arms around.
- These activities help in strengthening the muscles and give a better grip at the pencil.
3. Write As Well As Draw:
- In addition to writing, encourage your toddler to draw. He can start drawing things that he sees around him.
- These drawings can be basic shapes like stick figures. The idea is to engage him in making shapes.
4. Puzzle Practice:
- Puzzle practice can be a good way to encourage him to write.
- You can cut the letters and put them apart.
- Ask him to assemble them and create a name-puzzle.
- At first, the names can be random and small. Let him take a while to graduate from three letter words to more.
5. Give Rewards:
Positive reinforcement is often successful with children. Buy him stickers, cars, and toys that he loves. Let him show off the prizes and rewards to his friends. This would encourage him to write.
[ Read: Is Your toddler Ready For Preschool ]
Schools And Their Role:
Schools play an important role in making your toddler learn to write. In fact, you will be surprised to see how your reluctant toddler loves to scribble in his book, once he begins to go to school.
Pre-schools induce kids to write and recite through creative ways. Here are a few ways:
- Take up one letter a week, and make them practice on sand plates or whiteboards.
- Take up activities to make toddlers identify the letters. For example, write letters on flash cards and jumble them, and ask the students to find a particular letter.
- Pronounce the letters several times for the kids to catch their sound and repeat.
- Make them to draw straight lines and curves to begin with.
Identifying Problems In Toddlers:
There is no need to trigger the panic button if your toddler seems interested only in looking at pictures. Some children tend to be restless and find it difficult to be seated at one place.
While some are hyperactive, others turn into daydreaming. Toddlers generally have less attention span compared to adults, which is understandable at their age.
For the hyperactive toddlers, not only writing but listening to stories also becomes a problem. Some toddlers may have more energy than others and need more active time and breaks mixed in with learning. You can talk to teachers to rule out the possibilities of ADHD, although ADHD is not generally diagnosed until around age six.
- Preschools help toddlers with such problems.
- Intervention at an early stage can be extremely good for your toddler. So make sure she attends school regularly.
- Toddlers need time to develop their fine motor skills. This means you need to avoid getting frustrated and help him all through the wonderful journey.
- Present writing to toddlers visually as that helps them learn easily.
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