Studies have found that children are able to recognize and understand numbers when they’re about two and a half. Studies have also found that children are able to write words as early as three, even though what they wrote had no connection to the actual sound of the letters or words spoken.
The significance of the study points out that children may actually begin to understand the concept of writing at ages younger than what we previously thought. This further means that parents can get an earlier head start on giving their children a better head start.
First of all, remember that in younger children the bones and muscles in the hand may not be fully developed, so if they begin by practicing too hard, it may negatively impact the physical development of their hand, and even worse, adversely affect the development of their spine and vision. Mentally, it could lead to tension and anxiety. So to strengthen the hands, encourage your child to start drawing or scribbling as soon as he is able to hold things.
When the time comes, make sure your child has the correct writing posture and properly grips the pencil from the start. Both your child’s feet should be firmly planted on the ground to provide a stable base of support. His ankles, knees, and hips should be bent at a right angle. The top of the desk should be about one to two inches higher than his elbows. Your child’s non-writing hand should be used to stabilize the paper on the desk.
You should of course have your child avoid the opposite of good posture: wiggling, head too close to the desk, slouching, sitting cross-legged, tilting the chair, sitting on or fidgeting the non-writing hand, etc. Demonstrate good posture and your child can learn by imitating you.
Before your child begins writing, make sure he understands the shape and structure of what he is about to write. You can use paper with grids to help him. Emphasize where to start and stop—stroke order matters! (Generally speaking, we want to write from left to right, top to bottom.)
Break down letters and numbers into lines and curves. Bring attention to neatness and proportion. Finally, check together for accuracy—look for places where lines may have been too long or too short, where curves may have been too wide or too narrow, or where the same letter or number appears noticeably larger or smaller in different places.
Children aren’t able to sit still for too long, so don’t practice for too long. Children are easily bored, so take breaks. You don’t want your child to lose interest or conviction before he is able to finish writing his first complete sentence. Good penmanship is important, but starting from a good, solid foundation is even more important.