Learning the Letters
Just recently, I watched my favourite four year old hail a tram. Nobody showed him how to do it. I didn’t even know he knew how to do it. He did it because he had seen others do it and he copied. This is how we learn to write and spell – by copying.
But first your child needs to identify and know the letters of the alphabet. This can be fun and easy. Have an alphabet frieze at child height, have magnetic letters on the refrigerator, play alphabet games, read alphabet books…
Most children will soon cotton on and start to make the connection between the shapes and sounds. It’s a good idea to only teach the letter sounds and not the letter names to start with. So for example, rather than say ‘Bee is for ball’, you can say ‘Buh is for ball’. This means that your child needs only learn one name for each letter of the alphabet. Later on you can teach your child the actual names of the letters.
Let Her See You Write
If you want your child to write, it helps for your child to see you writing. She also needs to see the letters and observe at close hand how they are formed. And she needs to see this happen a lot of times. She’ll need to see it every day, for weeks and months and longer.
Show her the letter formation and talk about it. Show her how all letters start near the top, and we always start with downwards movements to form the letters; never upwards ones. You will need to show the letter formation often and in slow motion. And you will need to allow her to do it again and again in many different ways.
9 Ways to Write
When you child has started learning to identify the letters of the alphabet she will want to try out writing the letters. And she doesn’t need to be sitting at the table with paper and pencil to do this. You can be creative in helping your child to learn her letters.
1. Use a stick in the sand.
2. Use a finger on the steamed up window.
3. Use a finger in a little tray of flour or rice.
4. Use a finger in finger paint.
5. Use a paintbrush in paint on paper.
6. Use a crayon on paper.
7. Use chalk on paper.
8. Use chalk on the path outside.
9. And of course, you can use a pencil on paper.
All these ways of writing will help to build up your child’s muscles in her little hand, and they’ll also allow her lots of practice without her getting too bored.
I’ll write about using a keyboard in my next post…
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