In earlier posts, I have shared some basic principles of teaching handwriting using a laminated chart and writing with a whiteboard marker.
Today, I would like to share some step-by-step tips to help teach print to a beginner writer:
Each of these exercises will form the writing lesson for the day – keep it short and happy! Repeat the first 4 steps each time you begin a new lesson.
- Notice the “man” in the margin – his head is in the head line, his body is in the body line and his legs are in the leg line – (Let your child add eyes & a smile to his face) This “man” is vital for letter placement. We draw men in all our margins of our lined paper and then begin the writing. This helps prevent the missing lines or squashing letters too close to the previous line.
- All, ALL, ALL, ALL the letters sit on the body line – (let your child underline all the letters with a coloured whiteboard marker)
- ALL tall letters start in the head line – (use a whiteboard marker and let your child draw all the tall letters in a new colour)
- Some letters have shapes that “hang” down in the leg line – (Use another colour whiteboard marker and let your child draw over the ‘”legs” of these letters)
- Many letters have circle shapes – (let your child draw over all the round, circle-shaped letters)
- Many letters have straight lines – (use a coloured marker to draw over the straight, stick shapes)
- A few letters have dots – (find them and dot them with the whiteboard marker)
- Your child can continue to find similar shapes – candy-canes, lines that make crosses, snake shapes, etc.. Allow them to make any associations with the shapes and use words or pictures. This is important for them to remember the specific letters and their differences.
- Now you are ready to start each letter! Find the 1 on each line. Tell them this letter starts on the head line/ just under the body line. Mom must draw and explain. Draw the first shape, describing where it touches lines, bends, curves, becomes straight until you get to number 2. Now begin the 2nd part of the letter describing where the line/ dot/ crossing line/ straight line starts and finishes.
- Let your child copy exactly what you have done. Talk about and describe exactly what you did. The child must remember where to start, slide up without lifting his pen, go straight, start to curve and so on.
- Once your child has successfully copied that letter, move on to the next. Do only about a row a day when starting. If they make any mistakes – lifting the marker instead of sliding it up or down a line already drawn/ making it too big or too small, going over a line etc. – let them wipe it out and try again. We are aiming for 1 good, clear letter formed correctly! Use humour – “Oh dear, that body looks too fat! He ate too many cookies! Let’s try draw him round, but not so wide!” or “Wow! That ‘c’ is floating – let’s try draw him sitting on the line!” 🙂
- Once your child can draw over all the lines with care and correct formation, he can do the lower case chart with staring dots. Talk through the letter formation and watch for correct style, size and starting points.
- Once your child can do the lower case letters, you can introduce him to the upper case (capital) letters. Remember with capitals:
- They ALL start on the head line!
- They ALL sit on the body line!
- None hang down into the leg line!
- Pick up your pen to draw each shape. They are too big to slide up or down – e.g.: “Capital A – Start on the head line, draw a straight slanting line that leans forward. Pick up you pen and make another long straight line leaning back. Pick up you pen and draw the small middle line across the body line to join the tall lines.”
I hope these tips help! 🙂 You can download all these charts on my Free Handwriting Pages