Handwriting in the Early Childhood Environment

While not all ideas are new ideas (this philosophy has been around over 100 years!), I feel compelled to share a little bit about handwriting in Primary/3-6/Early Childhood. I'm glad to share about writing, since our (Massachusetts) state is on of the last to keep it in the frameworks.

Throughout my undergraduate work, Montessori Training, Graduate work, and with professional development, I've been to every possible "out of box" handwriting program the world has created for us.
But guess what?  Not all children require the same tools to gain skills.  Ugh.  Is that new?  Nope!  I don't use any of those.  From where I sit, I don't think workbooks have any place in a preschool class or a Montessori 3-6.  The steps listed below can be used in whatever order the child needs.

Before I share what happens in my class, please read these two blog posts about what comes FIRST.  These skills and strengths are necessary before trying to write or learn to write.  Check it out here.   And then here, please.  

Let's go over the fluid steps that I use in my class to teach the important art of handwriting:

  1. Hand strength.  Puzzles with knobs, playing with clay/mud/dough/playwax, eating small food items like cereals/fruits/vegetables.  Think: using the pincer grip for something that comes naturally to little ones, play & eating!
  2. Sound.  Discriminate sounds with games, bells, even letter sounds.  Hearing sounds early can help the child associate letter sounds with their written symbol.  
  3. Art.  The more chances a child has to use art as a creative tool (not creating a product or craft) the better the handwriting is later.  Use the hand first, then the tool.  Brushes, sponges, crayons, pencils, etc.  
  4. Metal Insets. Although this material appears to be a Geometry Work, it was designed by Maria Montessori for writing.  And it works!  Be sure to teach the child the proper use of the material.  
  5. Sandpaper Letters.
  6. Sand Tray.
  7. Chalk.  
  8. Blank Paper.
  9. Lined Paper.


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