looks just right. Easily frustrated (and with a tendency to accumulate a collection of crumpled papers), they focus too much attention on the how of writing at the expense of what they are writing. They certainly may get where they’re going, but, by the time they arrive, they’re so exhausted, they’re not sure they ever want to go back.
DIY: Alphabet Chart
Copy the alphabet chart from the templates section, or use it as a guide to make your own chart using markers and large paper or poster board, and post it by your child’s writing space. Looking at each letter with its arrow guides is the best way for children to realize that every letter has its own road map. By placing this chart in your children’s writing area, you are teaching them to follow the best path when writing (and that it’s okay to ask for directions).
Luckily, this is easily preventable with a little help. And I actually mean a little. This isn’t tough stuff we’re talking about here. (If it was, would someone have coined the term, “As easy as learning your ABCs”?) Sure, it’s a little effort up front. But like teaching your children to tie their own shoelaces, pedal a two-wheeler, or look both ways before crossing the street, it’s a sound investment with big rewards. The payoff is kids who are off and running on their own. So very worth it.
Here are a few basic alphabet-writing rules to live by:
1. Always start letters at the top, and make all vertical strokes from top to bottom.
2. Make horizontal strokes from left to right (to be efficient, letter strokes should move in the same direction that writing moves across the page, so your hand isn’t going back and forth).
3. Make circular strokes (capital C, G, O, and Q and lowercase a, c, d, e, g, and q ) in a counterclockwise direction.
4. To prevent reversals in the most commonly flip-flopped letters, b and d, teach these letters using different movements. Lowercase b starts with a straight line down and then has a small curve, while lowercase d starts with the small curve (as if you were writing a c ) and then adds a straight line down. Mind your p s and q s as well: p starts with the line down and then the curve; q starts with the curve (like a c ) and then the line down.
10. Multisensory Learning Rocks!
When it’s time for your children to learn to write their ABCs, there’s no better way to start than by putting the shape of each letter right in the palms of their hands.
It’s one thing to sing the ABCs, or to recognize them by sight. Getting a feel for the alphabet, on the other hand, is something else entirely. And a feel for the alphabet is exactly what children need in order to learn to write.
This is because the alphabet is not just a set of little picture symbols or a collection of sounds. Each letter is also a movement. (For example, A is a big downhill line, hop back to the top, downhill the other way, and a little line across. B is a big line straight down, hop back to the top, and make two little curves. And C is one great big curved line down. Get the picture?) Each letter has its own unique choreography. If children learn the right moves, their writing will dance across the page gracefully. If they make up the steps as they go along, however, writing becomes a struggle along the lines of dancing with two left feet.
When children manipulate three-dimensional letters (such as alphabet puzzle pieces or magnetic alphabet letters), they get to run their fingers along the lines and curves as they look at each letter and say its sound. The touch system sends information to the brain along with the visual and auditory systems. What a learning experience! Multisensory information makes the brain positively light up from all of the connections it is making. In other words, when children’s brains process input along several sensory channels at the same time, everything just makes more sense.
In addition to manipulating letters, children can
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