Learning the letters of the alphabet is one of the first skills your child needs to develop in order to be able to read. Writing is an essential part of learning, but like anything else, kids' writing skills develop at different ages. The Scholastic website points out there is no need to worry if a child doesn't show interest in writing by age 3 1/2, as it will come in time. Not all children write as early as others do.
Between the ages of 2 and 3 is when toddlers start to become aware of letters. This is also the time when they try to draw and write. If your child wants you to help him, print a letter and then encourage him to try and do the same. Although his scribbles may be indiscernible at first, he knows what he’s trying to write. What may look like scribbles to you means something to him. In time, what he writes will begin to resemble letters. You can help him learn to write better by providing the opportunities and tools for him to practice his writing skills.
Children usually start to identify letters of the alphabet by 3 to 4 years of age. Preschoolers begin by learning the uppercase letters first, as these are simpler to recognize and write. Once kids know at least a few letters, they try to write them. Uppercase letters with straight lines are easier for kids to write than letters that have diagonal lines. Since children this age are generally able to recognize their own names, the next step is trying to write their names themselves, even if they do just a few of the letters. If a child’s name is long, teach her to write her nickname first, since it has fewer letters.
By the time they enter kindergarten, most children can recognize letters and the sounds they make. Once kids can name all the letters in the alphabet, they start learning how to write them in the proper sequence. Even though in the beginning children don’t usually write from left to right, they eventually get the idea. Before the end of kindergarten, children start to write simple, familiar words and should be able to write letters legibly when they go to first grade. In an article for WebMD, Sheldon H. Horowitz, Director, Professional Services, National Center for Learning Disabilities, explains that it helps children to learn the basics of writing when they are learning how to read. Each of these skills builds on the other.
Before a child can learn to write, he must be able to recognize at least some of the letters in the alphabet. While your child may initially learn letters by associating them with pictures, he needs to be able to identify letters by their shapes so that he can write them. His fine motor skills must also be developed to the point that he can hold a crayon or pencil in his hand firmly enough to trace or copy letters. Writing doesn’t always come easily and requires that a child be able to concentrate as well.
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