Letter reversals are very common for students in the primary grades to make occasionally. Recently I noticed my preschooler transposing some letters in his name. He started reversing the letters e and s in his name. So I knew I had to come up with an intervention plan quickly. With reading and writing, multi-sensory instruction is great as it engages multiple senses at a time. So in order to help my son, I used visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic methods to correct his letter reversals.
2 Major Points To Remember:
Use verbal cues every time you model the correct way of writing the letters. It is important to use the same language every single time. So when the child writes the letter on his own, he or she can remember the cues and form the letter accurately. I used very simple cues for my son. For example: for the letter e, we talked about how it’s a curvy letter. “e is a curvy letter, draw a line away from you and go up and around the line.” I used this verbalization as I modeled writing the letter e on sandpaper cards.
Teach one letter at a time to mastery. Make sure the child masters one letter before moving on to a new one. This can take one week or several weeks depending on the child.
Here are 5 multi-sensory methods I used to help him with correct letter formation.
*Use one method at a time and then review previous methods as you introduce new ones. 5-10 minutes a day is all you need to spend on this lesson.
1) Sand Paper Letters
Sandpaper letters are extremely popular in the Montessori environment. It is used to teach phonetic sounds as well as letter formation. The grainy surface enables the child to feel and trace the letters. So in teaching the formation of the letters, the sandpaper enables the child to use the tactile, sight and auditory (verbal cues in this case) senses. I absolutely recommend sandpaper letters for Preschoolers and Kinders. To give another example, this is the verbal cue I used to teach the letter ‘s’ formation.
I showed the letter ‘s’ sandpaper card.
“This is the letter ‘s’ (say the sound that ‘s’ makes).
“Today we’re going to learn how to write ‘s'”
“s is a curvy letter, we start at a point, and draw a curvy line towards you, away from you and towards you.” Model this at least 3 times. Then have the child do it on his/her own.
2) Sand/Salt Tray
Another great sensorial method for practicing letter formation. I use a square baking tray and fill it with colored sand. AJ loves writing his letters in the sand and ‘erasing’ it away.
Pin Poking is another favorite method used in the Montessori environment. It encourages deeper concentration, develops motor skills and pencil grip. I use a foam sheet as a backing and a giant push pin for this work. I wrote the letter ‘s’ on a piece of paper. AJ followed the formation of the letter and pin poked carefully. Again, I use the same verbalization cues every time.
4) Dot to Dot Paint
AJ loves dot to dot paint markers. This is another method that reinforces accuracy and enables the child to master the letter. I wrote the letter on a paper and had my son go over it with the marker.
5) Make the letter using Wiki Sticks or Playdough
The final step was to have AJ make the letter using wiki sticks or play dough. Another great way to build up fine motor skills and learn while playing.
These are 5 methods I used in helping my son master letter formations. Using the same language/verbalization every time helped my son immensely in correcting his letters. These methods are also great when teaching children how to write letters for the first time.
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