What are they and why are they important?

Pre-writing patterns bridge mark-making and letter formation. They take children from more free movement in their mark-making to more controlled movements and movements which mimic the strokes required for writing letters later on down the line.

When should they be introduced?

Ideally when a child is beginning to show some control over their marks. They may be making more controlled lines and circles. They can be introduced on a larger scale on a wall, floor or tuff tray, for example, down to a smaller more controlled movement on paper or boards such as these. They are a useful tool for pre-writers but also for writers to build up strength and control.

pre handwriting

Is there an order they should be provided in?

Not specifically. But children will most probably find the lines, circles and dots easier to master first. If you give them something they find very difficult to achieve, they're less likely to want to participate. Build up the level of challenge as the go along, moving on to wavy and zigzag lines, to more complex patterns such as the spiral and castle turrets.

pre handwriting

How should I use them?

You can use boards like these or you can draw/paint pre-writing patterns on paper. You could make a similar DIY board from salt dough or cardboard (message if you'd like more info). You can then trace the patterns with your finger or an implement such as a stick (perhaps chalk or a crayon if on paper), or fill the lines with a sensory base, buttons or playdough. You could also chalk the patterns on a chalkboard or paint them large scale on a tuff spot and give the children a paintbrush and some water to follow the patterns to rub them off- I find this is a particularly great way to encourage them to follow the lines!!

More pre-handwriting Ideas:

A natural start to handwriting. Children can trace, feel and practice their pre-writing skills with this useful non formal looking resource. Good to leave around outdoors. Why not use messy writers with them? 

pre handwriting
A more advanced set of handwriting strips.

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With thanks to Jenny from @Mummy and Bears for writing this blog post. Jenny is an educational consultant, early years teacher and tutor.