It requires very little thought for a young child to trace letters or words on a page. He or she does not have to consider left to right directionality, how to form letters, or how to make connections between letters and sounds. Tracing letters and words also fails to provide young children with a purpose for writing, it does not represent an attempt to communicate an authentic message, and in most cases, it is not considered an enjoyable task.
When young children are beginning to learn to write letters. learning the specific directional movements for forming the letters can help them make efficient, legible letter forms. Pairing the verbal path descriptions with the motor movements helps little ones form letters more easily. Eventually, the child will internalize the language and the actions will become automatic.
By verbal path, I mean the directional motions that demonstrate how to form the letter. For example, as you make an "a," you can say, "pull back, around, up, and down." Children can initially make the letters in the air using larger movements.
Be sure to use the same language each time you give directions for letter formation. Consistency is very important.
Help children notice the letters they form well.
Be careful not to overdo letter formation prompts when children are first learning to make marks, lines, and scribbles on paper. Young children first need opportunities to explore and experiment with making marks on paper without pressure or restraint.
Early attempts at writing are valuable experiences for young children. Through likeness and demonstration, they steadily gain a complex understanding about communicating through writing.
For the young child, writing for oneself is an opportunity to solve problems and with appropriate adult support, he or she can learn a great deal and also feel the power of writing.