Letter formation – do you have kids that struggle with this?
Out of my 4 school-age children, three have had a difficult time remembering how certain letters are formed.
I’ve mentioned it several times here at Mama’s, but my oldest son thought it was such a chore to write – even until 2nd grade or so. While many things came into play there (hand fatigue, pencil grip, just being a boy, etc), the biggest issue was that he didn’t form letters consistently each time.
Keep in mind that I was a new homeschool mom with very limited experience and no mentor to hold my hand. When choosing curriculum for that Kindergarten year, I could not imagine why moms were choosing to teach handwriting.
I mean… don’t you just do it? There’s not anything to teach, right?
Oh boy, was I wrong.
While I’m sure some children just pick up handwriting easily, my oldest surely did not. I was young and naive in my homeschooling, so I didn’t realize there was a problem for a long time. I had heard that boys were slower with fine motor skills, so I decided this must be his problem.
At some point in those early grades, I realized that he couldn’t write a sentence and that he struggled tremendously to write words.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why this was the case, because he’s a really bright boy. So what wasn’t translating well?
Letter Formation Consistency is the Key
It turns out, his problem was that he wrote his letters differently each time he had a pencil in his hand. One time he’d make the lowercase l starting from the bottom of the line and go up. The next time, he would start from the top line and go down.
And letters that go below the line like a lowercase p or g? Oh forget it. Those were just a disaster.
I will be the first to admit that I greatly poo-pooed Handwriting Without Tears in those early homeschool years because I didn’t like the style and it was just way too … intense for me.
Thankfully, I gave a talking to myself and we started with Handwriting Without Tears and saw great success. I even shelled out a bit of money and took one of their seminars that are typically for classroom teachers or Occupational Therapists. The seminar was wildly helpful to me, but you certainly can see enormous amounts of improvement with just their written materials.
The fact that this particular handwriting program teaches correct letter formation consistently was the key to his success.
His little 5-year-old brain couldn’t remember how to form letters each time he wrote them. When he wanted to write a word, he had to pull up the information of how to form a letter, which bogged him down. No wonder he had so much trouble writing a sentence.
Once we practiced and practiced and practiced with writing letters correctly, I saw enormous jumps in his handwriting abilities.
Needless to say, I’m a fan of this style of teaching handwriting!
Two of my girls have also struggled with handwriting and letter reversals. Because we use a program that emphasizes consistency, they have also seen significant improvement with those reversals.
The key here is consistency.
Letter Formation Methods
Over the years, I’ve implemented many different methods for practicing letter formation: the chalk slate, rolling letters out of playdough, using wooden pieces to make letters, and by all means finding that elusive starting corner!
Years ago, I made a set of large letters with a red dot, where my child could find the appropriate place to start forming the letter.
The red dot just acted as a reminder of where to start the letter.
I’ve used these letter formation cards for several of my children, and they were a great help! I recently updated the set with a new font and wanted to share them with all of you.
In this letter formation set, I’ve also added a different style of forming letters, using number prompts and arrows.
You can download and print whichever set fits your needs best!
♥ Also included in the download are 10 fun ways to use these cards with your own kiddos or in a classroom setting. ♥
** Please note these cards are for personal use with your own children or grandchildren only. If you are going to use these in a classroom or co-op setting, you’ll need to purchase a classroom license, please. Thank you for your honesty!
Download the Letter Formation Cards for personal use below: