Many parents ask me how to help their children who refuse to practice handwriting or who have difficulty forming letter shapes with a pencil. There are several things parents can do to help in this situation. Keep in mind that special needs may affect skill acquisition so if your gut says there is an issue, get it checked out. However, even when dealing with a special need, the following activities may help strengthen your child’s fine motor skills and also letter writing skills.
Use clay to shape letters or for fine motor play.
Use a tray of rice or play sand, from your local home improvement store, to draw letter shapes.
Practice using tweezers to pick up small items such as buttons, pompom balls from the craft store, or beads, then sort them into groups according to color, size, or other characteristics.
Bend pipe cleaners/chenille wires into letter shapes.
Use q-tips, toothpicks, or sticky items like Wikki Stix to form letter shapes.
Use finger paint to draw letter shapes.
Use items from nature to create letters and words. (Sticks can draw in sand, leaves can be fashioned into letters, etc.)
Use a different material such as chalk on a sidewalk, white board, or computer drawing program.
You can also use any of these ideas to draw straight, curved, and diagonal lines as well in order to help children practice making the lines that letter shapes use. The key is to get creative, use your child’s interests, and don’t be afraid to complete the activity with your child. It’s more fun when a caregiver participates. 🙂