Friday, March 7, 2014

Teaching Handwriting 411

Most elementary school teachers have the common complaint that children form their letters in the wrong direction...from the bottom to the top.  Early childhood educators can break this habit by teaching children correct letter placement at a young age.  Correct letters are formed from the top down to the bottom, just like an apple falling from a tree...down!


Form letters from the top down, like an apple falling (preschool handwriting)
photo credit here

In my Handwriting Level 2 Book I have an apple tree template for teachers and parents to help their children write and form letters correctly.  When teaching, ask the child... "what direction does an apple drop?"  Then explain that when you write remember that you begin at the top and go downward,  just like the apple,  because apples fall down!

Teaching preschoolers handwriting using a tree template

Use the apple tree template when teaching the correct placement of each letter.  The tree is divided up into sections similar to the children's lined paper.

child's lined paper
I am sure you're all familiar to this kind of lined paper.


When the children practice using the top middle and bottom lines it is always a challenge. Try color coding the different sections. Children tend to really grasp the tree idea located in my Handwriting 2 (also available as an eBook) book. The top section is green (like a leafy tree top), the bottom section is brown (like a tree trunk) and below the bottom line is yellow (color of tree roots). 

Preschool handwriting tree template for beginning writers

Tree Leaves = Green
Tree Trunk = Brown
Tree Roots = Orange

Not hard...right?  Have the child practicing writing their letter using the tree template.  While teaching the child talk to them about where that letter is formed on the tree.  

Example of using tree template in teaching preschooler how to write letters

Here is an example of how I was able to help Abby to correctly form her letters in her name using the top, middle and bottom lines.  Notice on the capital letter A I drew an apple, reminding her "apples fall down." On the next line we practiced lower case letter 'b.' Notice how I shaded in the tree trunk area for her, reminding her that the bottom part of the letter 'b' is written in the brown, tree trunk area. 

Teach preschooler haw to form letters


For the lower case letter 'y' I shaded in a brown tree trunk area for part of the letter y and then I shaded in the tree roots area orange reminding her that the tail of this letter goes past the bottom line.

example letter on lined paper for preschooler

This simple colored shaded guide takes a few minutes for you to prepare but it is so visually effective. 

teach preschool child how to write letters correctly

Over the past 20 years of teaching I have first hand experience how difficult it is for children to transition to forming their letters using a top middle and bottom lines.  This technique has seemed to make a difference and helped the children feel successful and confident. I hope it helps the children you work with.

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