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The lines and curves of my 4-year-old's letters extend haphazardly into each other. Some are backward. Others lie on their side as if they've been pushed over by a schoolyard bully. He still has a few years before writing will come naturally to him, but like many kids his age, he's beginning to tackle the skills of penmanship.
Kids usually first attempt writing during the preschool years. Their vocab expands dramatically at this age, and they begin to understand that symbols, including letters and numbers, have meaning, says Susan Neuman, Ph.D., coauthor of Nurturing Knowledge. They see Mom and Dad scribbling away at a note or a shopping list and want to do the same, which is why you may catch your kid penning his own nonsensical memos full of zigzags, circles, and other almost-letter shapes.
But teaching your child to write isn't as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Before he can print his name legibly, he'll need practice in multiple areas. Luckily, it's easy to teach these lessons at home.
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