Letter formation is the basic building block of good handwriting. The ability to form letters properly is directly linked to strong fine motor skills. Proper letter formation is important even for things like reading, letter recognition and memory skills.
Sometimes, it can be a bit intimidating to teach something like proper letter formation to your kiddos. I am so happy to be able to support you in this and making sure that your littles have the skills they need to write correctly!
What is letter formation?
Letter formation is having the skill and ability to form letters of the alphabet.
Why is letter formation considered an important literacy skill?
Letter formation is considered an important literacy skill for many reasons!
Having the ability to form letters is a vital skill, because of course as your child gets older, they will be writing more. The better they are able to form letters the better their handwriting will be.
Correct letter formation is also an important building block for learning to read and spell. Good letter formation truly matters in so many aspects of learning!
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What would cause a child to have poor letter formation?
Poor letter formation can be a big problem, but if caught early it can easily be corrected.
Many people believe that poor letter formation is caused by laziness, however that is not always the case. Often times, the child may not know how to properly form a letter. Almost anyone can look at a letter and draw it, but to properly write a letter takes skill and proper instruction.
Another cause of poor letter formation is underdeveloped fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the basic building blocks to being able to properly form letters.
Poor pencil grip can also be another reason for poor letter formation. It is challenging to write properly if you are not holding the writing utensil correctly.
If you believe your child or student is struggling with letter formation, start by examining these 3 things!
What skills show that a child is ready to learn letter formation?
Here are a few things that I look for when considering teaching letter formation:
- Fine motor control
- Gross motor control
- Comfortable crossing the midline
- Strong pencil grasp
- Ability to draw, trance and create patterns
What are the benefits to teaching letter formation?
Learning proper letter formation has benefits that seem small but have so much impact on your child and their future. These benefits include:
- Writing speed and efficiency
- Letter recognition
- Proper grip which can help prevent cramping and strain
At what age should letter formation be taught?
Remember that all children are different, however around age 3-4 children are typically skilled enough to learn letter formation.
Tips for teaching letter formation
Okay, so we know why letter formation is important, but what is the best way to teach it?
Finger Tracing: Before picking up a pencil, try letting your little trace the letters with their fingers.
Teach Uppercase Letters First: Teaching uppercase letters first can be very helpful to teaching order as well as letter formation. A lot of uppercase letters have diagonal angles, so this repetition is good for kiddos!
Teach Similar Letters Together: By teaching similar letters together children learn the fine motor movements that go with that specific set of letters. This makes it easier for them to process what they are learning and make it stick.
Use Printables: Using fun printables is my holy grail tip! I love the ones that show arrows so that children can do them semi independently by following the arrows!
Related Post: Teaching A Preschooler To Write: Tips For Caring Parents
Fun activities to help teach letter formation
Teaching letter formation can be so much fun! Here is a list of my favorite activities!
- Writing letters on a personal whiteboard
- Writing letters in shaving cream
- Making letters with random objects like cereal or blueberries
- Using letter forming printables
- Making letters with play-dough
- Finger paint letters
- Paint letters with a q-tip
- Make letters with Legos or blocks
- Form letters with pipe cleaners
Teaching letter formation can be intimidating, but there is no need to fret! You have a good knowledge base on what to look for and how to teach.
Remember to keep it fun and lighthearted! What are your favorite ways to teach letter formation? Let me know in the comments below!