Good question! First step in getting a preschooler to write is to promote their fine motor skills, which involve the muscles of the hand used to grasp a pencil or crayon. These can be developed through any activity that involves cutting, drawing, or crafting. I personally think that too many worksheets can take the fun out of learning to write--there are lots of fun ways that children will actually enjoy! Check out the article below for fun ideas.
rkaiulani gave a good answer. Yes, it is appropriate practice. When my daughter started in Kindergarten, she had not developed the necessary fine motor skills and struggled with writing. I worked with her nightly using her teacher's suggestions which were: lacing noodles, pinching objects with tweezers, coloring, turning bolts, beading projects, you think of it...we did it + practice letter formation. Even in 1st grade she still struggled with her writing abilities, I worried about this and we kept at it. We found the old school style chalkboard and hung it on the wall for her to practice (which worked wonderfully) and I was excited for her and proud to see all the hard work pay off, when last year finishing 2nd grade she was awarded "Outstanding Achievement in Writing".
So, YES, it is appropriate practice, you can't start developing these skills too early, as long as it is kept fun, it will pay off later and maybe by starting in preschool will spare you the worry and extra work later.
Thank you for asking such a great question! Best wishes!
I myself have a four year old and I am trying to do the "writting " thing with him. There are days when he is willing to do it and there are others when he is not. It all depends on his attitude that day. I have a "workbook" of all kinds of worksheets from this site and also from Nick Jr's website. I also try to enforce what letter that his preschool is working on. For example, this week they are working on the letter "N", so I printed a bunck of worksheets about "N". My son particurally likes the color by letter and dot-to-dot. He also seems to thrive on stickers. So if he does a letter, is awarded with a sticker which he wears proudly on his chest all evening.
I agree with the many responses given. I have a 5 year and 6 1/2 year old. I agree that developing the motor skills through means outside writing is very important. Some strategies we used specifically for writing were to have the children help write lists for me, "write" cards, or write notes to someone in family or friend. They often tried to mimic my lists or notes, so I had to make sure my penmanship was very good.
Change up the medium often, write on paper, colored paper, chalkboards,dry erase boards, aqua doodle, magna doodle, whatever gets them interested. Change up their writing utensils, colored pencils, erasable pens, etc. The key is to make it fun. I rarely had my children sit to do worksheets at that age. I had a little workbook on learning to write, but they only did it if they wanted to do it. For a 4 year old, you have to make it fun. And depending on their attention span, keep mixing it up.
NO! you should let your 4 year old child play with lots of sensory activities using their hands and fingers: such as sand, shaving cream, tub foam, play dough, crayons, markers, chalk, finger paint --- off the top of my head. Let them experience these activities and through those activities, talk about shapes, letters, colors, size, texture etc. Practice making circles, trying to copy SIMPLE shapes and marks that you make. (vertical lines, horizontal lines, zig zag, long/short, up/down; etc.) Don't try to focus so much on what they are making, but how they are making it -- using which fingers, whole hand, round and round, up and down, back and forth.... Forcing them to try to make actual letters, shapes, numbers etc is NOT appropriate for this age -- their muscles are still developing and becoming stronger -- it is NOT developmentally appropriate to expect them to trace or write letters, numbers, shapes etc -- not until Kindergarten (which is 5 or 6 years old and directed by a professional trained in how to teach writing skills).