Teaching children the correct way to form letters is much more important than most people think. Children must learn to start at the top of the letter and end at the bottom right of the letter (in most cases). Using correct letter formation helps children write more quickly and more accurately.
There are several ways to teach correct letter formation, but one of the most effective is using letter formation prompts. To use a prompt, have your child say the prompt out loud as he or she traces or writes the letter. When your child has formed the letter, have him say the letter name out loud.
This method is extremely effective as long as your child is not frustrated. The hardest and most important thing to do is to make letter formation fun for your child. Obviously, a parent with high energy and a child who is well rested both go a long way. However, another way to make letter formation fun, is by using exciting materials. Here is a list of 15 different materials your child can use when practicing letter formation.
1. Play dough - make a long roll, then form it into the letter. Can also use a letter play dough mat.
2. Salt Tray - pie tin filled with enough salt that the bottom is covered.
3. Shaving Cream - pump shaving cream into a cookie sheet. Have your child spread it around before making the letter with his finger.
4. Sandpaper - cut the letter out of a piece of sandpaper, or just have your child trace the letter on the sandpaper.
5. White Crayon on Black Construction Paper - Write the letter with white crayon and have your child trace it with his finger.
6. Dot Markers - Use dot markers to make the letter.
7. Pipe Cleaners - Use pipe cleaners to make the letter.
8. Gel Bag - Fill a gallon sized zip lock bag with colored hair gel. Squeeze out any extra air. Use packing tape to seal the top. Have your child trace the letter onto the bag.
9. Pasta - Use plain or colored pasta to make the letter.
10. Puffy Paint - Write the letter with puffy paint on a piece of card stock. Have your child trace over the paint with his finger once the paint is dry.
11. Whiteboard - Write with a dry erase marker on a small whiteboard or on a whiteboard that is hanging on the wall.
12. Bathtub Crayons - Write with bathtub crayons in the bathtub.
13. Chalk - Write with chalk on a small chalkboard or outside on the sidewalk.
14. Rainbow Letters - Write the letter on a half sheet of paper using a pen or thin pencil. Have your child choose 5-10 crayons. Your child will trace the letter 5-10 times each time with a new crayon. The letter will be written in a rainbow of colors when he is finished.
15. Yarn on Sandpaper - Give your child small pieces of yarn and a piece of sandpaper. Have your child make the letter by sticking the yarn to the sandpaper.
All of these materials will not only help your child with letter formation, but they will make it fun and exciting to learn new letters. By using these materials, you can start teaching your child how to form letters at a very early age. The more practice they get, the more polished their handwriting will be in the future.