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 looking at work for the first grade, following Steiner`s indications, we would begin with two lines: the straight and the curved. The first year is the year when the child gains uprightness - so in this posture the child actually "draws" this form with her upright body. So you see it`s not just about drawing a line or letters or writing words... the reasons Steiner set forth for his specific methods of teaching go much deeper and as a Waldorf home educator you really do need to do the homework to understand completely what is going on. You must have a real understanding of coordination, movement, senses... the human ego and will forces and the soul force. Waldorf is about willing, thinking, feeling and all of this is going on in your child at all times! Physical movement with the child`s entire body should always precede any attempt at putting anything on paper. The child should be asked to stand straight with their arms straight above their heads. They should be able to run a straight line forward. They should attempt it with their eyes closed, then walk the line backwards and so on. Then they should draw the line in the air in front of them, and practice drawing it with their arms, hands, legs... A Ribbon stick is a wonderful tool for this practice.
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.