My boy is going to be 4 years old soon. Since last few months, I was wondering whether to start writing practice for him or wait for a while. Different viewpoints exist in general on how to teach kids how to write. So I was a bit on the fence myself.
My elder daughter started writing when she was about three to three-and-a-half years old despite being a preemie baby. But my son was happily playing, running around, singing nursery rhymes, recognizing letters and numbers but running away when it came to notebook and pencils.
After observing this for a few months, I decided to work on this aspect before it became an issue. This is what I did. In fact, am still doing.
1. First of all, for some time, I stopped showing and giving him notebooks, pencils and writing practice books totally. He was simply saying that he is "feeling tired" just by looking at them.
Not a good sign! Kids can form likes and dislikes quite fast in this age.
2. Instead, I gave him more of play-dough, kinetic sand to improve his motor skills and make his grip firmer. I let his elder sister play with him so that he could "copy-cat" a few things and learn from her.
3. Pretend play like Doctor-Doctor came in handy too. He role-played the doctor part, checked his "patients" and scribbled something on the prescription notebook. He was willingly doing this.
4. I also encouraged him to do coloring and other art and craft. I again took help of his sister who always indulges in painting, making bookmarks, drawing sketches and so on. He started using crayons, sketch pens and other mediums. The "art" was quite messy but for him it was "a car". In an excitement, he wrote a bit on the wall, their play tent but I chose not to stop his creativity and willingness to write something. Not bad!
Three more tips on the next page...
5. In the pre-school he attends, Teachers taught him to draw shapes, join lines and formed the base for writing letters. He is learning pretty well in the school. I also noticed that my boy remembers the alphabets as a combination of shapes. Example: C as half-circle, E as one standing line and three sleeping lines connected to it and so on.
Each child has his or her own style of thinking and learning. I believe as a parent, we should appreciate and work around that.
6. Next step for me was to take a blank drawing block, notepad and sit with him. I bought a few thicker and easy to hold pencils and a gripper that can be attached to the normal pencil meant for early-writers. I used these tools myself to make him comfortable with the same. Thicker pencils are working quite well for him and improving his writing skills.
This free-flow writing on the blank drawing block and notepad made him confident and removed the mental block he had towards writing.
7. Gradually, I have started giving him Writing Skills workbooks to practice that has joining dots, coloring alphabets and some other interesting activities. Fine tuning and finesse is still needed for him to write well but he has started to like writing for sure.
Kids are by default bright people. It is just that as parents, we need to have patience, skills to adapt to their pace of learning and yes, you should see the progress happening on its own!