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It always makes me a little bit nervous when I hear about a 2 or 3 year old who can already write half of the alphabet. While children can learn to read at age 2 or at age 8, handwriting is different. A child’s hand simply is not physically developed enough to have the fine motor skills for handwriting until around age 5 or 6. Yes, children CAN learn to write at an earlier age, but to do this, they have to hold a pencil incorrectly. The push for children to learn handwriting too young has led to kids learning to write in a maladaptive way, creating a bad habit that will take a long time to unlearn later on.
Check out the difference between these x-rays.
A child’s hand is considered fully developed by age 7. Before then, many of the “bones” are actually just cartilage that over the course of several years will calcify and harden into regular bones like those of an older child or adult. But until that happens… CHILDREN CAN’T GRIP A PENCIL THE WAY AN OLDER CHILD OR ADULT CAN. It’s physically impossible. This is why we do fine motor skill practice for preschoolers. It helps build up all the muscles that connect to the bones in the hand and the wrist so that children have better control over those bones. Once the bones are fully hardened, a child will be physically capable of so much more, including proper handwriting.
Even though actually writing letters with a pencil isn’t recommended until a child is 5 or 6 and can properly grip a pencil, there are many ways that you can help your kiddo practice PRE-handwriting skills! Basically, pre-handwriting skills introduce them to the concept of writing letters (that we can use our hands to form letters ourselves), all while practicing those fine motor skills and getting in some sensory play.
Cheerio Tracing is one of the easiest pre-handwriting activities… and one of the most fun!
You can find my FREE ABC Tracing Cards here and my FREE Number & Shape Tracing Cards here.
You’ll need cardstock to print these on for durability and to laminate them so they stay clean. Once you laminate them, the concept is easy! Show your kiddo how to form letters using Cheerios (or almonds or raisins or whatever small food you want to use). If you don’t want to play with food, we’ve also done this with colorful plastic counters instead; these work just as well and can be re-used for a bunch of different homeschool activities.
How did Cheerio Tracing go for you and your kids? Comment and let me know!