Teaching Children Pre-Writing Strokes: the precursor to handwriting

by FS&TS

By Katie Grimsby, MOTR/L 

When we begin teaching our children how to draw pre-writing shapes or strokes we don’t often think of the process in which the child forms the shape, but instead look at how the shape looks once it is completed. The two circles below have a similar end result and you likely cannot tell which one was drawn using a clockwise approach and which was drawn using a counterclockwise approach.


Believe it or not, the way a child creates these pre-writing strokes are just as important as the end result. The purpose of learning beginner strokes is to prepare the young child for learning handwriting. There are several main strokes that are used throughout all of our letter formations. For example, what do the following letters have in common?


Each of the letters above use a counterclockwise curved stroke to start the letter formation (similar to when you print letter “c”).  Therefore, by teaching your child to draw a circle using a counterclockwise direction, it will become more habitual for when they learn to print the letters above that use the same or similar stroke.

In addition to teaching children to use counterclockwise strokes for rounded shapes, it is important to promote that they draw shapes using a top-to-bottom and left-to-right approach, as this is how letter formations are typically taught. It is easier for a child to learn the components of a letter before being introduced to a new letter formation. Below are examples of the basic pre-writing strokes that a child should learn in preparation for handwriting. (Red indicates direction in which to draw the shapes)