Holding a pencil and forming letters can be tough for kids with writing issues, who may struggle with fine motor skills. Here are some tips to help your child learn these skills.
To help kids get a better grasp when they start learning to write, consider buying some golf pencils. These are the small pencils you see at mini-golf courses and bowling alleys. Their size makes them easier for little hands to hold on to and balance correctly. If you can’t find golf pencils, that’s OK. A broken crayon, half a piece of chalk, or even the short leftover piece of a well-used pencil could work, too.
Get (or make) a pencil grip.
A pencil grip can help your child learn to hold a pencil properly. A great grip is the kind that looks like a squishy blob with fingerprints in it. But you can also make your own. Roll a piece of clay into a ball about an inch across. Poke the tip of a pencil through the middle and push the clay up an inch. Then, hold the pencil as if you’re writing and push your fingers and thumb into the clay to make the indents.
Choose the “write” time to play with food.
Kids can practice writing letters in mashed potatoes, sugar, flour, or even shaving cream. Spread whatever substance you use on a table, in a shoebox lid or on a plate. Kids can use their pointer finger to draw letters and even write small words. Help them remember to move from top to bottom and left to right. Writing this way will help them learn how it feels to make the letters without having to worry about how to hold a pencil or crayon.
Use raised lines and textured surfaces.
Sometimes kids can’t feel themselves making letters when they write. Using raised line paper and textured surfaces can help. To get a textured surface, kids can put their paper on top of something bumpy, like sandpaper or a rough plastic placemat. If they need to feel the lines with their pencil, ask the teacher for some lined paper or use wide-ruled notebook paper. Then trace the lines with fabric paint or school glue and let them dry. Your child’s pencil will “bump” the lines when they write.
Darken or highlight lines.
If kids have trouble staying within the lines when making tall letters (like “T”) and letters with tails (like “y”), it may help to make the lines easier to see. Use three different colored markers or highlighters to trace the top, middle, and bottom lines on lined paper. This can help kids remember that tall letters start at the red line (for instance), small letters stay between blue and yellow, and letters with a tail dip below the yellow.
If kids have trouble with leaving too much or too little space between words, try a “spacekid.” Give kids a clean Popsicle stick. Have them put it down on the table pointing straight up and down. Ask them to draw a face on the top so it looks like a person. This is their “spacekid.” When they write, have them put their spaceman down at the end of a word. The next word starts on the other side of the stick.