My Little Learner is passionate about helping children learn to write and our writing mats have already helped thousands of children in the UK but there are many ways in which they can be used to nurture a love of writing.
Like in all areas of learning, every child will learn differently and it is good to adopt a multi-sensory approach especially when helping your child learn to write!
So that is why I felt it important to show examples of different ways our writing mats can be used to promote learning to write while also improving fine motor skills and pen control.
Children are naturally curious and are born with an innate desire to want to learn so sometimes by just leaving an activity on the table it will evoke that curiosity. This is the first step that I would encourage with our learn to write mats... just leave them on the table with a pen and see what happens!
Ways to use our writing mats?
As mentioned above, it is always good to learn in a variety of ways .... not everyone learns in the same way so it's good to mix it up and most importantly make it fun!
Below are some of the ways that I use the writing mats at home with my children.
Ask your child to use their fingers to trace over the pattern, shape or letter on the writing mat.
Finger tracing is an important starting step when it comes to learning to write. It allows the child to gain control over the finger and hand muscles required for writing and it also helps your child focus on visualising the shape of each letter. This exercise will help integrate their visual-motor integration system which is vital for handwriting. Visual-motor integration is the ability of the eyes and hand to work together in smooth, efficient patterns.
Use a car or small object to trace over the pattern, shape or letter on the writing mat.
This serves to act in a similar way to the above but adds more of an element of fun.
For example, children seem to love Fireman Sam, so use him to walk up and down the letters or any of their favourite characters.
Use a pen to trace over the pattern, shape or letter on the writing mat.
This is what our writing mats were designed for and it's absolutely fantastic to see the look of concentration on the child's face when they do it for the first time and then their big smile when they see that they have written their own name....what an achievement! Make sure you give your little learner lots of praise and also try to encourage that they "start at the star" and "end at the dot".
With practice, letter formation will become part of their motor memory so by encouraging the correct directional movement from the start, this will ensure bad habits don't form....which can be hard to correct.
Directional arrows can be added to our writing mats but if you feel this would be too much for your child then you can download a free printable letter formation guide.
Use the mats alongside play-doh and see if your child can recreate the shapes/patterns or even letters of their name. This is great for helping strengthen the small muscles in their hands and for really making them concentrate on the shape of each letter.
Cover the mat in paint, sand, shaving foam and see if your child can complete the pattern or trace their name.
Use the mat as a prompt and see if your child can write independently in the sand tray.
Letter tracing is great but the end goal is giving your child the confidence to write independently as soon as they are ready. In order to do this they need to be able to commit the letter shape and accompanying movements to memory.
Use cereal or any small object and ask your child to make the letters of their name.
This is just FUN, FUN, FUN and my boys love it!
It's also great for strengthening their pincer grip.
If you have any pictures of your child using our writing mats then please do send them in...I'd absolutely love to see them!