How Number Tracing Helps Kids Writing Skills

The Link Between Number Tracing and Writing Skill

There’s been a lot of hype lately over whether letter and number tracing worksheets actually improve children’s’ handwriting skills. However, just because a practice is “old school” doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In fact, tracing is a concept that teachers have utilized within their classrooms for decades. There actually are a few specific links between practicing tracing with developing writing skills - and tracing numbers may help provide a bridge between holding a pencil correctly and producing letters, as they are often easier to write

The Zone Of Proximal Development

Learning to do anything by following a model or copying someone else plays on a concept known as the “zone of proximal development.” This zone - otherwise called the “ZPD” - represents what the child can do on their own, and what they can do with some help from others. Children can transfer their “what they can do with help” skills to the “what they can do on their own” category by using a process called “scaffolding”: providing lots of support, and then slowly withdrawing that support until the child can achieve the task on their own. Therefore, when students trace images to learn how to draw, or they trace numbers and letters to learn how to write, they are practicing how to use this skill while following the support of others. Once they feel confident enough to branch out on their own, they can move to producing letters and numbers on their own, without outlines. This will improve overall handwriting skills, and help students to produce letters and numbers with greater fluency

Fine Motor Skills

Like any skill, fine motor skills can only be developed through repeated practice and strengthening of these tiny muscles. In order to develop the skills needed to write well, students must practice using these muscles to write. A great, low-stakes way of doing this is by asking students to trace numbers on pieces of paper. This will help to develop their small hand, wrist, and finger muscles, in order to give them the control needed to fluently produce letters and numbers in the future. Additionally, fine motor skills are necessary for other tasks as well, including cutting objects with scissors and playing nearly any musical instrument. For young infants and nursery-aged children, this skill is first developed when they learn to grasp small objects. You can have even very young children attempt to hold a pencil. These tracing worksheets help them learn to grasp and control the pencil, and move it in specific and subtle ways in order to successfully form numbers and letters.

Boost Confidence

It’s really a no-brainer that by repeatedly failing at a task, your confidence level takes a dip. When was the last time you did terribly at something and then felt better about yourself and your ability to accomplish it? Similarly, if you repeatedly succeed at a task, your confidence experiences a boost. Sometimes, confidence is all that is needed to perform a task well. When you believe you are capable of succeeding, your performance inevitably increases alongside that. Number tracing worksheets help to increase confidence because they show students that they can create these shapes with a pencil and paper. As students begin to produce letters and numbers that follow the tracing patterns, they will feel better about being able to produce these shapes on their own. Ideally, students will begin attempting to produce them without further prompting from us!

Practice Holding and Gripping a Pencil

Practice Holding Gripping A Pencil

Because we’ve been holding a pencil for years - sometimes decades - we probably don’t remember what it was like when we first tried to hold a pencil with the intention to write. Try holding your pen or pencil in a fist-like grip - it feels unusual, right? However, for children and babies, this is the natural way to hold items of this shape. To grip a writing utensil in the way that we know to be fluid, they have to be deliberately taught. And then they have to practice. Because our muscle memory automatically moves to grip a pencil in the way that we have learned to, it may be difficult for us to imagine holding it any other way. However, this grip is not natural for young children - particularly those who haven’t extensively developed their fine motor skills. Number tracing worksheets offer a low-stakes way of practicing gripping, holding, and using a pencil. In the beginning, students may find it difficult and even frustrating to grip a pencil correctly and write with it. Number tracing worksheets give them a guide to follow to make the process seem much more accomplishable, and they can then practice producing numbers the correct way. Numbers are additionally easier to produce than letters, as there are fewer of them, and they can generally be formed with less complex markings.


In conclusion, number tracing worksheets can help to improve students’ writing ability. They help to provide a bridge between what students can do on their own, and what they can’t do on their own but can do with some help. They can help develop fine motor skills, which is important for a multitude of tasks, not just writing. They can help boost students’ confidence, which will give them the mental attitude needed to attempt to branch out on their own. Finally, they help very young children practice gripping and using a pencil in the correct way in a low-stakes setting. These are all benefits that number tracing worksheets can have on the development of childrens’ writing skills.

Addition, Subtraction, Division and Multiplications