Does your child's handwriting look like this?
...by the Reception Year, this is what teachers are expecting to see... letters that are clearly formed.
At this age, handwriting should be about letter formation
Between 4 to 5 years of age, your 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, your 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.
Let me ask you this, can your child do all of these handwriting skills?
This is what they should be doing by now...
Enjoy mark making – finds it fun to draw
Completes handwriting patterns – without a change in direction
Controls the pencil – making all marks on the paper clear and without wobbles
Begins drawing handwriting patterns – following the pattern exactly
3 fingered pencil grip (tripod grip) – when drawing or writing
Uses one hand – has a preferred hand dominance and does not swap hands during writing activities
What happens in school at this 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.
In school, handwriting practice will be 30 minutes a day
During your child's school life this is the most time they will receive to practice their handwriting.
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What can you do?
To help a child control the pencil movements needed to write letters, it is essential that they learn how to form the letters correctly. This will take time to master. To help them, it is better that they learn to write large letters correctly rather than trying to write small letters.
In my experience, children at this age who find handwriting difficult continue to be motivated to keep trying to improve on their work and they are unaware of their difficulties.
Here are 3 easy things that you can do at home:
1. Sand and twigs - 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.
2. Use a handwriting worksheet - Here is an example of what I use for helping children learn to form individual letters. There is an adventurer sheet helping children to write the letter 'a'. There is also an ancient Egyptian themed worksheet helping children learn the letter 'e'.
3. Patterns - If your child is having difficulty with forming cursive letters it would be a good idea to check they can draw the handwriting patterns mentioned in the Handwriting by Age page for 3 to 4-year-olds. This is not a sign they are not progressing but a method of how you can help them without them becoming a reluctant writer. For example, the mmmmmm pattern helps children write the letters 'm' and 'n'.
What to do next?
There are various ways you can help your child.
- You can choose worksheets designed to help them develop their pencil control skills. I create my own and they have been nominated for awards. Yes please, click here!
- Follow my step-by-step 7 day email support called 'Transform by child's writing in 7 days'. It's free 🙂 Fill your details in the grey box above in the 'Want to learn more' section.
- Work with me 1:1 either by Skype or in person. Yes, please, click here to complete the contact form.
*names changed for confidentiality