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The Importance of Pre-Writing
Writing is a skill that most people use every single day, whether it be writing a note to a friend or writing a check to a utility company. Even in the age of technology, written word is still everywhere. But how do you teach a young child the proper way to write? The first step is simple... pre-writing. Pre-writing is learning the skills necessary to begin writing. Pre-writing is an important step because it teaches children the correct way to hold a pencil, how to use a good, firm grip, and emphasizes the use of fine motor skills. Pre-writing also helps children with the development of hand/eye coordination, learn that words go left to right, and that lines of writing go top to bottom on a page.
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There are many activities available for preschoolers to learn tracing. The first thing that you must know when preparing to have your students trace is what is developmentally appropriate. The age of your group of students will greatly affect what they should be tracing. For instance, children under the age of two should just be learning to hold a writing utensil and scribbling. This is because they are still developing the fine motor skills that are required for more complicated motions and are unable to control their movements. At the age of two, children may begin to practice tracing straight lines and perhaps even curves, as the control of their muscles increases. At three, they may begin to trace more difficult shapes. If they master this skill, they will then be ready to begin working on letters and numbers. Please remember that all children reach readiness at their own pace, and these are just general guidelines.
Below is a list of possible tracing activities that can be used in the preschool setting. Remember that young children need variety, so remember to switch up the activities often.
- Have students using their fingers to trace a raised or textured letter/number/shape.
- Write what you would like the students to trace in a dark marker. Cover the paper with tracing paper, and allow the students to trace the writing with pencil or marker.
- Provide the students with four different colored crayons. Have the students "rainbow write" their words by tracing over the same words/letters/numbers/shapes four times... once with each color. The students love this because it is not only fun, but it creates a beautiful paper.
- Use erasable tracing sheets that allow the students to trace the same writing multiple times. You can often buy erasable tracing sheets at teacher supply stores, bookstores, and more. If providing these erasable sheets for each student is too costly, you can easily make your own by laminating your own writing sheets. You can also see http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-preschool/50597-making-reusable-workbooks-and-placemats/ to learn more about how to create your own reusable tracing materials.
- Have students trace a variety of things. Even once a child has progressed to tracing words, it is good to have them practice other things. Some suggestions are straight lines, curves, letters, numbers, their name, shapes, and pictures. One place that is great for line and curve tracing worksheets is Kidzone. A site that is wonderful for alphabet letters, numbers, and names is print activities.
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Making it all Work
This may seem very easy, but what do you do if you have a student that is not ready to begin tracing? As mentioned above, a child may learn to hold a writing utensil through scribbling. There are also many other activities that help students work on the fine motor skills needed to write. Some of these activities include:
- Squeezing clay
- Forming letters or numbers out of clay
- Stringing beads on string, thread, or yarn
- Playing with a stress ball
- Tearing paper
- Cutting paper
- Lacing cards
- Basket weaving construction paper strips
This information should help preschool children begin to develop the strong motor skills and other pre-writing skills needed to be successful in kindergarten. By using these preschool tracing activities, you will be better equipped to create better writers!