Need to Help My Five Year Old Son How to Write, Hope You Guys Read This Thanks

Updated on November 29, 2011
A.R. asks from Florida, NY
15 answers

My son is a late talker; he is getting better with with speech and he is in preschool. He will get more speech and ot in january. I am going to put him in an integrated kindergarten in january because i don't think he is getting enough academics in preschool.
He is having trouble with writing his name and i would like to help him practice at home with his writing, some people tell me tracing words is not a good, so i was wondering what writing strategies can i practice at home.
Should i practice hand movement first? Teach him how to read first? I don't want to wait until january when he starts kindergarten. I want to start working with him right now. Any ideas, tips, experiences,suggestions about how to help my son kick start his writing and reading? Should it be the reverse?
Thanks so much! To every one of you for reading my question and answering it!

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answers from San Francisco on

Fine motor skills are different than speaking/language skills. Many kids are "advanced" in one area and "behind" in another.
Prep for writing includes not only writing, but drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, lacing, etc. Anything that gets those little hands working and coordinated!
And don't stress about it too much. After all, kindergarten is where they LEARN all of this, he doesn't need to know everything going in :)

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answers from Providence on

My son was in an integrated Kindergarden class. He did very well in it. He has a delay in both speech and language. For him, I bought the elementary lined paper, and made dots with his name. He would trace around the dots to form his name. What also helped was him enjoying art. He would draw shapes, lines, coloring books, etc. Get him used to practicing lines, and coloring. Then have him try to draw his name. Once they are comfortable holding pencils, crayons, they seem to be able to grasp handwriting a little better. Your OT also will come in mighty handy during this time and in his school years.

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answers from Jacksonville on

You might find the workbook "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" interesting. I used it to teach both of my children to read before they entered pre-k. But the reason I bring it up to you, is that the book doesn't JUST teach reading skills (which it does very well), but also, right alongside the reading skills, teaches writing the letters. Each sound they learn (the letter "m" makes the sound mmmmmmm), they also write. If today's lesson is the sound "mmmmmmm", then today's lesson also teaches how to write "m". They use the writing to reinforce the reading skill. And it all works together very well.
It truly does cover everything in those 100 lessons. By the end of the book, you should have quite a competent little reader on your hands, and he will also be able to write every letter. The average lesson is around 20 minutes (the ones in the beginning are a little shorter, the ones nearer the end are a bit longer), plus 5 minutes of writing.
That's it.
You can find it on amazon, and there is a link where you can click on the image and "look inside" it. Usually there is a used one available for under $15. Some of the best $ I spent when my kids were younger.

oops.. almost forgot: His OT probably will work with him on this as well, but you can help his finger/hand muscles get stronger (he will need that for gripping the pencil to write) by letting him pick up small objects with tweezers or pincers or chopsticks. And encourage him playing with playdoh or modeling clay. Those use those fine muscles in the hands as well. :)

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answers from Charlotte on

I think it's fine to put him in integrated kindergarten, A., but try not to look at it as preschool not giving him enough academics. Preschool is not supposed to be kindergarten.

At 5, he is still very young and writing is not just an academic thing - it's a physical thing. What we do to prepare children for writing is have them PLAY, doing things that prepare them for fine motor skills - working with play-doh, picking up small beads and threading them on a necklace, teaching them to color with crayons, writing with chalk on a sidewalk, these kinds of things. Teaching the alphabet with song, puzzles, books. Writing letters in whipped cream with his finger, pointing out letters in the grocery store, FUN teaching. You know those alphabet magnets you put on the frig? That's a great way to put words together, including his name for him to see and word families like cat, mat, hat, etc. Not a whole lot of sitting down at a desk teaching.

Since your son will be getting OT, talk to the OT about this. If you think that your son is having trouble writing because of a neurological problem, get him to a pediatric neurologist and have him assessed. My younger son had a weakness in his writing hand in addition to sensory integration problems, and I ended up getting him help for his hand in addition to regular OT. (Killing two birds with one stone in my circumstance.) The way I went about doing that was using an OT who actually specialized in teaching group handwriting classes. She taught using the Jan Olsen's Handwriting Without Tears method.

I don't recommend that YOU try to do this with your son alone. Your OT knows how to strengthen his little hand to make it possible for him to be successful. Perhaps she knows an OT who works with children doing this. (The group lessons are a lot cheaper than individual OT.)

If you push him too much, he will balk and it will impede his progress. Make learning his ABC's an overall experience instead of worrying so much about just writing. By having fun with his letters and his name, he will WANT to do this.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Your OT will have good ides for you. In the meantime, this is what my OT is doing to help my son with his fine motor skills: forget tracing letters. He needs to learn to draw a vertical line and a horizontal line first. If he's got those down, move on to a circle and an X. Once he has those, then a triangle and a square. ONLY THEN should he start attempting letters.

I'm going to guess that most children heading into kindergarten will know how to write the alphabet, or part of it, but not many will be reading, so I'd focus on writing skills first.

In order to hold a writing utensil correctly (tripod hold - thumb, first finger, middle finger) instead of using a fist grip - break some crayons in half. He'll have to hold the pieces with three fingers because they will otherwise disappear into his fist.

I bought the "Handwriting Without Tears" workbook and audio CD (preschool set). My child is much more interested in listening to the music than actually doing any of the worksheets, but there are a couple in there that go with a catchy song about "the ant, the bug, and the bee" crawling up a wall - the worksheet shows the ant, bug, and bee on a brick wall with "lines" below them (presumably their walking path) and kiddo was willing to practice vertical lines. We're slowing edging into some of the others.

I have coloring books galore but he hates them. My OT suggested that a whole page of things to color is overwhelming, so we work on a tiny bit at a time: "Could you color that leaf? How about that one? Nicely done. Where is Christopher Robin's shoe? What color should his shoe be? Blue? OK - will you color his shoe? How about the other shoe?" If we get 3-4 minutes of concentrated work done, I'm happy.

Does your son string beads? It's a great fine motor skill if he needs that kind of help. Use string a different sizes of macaroni. If a string is too challenging, try pipe cleaners instead.

I'm excited to try some of the suggestions other parents have given you! There are so many great ideas here.

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answers from Austin on

I agree with the moms that say he needs to work on his fine motor skills Here are some suggestions.
Even just tracing letters with his fingers first are a way fo him to get the idea.
This was an answer to another mom about this same subject.
Fine motor skills therapies (play)

It is not unusual for a 4 1/2 year old not to have those fine motor skills built up yet..
Here are son fun things you can do with him at home to get his hands and fingers strengthened up.
Let him lead the way with his hand preference. He may end up ambidextrous.. where he can use both hands..
Have him roll little balls of playdo using only in index and thumb.. He can do this with both hands.. Have him line them up, and then have him go back and mash then only using his forefinger.. The next time he makes a row of the balls, have him only mash with his forefingers.. Have him make a tower as tall as possible stacking the playdo balls. Have him mash the tower with his forefingers.
Give him 2 clothes pins.. Have him go around and pick up stuff only using the clothes pins.. Again only using thumb and forefinger.. Make it a contest and see who can pick up the biggest (not the heaviest)things with only 1 clothes pin.
Get a box of small paper clips and have him make a paper clip chain with all of them.. Another time, have him make a chain out of a whole bx of Large paper clips.. Hang these chains in his room. Each time he brings home artwork.. have him paperclip the art to his chain.
Gather all of the loose chain around the house.. have him separate them into different piles.. Then have him make stacks of 10 for the different coins..
Have him separate a jar of buttons by size and then by color another time.
Get a really large piece of blank paper.. Old giftwrap paper on the backside works great.. Give him a crayon and have him draw the longest line he can draw.. Then have him draw great big circles. Then a long wiggle line.. Then have him get some of his match box sized cars and only using and index finger, have him "drive" his cars up the different lines.. Again do this with each hand till you can tell her preferred hand..
Work puzzles together. Then mix 2 puzzles together and have him make both puzzles at once.
A wipe board or chalk board are great for him to practice letters. Let him be the teacher and call out letters to you, and then you be the teacher and let him write over the letters you wrote.
Each time you go out to eat, take a pad and paper and some of those cars.. again have him practice lines with a pencil, crayon and marker.. He can even write his name really big and drive his cars over the letters of his name..
He will catch on.. He sound just fine.. There are always going to be some kids that can do things before your son and other times, he will be the one ahead of others.. Heck our daughter is 20 and she still can hardly throw a ball..

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I would start teaching him how to read and write they go hand in hand.
"Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" is a good book for you to learn how to teach him as well as him learn.

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answers from Houston on

Teach him basic hand movements, he can begin by tracing the fundamentals of letters. Such as curves, wiggles, slanted lines, wavy lines on the handwriting paper. You can get those books at nearly any store like Walmart, Target. There are tons of free prinatble sheets online such as here:

Once he has that down, he will more easily master the alphabet and writing numbers. Most stores Walmart, bookstores, even the dollar store have great pre-k books to help with learning letters and writing and math concepts. My son's pre-k teacher got a sheet of handwriting paper and had his name to trace on it over and over, like 20 times. He practiced on those sheet several times, we made copies of the page and he did like 10 of them. Writing is much easier to begin than reading, start with that first, but teach the letter and it's sound(s) as he is learning to write it.

You can also have him trace letters in a pan of sugar with his finger, or shape letters on a piece of sandpaper with a piece of yarn/string.

As for understanding letters, my boys love the Leap Frog DVDS (letter and word factory and the math ones), I got them a cheap set on They also really love which helps with letter and sound recognition.

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answers from New York on

My son is also 5 and in K. Writing comes easier to some kids than others. My son has been working on it and he tries but it sometimes takes a while for the small motor to develop fully. As a kid I hated writing--the physical aspect because it was so hard for so long. It took until the end of 3rd grade until I could do a good job without a struggle. Practice and play that encourages small motor skills is great but don't force him to go beyond what is necessary if he hates it.

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answers from Appleton on

He is still young and may be having trouble with fine muscle control. It will come with time. Coloring will help, he needs to learn to make smaller more controlled movements and stay within the lines. Once he has learned how to control the fine muscles in his hands while coloring he will have an easier time in learning how to write letters.

I also think learning how to trace shapes will help him. Also if you take the Sunday circulars or old magazines and have him learn to cut out pictures and control the scissors so he stays along the lines and cuts a fairly straight edge. This is hard for many adults, so be patient on this one.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter traces every day in kindergarten. I never heard it was bad. He can also practice control of this hands by coloring, as well, let him make things with play dough. Let him roll a ball, pinch a pot or make some cars.

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answers from New York on

My husband just purchased a book from Walgreens. It's called Learning for Pre-K. They have for all ages. $10 big book. Lots of learning. :)

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answers from Rochester on

What is the rush for him learning to write so soon? Do they actually fail children from Kindergarten? If he is a late talker - there's a reason. His body is working on growing!

I don't want to tell you something you don't want to hear - but I'm not going to tell you something I don't think your child needs. This early stuff I'm learning is NOT good for the children, does not help them succeed early, and only stresses them out at an age when childhood is supposed to be sacred.

I would tell you if HE initiates, and wants to learn how to write, read, then fine, give him what he asks for (mine has asked for the letters of his name. That ended his curiosity. He's only 4. I'm good with that.)

Best bet would be to practice music - singing with him - short songs - Seven Times the Sun and Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly are great CDs for this age. Practice moving his body to music and to rhymes (clapping hands and thighs with rhymes, etc)

Good luck,

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answers from Austin on

Kumon work]books, which work alot on stuff already mentioned here....tracing, coloring in certain areas, cutting etc. Also Grasshopper kits I have found recently. My older son has struggled with writing from the beginning and has been getting OT for many years and that Handwriting Without Tears Program is the only thing he will do writing related that he doesn't resist. There are lots of parts to buy though and they may do this same program with him when he starts OT. There is also this special therapeutic clay....I cannot remember the name cause I have never bought it but you might be able to find it on Super Duper or something. You can order it in different "strengths" meaning it is harder or easier to manipulate with your hands. They always suggested I hide things in it and ask him to find them. Having speech problems early on can lead to some language issues that affect writing and reading later on. I would do alot of reading and work on learning letter sounds and then maybe do some putting together of simple words. Like if he does tracing letters you can go over the sounds the letters make while you are tracing or writing in shaving cream or with chalk and then sound out simple words with sounds he can make (p, b, m and vowels are the first sounds they can make so assuming he can say those sounds right maybe start with those kind of letters. We also have the leapfrog letters magnet set and anytime I am working in the kitchen my little one (3 yo with apraxia of speech so he is about a year behind in his speech) he plays with the magnets and letters and we go over the different letters and the sounds they make (and the little base unit sings the song too that helps a lot).

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answers from New York on

What's more important than being able to write his name is being able to recognize his name? Does he know all his letters? That's the first place to start.

It also sounds like he may need to work on his fine motor skills.

Remember children learn best thru play. Try to make it fun.
Make an alphabet puzzle, or play with blocks to help him learn letters.
Get some coloring books, and color together - you may even be able to find a coloring book that helps teach the alphabet.
Draw pictures. By drawing straight lines (like drawing a house) or drawing cirles (like drawing a snowman) will help him with the basic shapes found in forming his letters.
Have him cut out shapes using child's sissors, this helps with fine motor skills.
Cover a table with a plastic table cloth and spray shaving cream or whip cream in the center. Spread it around and using his finger have him write his name.

The absolute best advise I can offer is READ, READ, READ. Read to him every day. Make it fun. Let him choose the book. Let him read the story to you, even if he's just making it up. Encourage him to make up an ending to the story.

added: forgot about the tracing part of the question. I've never heard that tracing is not good. I've heard just the oposite. Many writing workbooks and worksheets that school's use have the letters in a dot formation that children are encouraged first to trace and then to try to write on their own.

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