Topic | Handwriting for early readers

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  • Rebekahy

    I know we’ve discussed handwriting programs at length, but I’m wondering what to do about teaching handwriting when your children learn to read MUCH earlier than they are capable of writing.  How can you teach cursive first if your child already knows the print letters?  I’d much rather have them reading than writing – so I don’t want to confuse them.  My 2.5 year old already knows all of her basic alphabet sounds (thank you leap frog letter factory) and on her own is starting to form letters – no encouragement from me – I’m not inclined to discourage her from writing, but I dont’ want the same thing to happen that happened with my older two – which is they taught themselves to write all their letters and now they still struggle with making them “correctly”.  I want something easy – even the thought of teaching handwriting turns my stomach – I feel about handwriting how most people feel about calculus – I would MUCH rather teach calculus!




    I don’t have any real answers.  Embarassed  My DD was reading fluently at 3 and totally despised writing.  She’s now 10 and still doesn’t enjoy it.  I gave her plenty of space, tried to not force it, tried to strengthen her hands w/ play-dough and such, and well, I’ve just decided its not her thing.  She still needs to be proficient, and actually, her formation of letters is fine, she just doesn’t love it. 

    My DS also was an early reader just like his sister, but writing doesn’t bother him the same way.  I give him traceable copywork (both of them actually), but really need to work w/ him more because his writing isn’t as neat.  I don’t want to push too hard because of all the issues I’ve had with his older sister. He doesn’t “love” copywork, but its not the bane of his existence either, like it is for his sister.  Wink

    I do not remember either of my children caring much for writing at 2. Drawing yes, but not trying to write too many letters, they loved books and that was their focus. 

    I guess what I would suggest is things you can do to strengthen your child’s hands for writing.  My DD did things like play-dough but when it was time for her to start learning how to write, she complained it hurt her hands.  In retrospect, I would have done more.  I’ve often wondered if its sensory.


    We had two really young ones who wanted to print early – we let them go for it, but just made sure they were going in the right directions for letter formation (give them a sheet that shows a starting dot and arrows to follow).  I found if I sat with them for less than five minutes just to make sure they started in the right spot and followed the arrows, we had no troubles.  Once they knew the correct way to write the letter, then I would add something else – “Okay, now try to stay on the line at the bottom of the letter.”

    If you’re always working towards improvement, I don’t think it can go wrong.  The letters aren’t going to look perfect, but if she is going to print with or without you, you can at least teach her the correct way.  The beautiful handwriting will come later with improving motor skills (at least it did with ours). 

    It’s not tough, you can do it!


    Get Pencil Pete and let him do it!

    (But you should still supervise)   🙂

    Rachel White


      I would encourage you not to have her use a pencil yet, just the fat crayons. Using magnet letters could be a good distraction from the letter writing, since your concern is valid in that you don’t want her developing the “habit” of poor formation. It’s good advice given above to encourage hand strenghtening, too

      I don’t know what you think of Handwriting without Tears letter style; I wasn’t crazy about it either and have since, with a 10 yr. old who enjoys writing now, changed her print style from HWT to DN just fine a year ago. However, their early pre-k and K materials are wonderful since it was developed by an occupational therapist.

    At her age the Wooden capital letters and cards would be fun and the Stamp and See Screen (this one was great because she could stamp it and then trace over it with the little magnetic pen that’s designed specifically for little hands); my dd enjoyed the Pre-K Wall cards to trace with her finger, color and hang-up on her wall to look at (learning by osmosis around here!).

    They have a new product, which I think is very age appropriate for your dd (It wasn’t around when my dd was little), is the Roll-A-Dough letters. Then around 4 or so, the Chalkboard for free-hand work.

    HWT Pre-K




    My little ones love writing letters and words in sand. We just have some in a rectangular ziploc-style container. I do have to dampen it occassionally but they love this and it is great for developing those finger muscles.

    You can also print out large letters (you can choose the font based on the HW style you plan to teach) and laminate them or put in page protectors. Then you can have your child use play-doh to form the letters. You can take this a step further and print out actual words too. My little ones love this too.

    I also made letter tiles out of milk jug caps. We are teaching vowels by making them on red caps. The consonants go on the blue caps. I have neighbors, grandparents, friends saving these caps for us. The kids all use them, even my oldest for spelling words.

    We use Spelling Power and use the multi-sensory approach for spelling. The caps I made with Sharpie marker! And the best part: FREE. I have pictures on my blog at the very end  of this post:


    Thanks for all the great ideas!

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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