English > Handwriting at home > Learning to form numbers and letters

Learning to form numbers and letters (Age 4–5)

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For information about what your child is learning at school, take a look at our handwriting at primary school pages.

What can I do to support my child at home?

1. Fine motor skills

There are lots of fun ways to help your child develop their fine motor skills; try drawing, join-the-dots, cutting things out with scissors and making pasta necklaces using string and tube pasta. Singing songs with actions can help too. Watch these videos for some inspiration.

Video: Incey wincey spider

Video: Grandma’s spectacles

2. Sitting comfortably

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your child is working in a comfortable and suitable place when they sit down to write. Make sure they are sitting at a table and that the table and chair are at a comfortable height. The table should support the forearm so that it rests lightly on the surface and is parallel to the floor. Try to encourage your child to sit up straight and not to slouch. The height of the chair should be such that the thighs are horizontal and the feet flat on the floor. It is also helpful if there is no clutter and that the light is good.

Video: Getting ready to write

3. Get the right grip

For all children, especially left-handers, a pen or pencil with a rounded nib or point is best for writing. For right-handers a tripod grip is generally accepted as the most efficient way of holding a pen or pencil. This means it should be held lightly between the thumb and forefinger about 3cm from the point. The middle finger provides additional support. The left hand should be used to steady the paper.

Video: Pen grip and posture

If your child is left handed, encourage them to hold their pencils far enough away from the point to allow them to see what they are writing. The tripod grip should be much the same as for a right-hander.

Take a look at the diagrams below for instructions on the tripod grip for both left-handers and right-handers.

Tripod grip for left-handers

Holding your pen correctly: the tripod grip for left-handers

Tripod grip for right-handers

Holding your pen correctly: the tripod grip for right-handers

4. Colouring and drawing

Colouring and drawing continue to be an excellent way for children to practise the development of fine motor skills.

Visit our colouring-in activity page.

5. Praise and encouragement

Make sure you praise good effort in handwriting, especially if the error is a ‘reasonable’ attempt, before correcting any mistake.

Be sure to find out what handwriting style your child is learning at school. Consistency is essential at this stage, so it is important not to correct something that you think is an error but that is actually part of the style your child is learning.


Handwriting activity books

Starting to Write Letters Age 4–5

This activity book will help your child to progress while having fun so they will quickly learn to develop pencil control and the correct letter formation.
Buy on Amazon >


Handwriting: Age 5–6 >


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