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Paving the Way to Good Penmanship

Once my child could easily recognize numbers and all the letters of the alphabet, I was anxious to have him practice writing them. My child, however, had very little interest in writing the same letter or the same number repeatedly; he did not like to practice. Really, who could blame him? Even I, his control freak mom, could see how boring it was.

Enter Peggy Kaye, author of Games for Writing. I signed said book out of the library and it completely changed my perspective. She suggests developing writing-related skills, such as holding the pencil properly and moving the pencil along the paper, rather than focusing on having the child write letters. Here is a game she devised:


Draw a border along the margins of a piece of paper, allowing two spaces or "doors". Draw some short lines within the border. To make the game easier, space the short lines further apart.


After your child gets better at it, you can make this game more challenging by drawing more short lines and spacing them closer together.


Now have your child (while holding the pencil properly) find his way through this "maze" without touching the short lines with the pencil, in from one "door" and out the other.

Children with perfectionist tendencies (like my eldest) might freak out a little bit each time they touch a short line (as my eldest would do). All you have to do is assure them it's all right and say encouraging things about the effort they're making. In due time, they'll be masters of the pencil and they'll be zipping around those short lines, easy as pie.


To save paper, I also use our Magna Doodle.



To be honest, I'm now happy with any activity my children engage in that even remotely resembles writing. Colouring is a fun activity for both my boys, and my 3-year-old enjoys scribbling with markers on a piece of paper (though he still needs the occasional reminder to hold the marker properly). I discovered that, with my older son, once he developed confidence in his use of a marker on paper, I didn't have to push him to practice writing letters - he started doing it all on his own.

I hope your kids have fun with this!


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This article is great insight into the individual development of fine motor skills. Every child has their own timeline and pushing a child to write too soon, before their fine motor skills are fully developed can be frustrating for both the teacher/parent and the child, and lead to a dislike of a naturally enjoyable activity. As a homeschool mom some additional tips are to let them write on a big black board or white board so they are not depending only on small, fine, motor movements, or are not having to stay within the constraints of lines on a paper. Other things my kids loved doing in the early years, were writing in pudding or yogurt in a cookie sheet, and "painting" with water and a large paint brush out on the driveway. We practiced letters and shapes, and had fun doing it.