How to turn scribbles into letters
Scribbling is the earliest form of learning to write. Although every child will master the art of writing in their own time, encouraging your child to write in any form will help their development.
The random squiggles your child makes as a toddler will gradually evolve to become recognisable as letters and shapes. Although it may not look like it, scribbling requires coordination and strength; your child must hold the pencil, apply enough pressure to make a mark, and hold the paper still to draw on. By practising this they will develop greater control and begin to create patterns – this is how toddlers invent their own version of words.
Encouraging your child to ‘write’ and ‘draw’ through scribbling has several benefits, including:
- fine motor control
- emotional expression
Fine motor control is a basic skill needed for day to day activities such as brushing your teeth, using cutlery, and holding a pencil. Children begin scribbling by holding a crayon or pencil in their fist – this helps to strengthen and control the muscles in their hands and fingers. Typically by the age of two or three children are able to progress to holding a pencil between thumb and index finger.
Children may start to practice writing around the age of three or four. As they learn individual letters first you may start to notice recognisable shapes interspersed with their drawings and scribbles. By reading and watching other people write, your child will begin to understand how letters and words work together and relate to sounds and objects. When children create their own spelling of words they are making a connection between the way the word sounds and how it is written – you can help them develop this understanding further by reading aloud to them while pointing at words in the book.
By the time they start school your child will have a basic understanding of words and how to write. They will then be taught how to write in lines from left to right, with correct spacing, spelling, and using upper and lower case letters.
Writing comes with practice so encouraging literacy skills early on, as soon as they are old enough to scribble, will help as they get older. Useful tips include:
- Rather than enforcing writing time, make art resources available at any time and give your child the freedom to express themselves however they want.
- Providing resistive materials such as dough, clay, or bread dough will help your child’s hand strength.
- Forming letters can be hard for children so guiding them through the movement of writing will help them remember the patterns of letters and words.
- Find out which method their school teaches so your child won’t be confused by two different movements.
- Holding the pencil correctly is another aspect of learning to write. Young children can be clumsy so taking the time to teach them the tripod grip will give them better control over the pencil as they write or draw.
It’s important not to push your child or try and make them learn faster. Often children struggle with writing because they’re trying to do it too quickly. Slowing down the formation of letters and ensuring they have the right construction is essential for them to improve on speed and control. Mistakes are a normal part of learning a new skill and having patience with your child is necessary to keep them interested and enthusiastic.
STABILO Early Writers’ Pack has everything you need to get your toddler making shapes on the page. Download our activity pack now http://www.stabilo.com/uk/o/teach
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