Why Handwriting is Still Important for Preschoolers

Raleigh Preschool

The past year has shown us that nearly all work and communication can be done digitally, via tablets and laptops. Even young children are using technology to learn rather than traditional books, workbooks, and "pencil and paper assignments." This means that there's less focus in schools on handwriting and penmanship, with many places phasing out cursive writing in older children. So, is handwriting necessary for children, especially younger children?  Our preschool in Raleigh is sharing several reasons why handwriting is important for preschoolers and why we shouldn't turn our back on pen and paper.

Handwriting Builds Motor Skills

Preschoolers are still developing motor skills, especially fine motor skills, which is the ability to use the small muscles in our hands and wrists and improve dexterity. Using scissors, building with blocks, and handwriting are all excellent ways to develop fine motor skills. Gripping the pencil strengthens the muscles in the hand and fingers while forming the letters improves control over the small muscles and creates a stronger bond between the brain and the hands. Of course, small children aren't expected to have fine penmanship, but most preschoolers can start with simple shapes, lines, and tracing letters. Over time, you'll see your child favor one hand over the other. 

Before you start practicing handwriting with your toddler or preschooler, some fun ways to increase dexterity and start strengthening the muscles in the hand include:

  • Stringing cheerios or pasta (like penne or wagon wheel) on a piece of yarn;
  • Using tongs or tweezers to pick up small items like pom-poms, beans, or raisins, and dropping them in a container;
  • Building with connecting blocks like LEGO

Writing Helps Children Learn to Read

Writing is considered a multi-sensory activity. Basically, as children write, the areas of the brain that control the communication between the brain and the hand are also the areas of the brain that process language. As they are visually tracking what they are writing, the brain is even more engaged. Children who spend more time working with a pen and paper over typing have stronger reading and spelling skills because writing activates the parts of the brain that also controls reading. Practicing letters and short words, especially sight words, will improve their ability to recall what those words say. 

Writing By Hand Benefits Older Students and Adults

By learning to write when they are young, preschoolers are being set up for success as they grow. Studies have shown that writing by hand improves information retention, from college students taking notes for a class to older adults writing down personal notes to keep their minds sharp. Pre-pandemic, students between elementary school and high completed 90 percent of their in-class assignments and tests by hand, and while that number went down considerably, in-class assignments are still often completed by hand so being able to quickly and legibly write is important to getting their work done and graded properly. Surprisingly, studies have found that this ability also allows students to express themselves more effectively than students who are slower, less neat writers.  

Schedule a Tour of Our 5-Star Preschool in Raleigh

We believe in setting children up to succeed through play and fun. As part of the Creative Curriculum in our classrooms, we work on drawing, coloring, and grow into handwriting as we want to encourage creativity in each child as well as foster a love of writing.  To learn more about our preschool and after-school programs, call us at our Spring Forest location at (919) 790-6888 or our North Hills location at (919)785-0303 to request a tour of one of our North Raleigh child care centers! Or fill out the contact form below.

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