Handwriting: Pre-Writing Shapes for Preschoolers

The road to confident handwriting begins when your child is a preschooler. This practical advice about pre-writing skills comes from children’s occupational therapists at Kids First in Sydney’s northern beaches.

Handwriting: Pre-writing shapes for preschoolers - Advice from children's occupational therapists in Sydney's northern beaches

The importance of Pre-Writing skills for your child

Pre-Writing is an important step that often is overlooked in a child’s preschool years.

Before your child learns to write, he or she needs to be able to confidently and accurately copy and execute shapes.

Many parents are keen to teach their preschoolers how to write their names and other words, but in actual fact, to have a young children practising writing letters before they have mastered most of the pre-writing strokes may not be beneficial.

For example, before children learn to write the letter A, they need to be able to make single angled lines.

If this skill is not developed, the first line of the A will probably be straight. Your child will feel frustrated, and perhaps be unwilling to continue to give writing a go.

Pre-Writing activities to practise at home

Confidence in holding and using a pencil or crayon is expected of children aged 3+ at preschool and of course, it’s a pre-requisite for kids when they start school.

There are lots of things your child can do at home to start building their pre-writing skills.

  • If your child likes to colour in, download picture of Buzz Lightyear or Elsa from the internet so that they have engaging images to get creative with
  • If pencils are not your children’s ‘thing’, try giving them pieces of chalk and let them draw on the concrete driveway
  • There are lots of apps that you can use too… One of our favourite is “Pocket Phonics” which helps children learn letter formations.  (If you use a stylus with the app, you can get double bang for your buck…. Letter formation practice and pencil grip practice!)

Does your child avoid pencils and pre-writing tasks?

Like adults, children often tend to avoid activities that they don’t feel confident about.

If your age 4+ child avoids activities involving pencils, crayons, paintbrushes or other tools that require the use of fine motor skills, this might be an indication that your child’s skills are under-developed.

We wish we had a dollar for every parent who has told us that their little boy’s aversion to colouring is in caused by their preference for running around!

While this might be true, it is developmentally appropriate for a 4 year old to be competent and confident with a pencil, so if you notice that your child is avoiding pre-writing tasks, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

Sometimes, a small amount of help, provided early, is preferable to heading off to school without the skills needed to enjoy life in the classroom.

© 2016 Kids First Children’s Services

Worried about your child’s handwriting skills?

Kids First’s experienced occupational therapists have helped hundreds of children build better fine motor skills.

With the right advice, your child can quickly develop the skills needed to succeed at preschool and school.

Occupational Therapy sessions are conducted on a one to one basis, so they can target your child’s specific needs  quickly. OT is also a health service that is eligible for health fund and Medicare rebates.

Contact Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches to chat about your child’s needs

We’re here to support you and your child - no matter what.

Chat to us today

School Ready: get the guide for school readiness you've been looking for