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How To Help Your Child Improve Their Handwriting?

Ways To Improve Your Child's Handwriting

Make Practising Fun

Offer your child a special pencil or a rainbow of coloured ones. Don't just give her words to copy. Instead, try simple word puzzles, anagrams, a game of hangman, or ask her to brainstorm lists around a theme to give writing practice a purpose.

Encourage Drawing And Puzzle Games 

To develop the physical writing requirements — holding a pencil correctly, posture, control, agility, coordination — the more time your child spends manipulating objects, the better. Even using silverware can help him develop his fine motor skills.

Pinpoint The Problem 

Common handwriting problems lie in four main areas: letter formation, sizing, spaces between words, and line alignment. Focus your child's practice on the letters or concepts that challenge her, and make sure she's using two hands to control the paper.

The Right Tools 

If your child's struggling with a regular pencil, try a smaller or shorter, kid-sized one. Also, ensure he has a good eraser handy, so he's not afraid of making mistakes.

Writing Outside The Box 

A foggy mirror, patch of mud, or bowl of leftover sauce make great surfaces. Whether your child's practising with his fingers, a stick, or a pencil, inspiring his creativity will appeal to writing. 

Start With A Positive Attitude

While you might understand the importance of legible handwriting, your child may not. Your child or teen may see their adult lives as being so distant that they do not need to worry about things like handwriting—at least not for now.

Older children and teens may think that there is nothing they can do to improve their handwriting. Some people reason that signatures and handwriting are unique; they should be developed when elementary school is completed.

With a little practice and observation, anyone can develop neat handwriting. Let it know that it can make unique handwriting better than nagging or arguing with your child about their penmanship. Remind them that it is important for someone to read what they're writing.

If you feel you could improve your handwriting, follow the tips listed below. Setting a good example will model to your child that it is possible to improve their handwriting—and how to do it.

Check Their Grip

Look at how they hold their pen or pencil. Sometimes children slip through school without developing a good writing grip. However, if your child is still in the earlier grades (k-2), they may work on their grip.

A quick way to teach proper grasp is to have your child pick up the pen or pencil near the writing end with a thumb and index finger pinch, then flip the pen or pencil over so it is resting on the edge of the hand.

Try different pencil or pen grips sold in school supply departments, educational stores, and online if your child struggles with grip. Some are round cushions that make the pencil or pen thicker and easier to grasp. Some are triangular-shaped tubes that make it easier to maintain a tripod grasp. Experiment with different pen and pencil shapes and grips to see if they help improve your child's handwriting.

Check To See How Letters Line Up

Take a piece of your child's handwriting, and look to see how the heights of the various letters line up, either with the lines on the paper or with other letters.

Sloppy handwriting will often have letters that are inconsistent in their size. For example, some letters may go over the top or bottom of lined paper lines, while others do not reach the lines.

Point these areas out to your child, so they will notice how their letters are sized. Also, be sure to point out letters that are well proportioned to boost their confidence and prevent them from feeling defensive.

Make Sure All Loops Are Closed

It leads to handwriting where the reader can't tell a-c from an o. Whether cursive or manuscript, leaving circles open creates illegible writing.

Show your child the open loops in their writing. Hopefully, awareness alone will encourage them to start closing these circles. Offer positive feedback when you notice closed loops.

Look At Dotted Is And Crossed Ts

The last feature to watch out for is dotting Is and crossing Ts. Despite the cliche, doing this won't make your child overly fussy about all other details in life.

Point out to your child any Is dotted more than half of a nearby letters distance away. It would help if you crossed ts across the top from the left side to the right side. It would help if you crossed capital Ts at the very top. Lower case t's should be crossed about 1/4 of the distance from the top of the letter.

Consider At-Home Practice

Some older children and teens will begin to improve their handwriting once the four pitfalls listed above are pointed out. However, other children need additional practice to develop the skills and habit of paying attention while writing.

Try To Find Ways To Make The Practice Fun.

  • Copy favourite quotes, jokes, or sayings. 
  • Introduce older kids to calligraphy
  • Historical documents, look to illuminated manuscripts10 and older copied scrolls for inspiration.
  • Use fun coloured, scented, or textured pens and markers.

Additional Tips

If you are concerned that your child is having an unusually difficult time with handwriting, check to see if dysgraphia may cause it.

If your child is past the grade levels where handwriting instruction is given, you can gently point out any slips in their handwriting when you review their homework.

Be sure that their homework corner is arranged to allow for comfortable writing. Your child should be able to sit in their chair with both feet on the floor. Their work surface area should be large enough to comfortably position their paper and move their dominant sidearm while writing.

If your child is still learning handwriting in their school grade or working with an occupational therapist, use the above tips combined with their recommendations.

Pencil Grasp Development

There are two types of pencil grasps that are considered efficient for handwriting; the tripod and the quadruped grasp. You can learn more about those two types of grasp below.

  • Proper Pencil Grasp for Writing – Comes with a step by step developmental sequence and explanation and pictures of each type of grasp.
  • 5 Tips for Pencil Grasp Development with Preschoolers – This is a guest post I wrote over on Learning 2 Walkabout pencil grasp as well.
  • Pencil Grasp Development Handout – Free Download
  • What is Pincer Grasp? – Pincer grasp is an important part of handwriting skills and pencil grasp.
  • The Foundational Skills Needed for Handwriting Mechanics – looking at underlying skills needed for pencil grasp.
  • 5 Fine Motor Activities to Improve Pencil Grasp – Guest post on Learning 2 Walk
  • 2 Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers
  • 5 Activities for Pincer Grasp Development
  • 15 Hands-On Activities to Promote Pincer Grasp

Pre-Writing Skills For Toddlers And Preschoolers

Pre-writing skills are the precursor to handwriting. They consist of an age-appropriate sequence of lines and shapes that toddlers and preschoolers learn to, later on, form letters and numbers.

  • 6 Pre-writing Activities for Preschoolers – This was a 6-week series I did on my blog with activities to encourage pre-writing lines and shapes.
  • 12 Fun Ways to Practice Handwriting with Preschoolers – Hands-on ideas for practice handwriting and pre-writing skills
  • 10 Hands-On Ways to Practice Pre-Writing Lines
  • On The Farm Prewriting Packet

Teaching Handwriting Skills At Home

If your child is in Occupational Therapy, it is important to practice their working skills at home. This post discusses some ways to do that.

Teaching Cursive Handwriting

Cursive can be a great alternative for children who are struggling with print. Plus, it's important to teach your child how to sign their name in cursive. So here are some cursive resources for you.

  • Should I Teach Cursive or Print Handwriting First?
  • Cursive Pre-Writing Lines & Strokes – Free Printable
  • Is Cursive Handwriting Still Important to Learn?

Use The Right Pencil Or Pen.

Using the right stationery is one of the elementary steps to improve handwriting. Pens and pencils that are too thick or too thin can make writing difficult. The pen or pencil should be of the right size for your child's hands to hold it appropriately and write in a proper flow.

Young children in preschool or kindergarten who have a weak grasp may have an easier time using a thick pencil or crayons. Using golf-sized (very short) pencils encourages children to use an appropriate grasp rather than using their entire fist to hold it, as children tend to do initially. Not just the pen or pencil, even the paper should be high-quality for good handwriting.

Write At The Right Speed.

Setting the right pace is important. When children write too fast, they lose control, cannot accurately form letters, and make mistakes. Similarly, slow writing could cause them to lose interest.

Speedy writers will usually slow down if they are asked to review and edit each word or sentence (depending on their developmental level) immediately after they've written it rather than waiting until the end of the writing task. Having a child spend time editing all of their illegible letters and words will encourage them to take the time to write them correctly the first time. Please take notice of your child's current pace and work toward improving it to allow them to write the best quality letters. Consistent practice will help improve your child's writing speed.

Use The Right Pressure.

Many children apply too much pressure by pressing their pen or pencil tip too hard on the paper. It stresses their fingers, makes it harder to create smooth lines, decreases their legibility, and may even cause the paper to tear.

The grip should be light but firm. Lighter pressure allows the hand to move smoothly. It will help make your child's handwriting neat and aesthetically pleasing. You have to be patient as it takes practice to find the right pressure.

Try using a mechanical pencil to help your child learn how much pressure to use when writing. It is an effective reminder because the lead tip will break if they press too hard. There are also fun ways to practice pencil pressure without actually writing! For example, give your child a small picture to colour using only a lead pencil, and help them explore how to make different shades of grey by altering the amount of pressure applied. Have your child try to pick up small marshmallows using tweezers without leaving any indentations at snack time.

Make Writing Fun

Children will likely become bored if they repeatedly write the same letters or words. Make writing fun and purposeful for them. Rather than copying words, introduce exciting elements to motivate them and make it a non-stressful affair.

From filling crossword puzzles and playing hangman to anagrams and simple word puzzles, try things that are likely to make writing a fun task. You can even give them rainbow-coloured pencils or pens to make writing exciting.

Ensure An Appropriate Environment

When your child is practising writing, make sure the environment is conducive. A comfortable chair that allows a child to rest their feet on the floor or a footrest and a table or desk that comes to approximately elbow height when sitting will put their body in the best position to write. Distractions can negatively affect learning and make it hard for them to absorb information and stay engaged, so finding a quiet area is important. A well-lit room will allow your child to see their work. Comfort, noise, and lighting can all affect writing skills.

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A Positive Attitude For A Positive Change

The tips given in this article should help you to guide your child toward more legible handwriting without changing your child's entire font or style. Be sure to stay focused on the positive aspects of having legible handwriting and any good efforts your child shows to improve.

Conclusion

 While it's not always possible to change the layout of your child's desk or have them hold their pencil differently, there are a few other things you can do that might help. Try these tips for improving handwriting skills in children and see if they're helpful!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Make Practising Fun. Offer your child a special pencil or a rainbow of coloured ones.
  • Encourage Drawing and Puzzle Games. 
  • Pinpoint the Problem. 
  • The Right Tools. 
  • Writing Outside the Box.

A child at this age will be able to print many words. They should manage a task that requires some skill, such as doing up a necklace. Children should be able to form the upper and lower letter correctly. Their visual memory will have developed.

Handwriting involves many aspects of movement — from forming letters to positioning the body and applying the right amount of pressure. That's why messy handwriting is often caused by poor motor (movement) skills, like fine motor skills.

Teachers report that the handwriting of both boys and girls with ADHD is immature, messy, and illegible.

Students with ADHD often have difficulties with writing, especially in terms of spelling. The most common issues are reversing or omitting letters, words, or phrases. Students may spell the same word differently within the same essay.

Are you finding that your child's handwriting leaves something to be desired? Are they constantly asking for help with their writing assignments at school? If so, don't worry - you're not alone. Many kids struggle with handwriting, but you can do a few things to help them improve. In this blog post, we'll outline a few tips to help your child improve their handwriting skills. 

Can't read your kid's handwriting? You are not the only parent who feels this way. It seems a common echo from many parents, occupational therapists, and teachers that children and teens today do not have the same quality of handwriting that the same age children had in the past. 

With the increase in electronic media use, you might be wondering how important your child's penmanship is anyway. You might reason that your child will live in a world where their keyboarding skills are more important. 

While increased electronic use has changed the ratio of keyboarding time to handwriting time in the workplace, handwriting is still necessary. Your child will need to sign with a signature and benefit from handwritten lists or notes.

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Overview

Learning to write legibly is one way to improve fine motor skills.4 Improved handwriting may help your child avoid misunderstandings—such as a teacher who can't read an assignment that your child has written and turned in.

While it is true that your child does not need to win any perfect penmanship contests to be successful in life, they still ought to have legible handwriting. As your child grows older, less time is spent in school developing good handwriting. Some schools even dropped teaching cursive beyond a signature, though other schools have recently brought it back.

If you have a child in the third grade or beyond, you can't always rely on practice at school to improve their handwriting.

In addition, many schools are spending less time on handwriting instruction in the early grades, and higher grades do not always cover handwriting at all. As a result, many middle schoolers will slip away from any good habits.

Fortunately, there are some suggestions and strategies you can teach your child or teen to help them improve their handwriting skills. You may even find these tips valuable for your handwriting review.

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