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Many of our parents ask what they can do at home to help their children excel at school, and our answer is almost always to READ! Reading is so, so important for students. Reading with your child not only helps to develop their language skills, but it also helps improve their eye strength, grow their sense of wonder, learn the mechanics of books (turning pages, reading left to right), and develop a genuine passion for reading. Making reading a daily habit is one of the biggest things you can do to help your child succeed. However, if you already have reading at home mastered, here are some ideas for improving writing skills at home!

Ideas for Improving Pre-Writing Skills at Home

Whether your child is a pre-reader or learning early writing skills, there are several at-home activities that can help strengthen their pre-writing or early writing skills.

1. Play with Play Dough

This one may seem a little unexpected, but playing with play dough is a big way to help your child develop writing skills. This is because squeezing and manipulating play dough helps build hand strength! Hand strength is critical when it comes to writing–it’s hard for little hands to grip a pencil and to grip it with enough strength to simultaneously push down on a paper and move it across the page. Playing with play dough (or modeling clay, magic sand, or other goopy mediums that can be squeezed) can help your child build the strength they need to practice handwriting skills at school without their little hands getting tired.

Girl practicing writing skills by placing cheerios on spaghetti noodles stuck in playdough2. Playing with Beads or O Cereal

Playing with beads helps your child master the fine motor skills required to manipulate a pencil and write! Let your child play with beads or other fine motor activity manipulative (of course, always keep in mind what is age appropriate and supervise as needed if your child is still at the age where they put things in their mouths). One activity we like to do at home is to smush a disc of clay onto the table and stick spaghetti noodles into the top so they’re sticking straight up. Our children can thread beads (or even o-shaped cereal) onto the noodles to practice fine motor skills.

3. Threading or Lacing

Threading or lacing activities also help to develop the fine motor skills that will support writing skills. This activity also has the benefit of having motion–moving from one hole to the next. It supports the idea of following a path (which will be important when tracing letters later).

4. Trace Letters in Sand or Rice

Early writing skills typically begin with letter tracing, but your child is probably already doing a lot of on-paper tracing at school. Instead of making it feel like more schoolwork, make letter tracing fun by printing a big block letter on a piece of paper and letting your child form the letter in a tray of sand, rice, sprinkles, or shaving cream.

5. Water Paint Over Chalk Letters

Take writing skills outside. For this activity, a grownup will write medium-sized letters in sidewalk chalk on the pavement. Give your child a cup of water and large paintbrush and have them practice tracing over the letters in water.

6. Finger Paint

Finger-painting in and of itself is a great activity for hand strength and coordination, but it can also be a fun activity to strengthen your child’s early writing skills. Draw large letters on paper and have your child use finger-paint to paint over them. The tactile experience can help imprint the formation in your child’s mind as well as providing coordination practice.

Additional Tips

Besides the practice activities above, it’s important that your child is exposed to letters regularly. Write their name on belongings or even on their bedroom door or on their bedroom wall if possible, and anywhere else that is appropriate. Write their name when you’re coloring together or playing with sidewalk chalk, or trace different letters in the sand when you play outside. Keep alphabet magnets (if age appropriate) on the fridge and move them into different words each day. The more letter and the more words, the better!

Do you have any pre-writing activities you like to do at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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