The way kids grasp their tools in preschool will set the stage for later writing in school. So it’s important that they’re taught right from the beginning, before bad habits set in. Or they might end up like my daughter: straight A’s in every subject but handwriting! Here’s some tips to help your little learners as they begin their handwriting journey.
How to Teach Handwriting in Preschool
Step 1: Don’t Teach Handwriting in Preschool
Let me be clear: you should not be doing an excessive amount of handwriting in preschool. Don’t force handwriting drills and worksheets on your kids. It’s not developmentally appropriate.
Step 2: Set Good Habits
But for students who do like to write, complete worksheets, draw, or color, try to encourage them to hold their tools properly and practice fine control of their tools. Otherwise, they might develop improper habits and muscle memory that will be difficult to overcome later.
For example, there are definitely benefits of creative expression. But I also see the benefit in occasionally providing coloring pages and asking students to stay within the lines.
When students color in the lines they:
- Learn to be precise
- Strengthen fine motor skills
- Practice patience and perseverance
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is an excellent student. She enjoys learning and has been reading and writing for years. However, she’s having a hard time with her handwriting grade this year! First grade is so far perfectly challenging for her (her teacher is excellent about differentiating for her reading ability!). Her writing is legible, but not precise at all.
She is consistently missing points for incorrectly forming letters and missing the lines. I wish I had encouraged her to be more precise from the beginning (yes, she would ask for handwriting worksheets as a 4 year old!) and set that habit early.
Instead, if she writes without really concentrating on her handwriting, some letters are formed totally wrong (from habit) because I didn’t have her correct them early on.
I’ve had some students who enjoy completing worksheets. My suggestion is to keep a folder of tracing or handwriting worksheets available for students who want to do them during centers!
Step 3: Strengthen Those Fine Motor Skills
The same finger movements that hold a pencil are used to tie a shoe. I’ve noticed that my kids who do well with writing their names have a much easier time learning to tie their sneakers! Which makes sense, since both tasks rely on fine motor skills.
So handwriting skills can actually be developed by playing! In fact, handwriting skills should be developed through play in preschool – NOT writing. Writing will come later. During the preschool age of development, we’re just strengthening fine motor skills. You can read more about playful learning in this post.
And for a ton of fine motor games, all you have to do is go to Pinterest! Pinterest is an excellent resource for teachers! Here’s my Fine Motor Skills Board you can follow or browse for ideas.
You can always make up your own activities, too. Anything that works those finger muscles are going to help strengthen pencil grip and give stronger control.
I like to incorporate a little handwriting into every day with our Morning Work, which we use right after our Calendar Time Routine. Name writing is the only “formal” handwriting we do in preschool. We do use some tracing worksheets to practice control, but other than that, we develop our skills through play.
Get this FREE worksheet HERE.
For more practice, check out my Best-Selling Prewriting Worksheets Pack on TeachersPayTeachers.com!
For students who are developmentally ready for some formal handwriting practice, you might find these resources helpful.