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Pre-handwriting Shapes

Before being developmentally ready to learn to write letters, children should be able to accurately execute the pre-handwriting shapes. The pre-handwriting shapes form the basis for all letter formation and regular practice of these, even when children have already begun to learn to write letters, is beneficial.


Children begin learning letter formation, in Reception and Year 1, as printed letters. Before children start joining, initial focus is to ensure letters are formed accurately, at the correct relative size to one another and in the right direction. It is important that children are beginning and ending their letters in the correct place to enable them to begin joining in Year 2.

Letter Families

Letters are introduced and practised in their 'Letter Families'. Letter families have a similar motion when forming each of their letters which helps support children to form their letters in the correct direction.


Once children are completely secure in their printed letter formation, they can begin to join strings of letters together to increase their speed and fluency. Children generally begin to join during Year 2 onwards.