In the Waldorf approach writing is always taught before reading. The reason for this is that writing is a much more concrete, practical and less demanding activity. In writing (again) the whole being is involved. Ideally, the child begins with beeswax paper on the largest sheets of paper so the scale of the form can be fully (physically) experienced by the child. Also, when done very large the child can clearly differentiate between the straight lines and curves of the letters. In Waldorf schools the letters are taught by "drawing" them in the air, on the floor, by drawing, painting and modeling them... Each letter - each form must be "alive" to the child. This way also follows the natural development of civilization. The first writing was picture writing and writing as we know it today evolved very slowly and gradually out of picture consciousness. The little shapes of printed letters which we ADULTS use are completely foreign to young children! Also note that reading came much, much later - following the printing in Europe in the 15th century. As recently as 100 years ago relatively few people worldwide could read or write. So as you begin to think about it in this way, it really is quite "foreign" to our soul life and consciousness to effectively grasp or understand reading - at such a young age.
Dotted letters are very effective for handwriting practice too. You can buy handwriting practice books but they won`t be personalized for your child so you may want to consider getting a dotted font for your computer. Make sure you get the same style as your child is using at school to avoid making handwriting more complicated for them! It`s easy to install a font on your computer and then you will be able to create name cards or type out a little story your child tells you. Once printed out the child can trace over the dotted letters. Probably the most important point is to supervise children closely whenever they are writing. That way parents and teachers can ensure that the child has a good tripod pencil grip for control. Supervision should also ensure that children start each letter in the right place and move the pencil in the right direction. Getting the letter formation correct is much more important than neatness in the early stages. If children get into the habit of starting a letter in the wrong place or moving in the wrong direction, for example drawing the letter o in a clockwise direction instead of anti-clockwise, these habits will easily become ingrained and very hard to correct later.
In Waldorf Schools, one has to consider Rudolf Steiner`s beliefs and views about form drawing. Form drawing is the basis for the development of fine motor skills as a preparation for writing. Remember, the movement of the hand also educates the brain. From the book Form Drawing Grades One through Four: "It is part of the evolution of art and, as such, develops the aesthetic sense and a feeling for form. It also teaches thinking but not in a non-intellectual way; it trains the intelligence to be flexible, able to follow and understand a complicated line of thought." A child experiences the forms and this develops the will forces. It is a way of "seeing" with the hands. Rudolf Steiner said "the line is the subject and not a picture of something in the outer world". This is also why when form drawing you should not allow the child to color in between the forms and lines. Children in Waldorf schools learn very significantly through the arts.