Please let me remind you that it's a process. It's not an overnight accomplishment, or even one that will come a month from now. Nervous? Don't be! Writing is so much fun and there is a huge sense of accomplishment (from mom and child) when you start to see progress.
How do I know if my child is ready?
Well, some of it will depend on you and your knowledge of your child. Some will never attempt (out of fear of not being perfect, not knowing where to start, not seeing examples, not caring) independently. Some will want to ("Mom, how do you spell... How do I write...?") but continuously ask you for guidance and help. How do you move the first (the never-attempters) and the latter (clearly ready, but at a standstill) to writing independently?
*If your child is not ready to write words yet, but can draw some shapes, see this site for great readiness worksheets. http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/redines.htm
I kind of do a mental checklist to see if it's time. This is just a guide!
1. Do they know their letters by sight (lower and uppercase)?
2. Do they know the sounds that match the letters?
3. Can they form each of the letters mostly the correct way (not counting backwards letters and development related mistakes)? Can they use handwriting paper to write letters? http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/handwriting-paper-bw.htm
4. For the most part, can they tell you the beginning sound of a word?
5. Do they attempt any writing at all (strings of random letters, labeling of pictures, etc)?
If so (especially 1-4), it just may be time to start!!
Pencil Grip (**You do NOT need to wait until letter/sound mastery to begin teaching this. Start as early as your child begins coloring/scribbling!)
I will be doing a series of posts on teaching writing. My first recommendation is to get golf pencils, especially if you are working on correct pencil grasp. Or, break your pencils in half (**gasp**). If you have fat pencils/crayons, don't use them. Small hands = small pencils/crayons. Giving a kid a regular length fat pencil is like an adult trying to write with one of those silly giant pencils you get at dollar stores. Smaller pencils/crayons encourage better grip. (For those of you trying to teach grip to a left handed child, remember that they should grip the pencil 1- 1.5 inches above the tip. Right handed children grip the pencil closer to the tip). Try to teach them to rest the pencil on the middle finger, rather than the ring finger. A little song we sing here goes like this, "My thumb is bent, pointer points to the tip, tall man uses his side. I tuck the last two fingers in and take them for a ride. I'm holding it just right, but not too tight..." (Handwriting Without Tears).
Spelling Through Phonics (McCracken). I'll take a little more about this book and the principles during the next posts.