Between 4 to 5 years of age, a child will continue to learn how to hold a pencil and how to control it. This is when the pencil marks have a purpose and are not random scribbles. As a result, light pencil strokes are likely to disappear.
When drawing shapes, a 4-year-old child should be able to copy a cross and a circle shape. They can write the alphabet letters of V, H, and T. If they cannot do this, it would be a good idea to help them practice these shapes and letters.
At 5 ½ years, a child should be able to copy a square and a triangle shape. They should also be able to write the letters which comprise of basic round and linear shapes. These letters are v, t, h, o, x, l, a, c, w, and y. Drawing remains a very important skill. Your child should also be able to colour neatly between two lines. When drawing a person your child will be able to draw its key features: a head, two legs, and two arms. If drawing a house they will be expected to be able to include drawing a door, window, and roof by the time they reach the end of being 4 years of age.
In school, this is an exciting time for your child and it should be exciting for you too. They will start to learn how to form letters, write their own name and eventually they will learn how to write sentences. At this age, children are often cognitively ready to write however their hand has not yet fully developed. This explains why children’s writing skills will vary across your child’s class.
Handwriting practice should be…
To help a child control the pencil movements needed to write letters, it is essential that they start drawing, practicing and mastering handwriting patterns. These are patterns sometimes called prewriting patterns that are grouped by specific letter shapes. They work by helping a child learn the movements needed to write every letter of the alphabet. For example, the letter m and n are first learned by drawing mmmm shape.
What can you do to help?
Activities that will help a child develop pencil control skills do not always have to use a pencil. They can learn to write the letters of the alphabet in a number of ways. This includes painting using a brush, drawing or playing with twigs. To use twigs, use them like a pencil and make marks in the sand or mud. Alternatively, they can use their fingers to ‘feel’ the letters as they write them.
Want to learn more?
Hi, I’m Sheilagh a children’s occupational therapist and best-selling author. I’ve worked with hundreds of children, parents, teachers and schools. I’m proud and privileged to have been involved in some incredible children who have flourished in confidence and skill when working with me. Including 8-year-old Tom* who started as a reluctant writer and later won a school story writing competition. Then there was Sarah*, aged 7 3/4’s who increased her handwriting speed in less than 2 weeks to above her chronological age. I love helping children love handwriting.Who do you know who I can help? Tell me by clicking here.