- Tips and expert advice
Helping children learn to write
At the age of about 18 months, children enjoy scribbling and making marks but they don't yet have the fine motor control or hand-eye coordination for writing letters. Writing is a skill that develops over several years and children need lots of practice.
Usborne Wipe-Clean books are filled with writing and drawing activities to help develop the vital skill of pen control, and the laminated pages can be wiped clean so children can practise again and again.
Around the age of three, children make their first attempts to write with lines of scribbles and strokes. By the time they go to school, they should know a few letters and use a pencil with some control.
If you're practising at home, keep it fun – you don't need to teach all the letters of the alphabet, and they don't need to be taught in order. Children love to write their own name, so that's a good place to start. Don't worry if the letters are a bit shaky at first, they will improve with practice as your child's pen control improves.
Here are some Usborne Wipe-Clean books with activities such as tracing dotted lines and dot-to-dot activities that will help your child develop pen control.
Wipe-clean books for developing pen control
At an early age, let your child see you writing, for example, a shopping list or a birthday card, and talk about what you're doing. Encourage them to use 'writing' in their pretend play and tell you what their writing says. Once they can copy patterns and shapes, they may be ready for letters.
Let your child use whichever hand is natural to them. Show them how to hold the pen, but don't constantly correct them. Their grip will improve as they gain control. It's important to write the letters correctly and Usborne Wipe-Clean books have dotted guides that show children how to write each letter. Writing also helps children with their reading, so encourage them to say the letter sounds out loud while they write them. Do praise all your child's attempts however shaky.
Here are some Usborne Wipe-Clean books to help young children learn to write letters and start writing their first words.
Wipe-clean books for writing first letters and words
Going to school
By the time children go to school, they should be able to write their name and hold a pencil effectively. You can introduce other words, or leave this for school. It's a good idea to talk to your child's teacher about forming letters correctly and in the same style as their school. There are no set standards. Some schools start with print (separate letters) while others teach cursive (joined-up writing) straight away. UK schools start with lower-case letters while in the US, many schools start with capital letters.
The UK editions of Usborne Wipe-Clean books use the Sassoon Infant or Primary font, which is also used in many UK schools. US editions of Wipe-Clean books are based on the upright Zaner-Bloser system.
About the Author
Lisa Watts worked as an editor at Usborne in the 1970s and '80s. She wrote and edited many of the Usborne Computer Books, which were the very first full-colour books about computers, coding and computer games for children. After moving to live in the Middle East and the USA with her young family, she continued to work for Usborne, researching and writing the first Usborne science and nature encyclopedias. In the 1990s, Lisa worked on Usborne CD-ROMs - cutting-edge technology at the time - and, with the advent of the internet, set up the very first Usborne website in 1999. Shortly afterwards, in 2001, she was instrumental in launching Usborne Quicklinks, a huge library of links to kid-centric websites, carefully curated to support and enhance Usborne books. As Director of Digital Development, Lisa continues to keep Usborne ahead of exciting digital opportunities.