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Teaching Letter Formation and Placement |

What you need to know before teaching a child Letter Formation

This article provides helpful information when teaching children letter formation. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

These past few years I’ve done everything in my power to fight this strange new world of “LOL,” “BFF,” “OMG,” and “BRB.” For years I fought with my kids about getting a cell phone and trust me, you’ll never believe how I fought them on text messaging. This whole new world of technology is way over my head, and me being set in my ways, just wishes I could go back to the days of a good old fashioned day planner that I hold in my hand. How’s that for teaching an old dog new tricks? Whoever would have thought that a man trying to break Hitler’s coding process during WWII by building the first computer would revolutionize the world and bring about such amazing technologies that have created a foundation for what you and I do every day of our lives.

In case you are wondering, yes I have now graduated from a flip phone to a smart phone and I am now text messaging. Gasp! Because technology and electronic devices have become a huge part of our lives and the lives of our children, there are fewer opportunities for our children to really develop their writing skills, especially when it comes to properly writing their letters. I can’t tell you how many children struggle writing basic letters on a page or their handwriting looks like chicken scratches.

Most educators don’t even understand the purpose of teaching children how to write in cursive anymore because that type of penmanship is no longer needed, unless the bank needs your signature on a check, but, yet again, I’m old school and still write checks.

Because so many children now have iPads in the classroom and type their reports on the computer, they don’t always see the value of strengthening their writing skills. Writing a letter back in the day is now a quick email or an occasional funny post on Facebook. As children grow older and enter college they will be even more likely to type their notes in class rather than write them in a notebook.

Even if this is the case, we as parents know how important it is to fine tune those writing skills, especially when they are young and are learning letter formation. Many children struggle with letter formation, where to position their pencil, and how to stabilize their piece of paper.

To make it easier for children to learn the correct letter formations, there are some handwriting exercises you can do at home to ensure writing success. These tools may seem easy for you, but could be difficult for your child and may require a lot of practice. If your child struggles with certain letters more than others, help them practice those letters more frequently. Before we begin, you will need to purchase a letter chart and handwriting book with the dotted lines in the middle to help with proper letter placement and orientation.

Important Tips!

  • Always have your child start out writing lowercase letters. This is important because when they start to read, most of the words are in lowercase letters.
  • Remind your child to use their “helper hand,” opposite of their writing hand, to stabilize the page and hold it down while they write.
  • Help them have correct and proper pencil grip. This may take some practice, but is key to writing letters.
  • Ensure your child is sitting at the right size of table with their feet flat on the floor to create the stability needed to move their eyes and hands with precision.
writing, letters, letter format
Note: The child in these photos is autistic and continues to improve in pencil grip and fine motor. Please be sensitive to these learning successes.

When you have your booklets, you can begin.

Letters with Circles

When forming letters that begin with a circle, have your child start at the 2 o’clock position and draw the circle from top to bottom. Letters like c, o, a, d, g, and q all have some type of circle motion that is required when learning how to write. Remember to teach these letters all at the same time so your child can practice starting the circle at the top and going to the left (most of the time their hand motion is clockwise).

Letters with Lines

Next, practice letters that begin with the line first, like you find here. Have your child start from the top and move to the bottom. Letters like l, b, p, h, k, m, n, t, and r all begin with lines. However, you can also teach your child that n has one hill and m has two hills. Having a handwriting book with the dotted lines can help your child see how letters like h begin all the way at the top line, whereas letters like n begin at the dotted line in the middle of the page.

Letters with Slants

Writing letters with slants can be tricky for children who are just starting their letter formation. Using your child’s letter chart, have them start at the top and draw diagonal lines across the page for practice. This will help with letters like x, w, and y. When they are ready, show them how the diagonal lines cross to form the correct letters.

Rewiring the Brain Mini-Course

If you have an overly emotional child, they may be “stuck” on the emotional side of the brain. For tips, resources and tools to help kids who have trouble with emotional grounding, register for the FREE Rewiring the Brain Mini-Course. This course is entirely email-based. Sign-up to get all the lessons in your email box to print, share, read and re-read as many times as you like. Complete the form to register for the course below. 

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs

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