Some might call it old-fashioned or unnecessarily fussy, but the skill of penmanship has a charm and elegance all its own. Since the birth of the modern alphabet, writing in clear, legible handwriting has been a fundamental skill. Through kids’ writing practice, children equip themselves to bring this skill into adulthood. This tradition is unlikely to change any time soon, despite the proliferation of digital writing and typing in all its forms.
Clear handwriting is an indispensable skill even for school-age children. This is why parents are encouraged to facilitate their kids’ writing practice. Are you have kids who are still in early childhood in Singapore? Are you looking for ways to get them ready for school? You’ve come to the right place. Here are some helpful tips for helping you in kids’ writing practice.
1. Develop pre-writing skills:
Good penmanship is built on well-developed fine motor skills and manual dexterity. At first, your child may not have the necessary fine motor skills to grip a pencil customarily. The sharpened end pointing towards the writing surface might be tough. They might not be able to hold the barrel of the pencil wedged between the fingers.
Instead, if your child is between the ages of one to two years old, they might hold the pencil in their enclosed fist. This is commonly referred to as the cylindrical grip. It is the only grip possible for children of that age with limited manual dexterity. Working up to the proper pencil grip, known as the tripod grip, is a process that happens over several years until the child is around six years of age. It is usually only at this age that children have the dexterity to do the tripod grip on their own.
Developing manual dexterity
To facilitate the development of your child’s manual dexterity, give them worksheets that allow them to draw and trace. There are many different printable workbooks on the internet that can help teach children to follow lines. They can also trace basic patterns. With these, kids will learn to manipulate their shoulders, arms, wrists, and fingers to prepare them for writing. Also, for their safety, give them crayons to practice their pre-writing skills with. This makes sure that they don’t inadvertently poke themselves with sharpened pencils.
Another important aspect of pre-writing skills is teaching your children about appropriate pressure. Applying too much pressure to a pencil will just snap off the tip. In addition, it could result in cramping and pain in the child’s writing hand in terms of long-term consequences. Observe how much pressure they apply as they do their exercises. Also, advise them to ease off the writing surface when it seems as if they’re applying too much pressure. If necessary, demonstrate to them that exerting a lot of pressure is unnecessary to mark the paper.
2. Use the right materials:
When your child can finally do the tripod grip by themselves, it is time for kids’ writing practice with your supervision. To support them, make sure they have access to the stationery and pencils that are appropriate for their age and skill level.
For writing surfaces, give them four-lined paper instead of practicing their writing on blank book paper or legal pads. These stationeries are for adults with established writing skills and who can control their fingers and wrists well. Four-lined papers designed for teaching penmanship help kids learn to keep their characters straight, evenly spaced. This also ensures the words are more or less the same size until they can control all of those aspects of penmanship on their own without guides.
For kids’ writing practice, once they’ve learned about appropriate pressure, kids can use standard wooden pencils with either a rounded or faceted barrel. Some pencil designs use softer woods like cedar for the barrel. This may reduce the pressure that kids exert on their pencils. Moreover, it helps in preventing repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other writing implements like mechanical pencils or pens should be made available to children once they’ve learned to use wooden pencils well. Mechanical pencils need their users to have a very light touch. The kids who have just learned to write may not have the control needed for this writing implement. On the other hand, pens aren’t advisable as writing instruments for children. Most pens use indelible ink, and kids need to be able to erase their mistakes while they’re still learning to write.
3. Do it together:
Many kids learn by emulation, so one of the best ways to teach them how to write well is to do their exercises along with them. This will help them stave off the boredom and fatigue that comes with repeating the same task over and over. Children usually have relatively limited attention spans. But when your child sees you focusing on a task and completing it, they’ll learn to be able to do the same as well.
They’ll also be able to emulate your body position and movements as you write. This should give them an initial template for how to write comfortably, which they will eventually modify to suit their personal preferences.
While it may be considered cliché, good penmanship is said to reveal a great deal about the writer. Inculcating an eye for detail and an appreciation for precision, as learning penmanship does, will serve your child well in the future.
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