Classroom learning has become more digital in recent years. This might make you wonder why your kids need dedicated classes on handwriting.
The reality is that handwriting is more than putting a pen or pencil to paper. It’s an important skill that every child needs to develop.
Here’s how handwriting works. First, it tells your mind what to write and how to form the shapes of what you wish to write.
Then your hand moves from left to right as you shape the letters, and your eyes stay focused on the word and movement.
Unfortunately, schools are spending less and less time on handwriting. This means that your child may be stuck with poor penmanship.
The good news is that you can do something about it. You can help your child through the many handwriting problems, and develop their fine motor skills.
Why do you need to improve your child’s handwriting?
As we stated earlier, handwriting is a lot more than learning how to write with a pen or pencil. Here are some other benefits of teaching your kids good handwriting.
- Studies show that handwriting activates the brain in more ways than typing. It is especially beneficial in helping kids build a better working memory. It also develops their ability to create ideas.
- Good handwriting can also contribute to reading fluency. This is because it triggers visual perception of letters.
- Writing effortlessly helps the mind focus more on a topic. The handwriting process promotes clear thought and natural structure.
- Handwriting skills can determine success in both written and non-written standardized assessments.
- Good penmanship is a critical stepping stone to accessible creative and artistic opportunities.
At what age should you start working on improving your child’s handwriting?
Don’t worry if your 3-year-old isn’t writing properly yet. In reality, these seemingly nonsensical scribbles are quite important. Kids need to develop their pre-writing skills first.
However, as parents, we should help them transform those scribbles into fine handwriting at age 6.
6 is the time when kids develop the dynamic tripod grasp. This is the ideal pencil grip required to improve their handwriting. At this age, we need to help them develop legible and readable handwriting.
Steps to improve your child’s handwriting
1. Use the right stationery
The first thing you need to improve your child’s handwriting is to ensure they are using the right pencil.
A good quality pencil will help your child;
- improve their grip
- apply the right pressure
- minimize stress
- produce dark and clean write-ups without leaving marks on her fingers
This pencil’s length should not be more than 6cm as well.
You also need a good eraser that can clean errors at the first wipe. However, it’s not easy to pick up the right stationery from the onset. With a little practice and adjustments, you should find the right one soon.
2. Use the right handwriting worksheets
If you want to improve your child’s handwriting, then you should avoid starting with regular ruled pages or plain white paper.
They need to learn the proportions of their alphabets and space letters properly.
So, you should invest in four-lined pages with brightly colored lines. This will help them improve their handwriting fast and easily.
3. Hold the pencil properly
The first real step to improve your child’s handwriting involves helping them learn the tripod grasp. Not having this grasp will make writing worse.
The tripod grasp involves holding the pencil in place using the thumb, index, and middle fingers.
Fortunately, by the time your child enters preschool, they should know how to model this behavior. You can also help them reinforce this grasp as well.
Source: Growing hands-on kids
4. Apply pressure
To improve your child’s handwriting, you need to teach them how to apply the right amount of pressure on the pencil.
Monitor your child’s writing by checking the kind of imprint left on the next page. If there’s a strong imprint, it might be due to stress.
So even if the handwriting turns out neat, undue pressure and stress is unhealthy for your child. That pressure can also cause eyesight issues and finger cramping. Help your child deal with that stress to start writing calmly.
5. Work within the lines
Help your child learn how to work within the lines of the handwriting paper. This helps them to get alphabet proportions right. It also makes their handwriting more readable. Here are some steps that can help:
- Use colored handwriting sheets that provide guides for each letter.
- Capital letters go from the top to the bottom line. They are twice the size of lowercase letters.
- Make sure the letters don’t sink or float by always positioning the bottom of the letter on the line (except for tails).
6. Learn the correct directions
While teaching your child to write letters from top-down, don’t forget that they need to work from left to right.
Help them learn the correct motion and direction with regular practice.
7. Work on spacing words
After each word, help your kid place their finger on the paper. Tell them to start the next word on the other side of their finger. This process helps them space their words correctly.
If your child is left-handed, you can use a popsicle stick. Alternatively, they can make a small dot after every word. This helps them learn to add a space after every word.
8. Help your child differentiate similar letters
Letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’ can be confusing. Engage in games that can help them distinguish between both letters.
Other commonly confused letters include:
- ‘M’ and ‘W’.
- ‘v’ and ‘u’
- ‘g’ and ‘j’
- ‘t’ and ‘l’
9. Focus on proportions
To improve your child’s handwriting, you also need to focus on proportions.
Good handwriting will pay proper attention to the size, distance, width and style of each letter.
10. Be patient
Writing too quickly can make it hard for your child to develop good handwriting.
Good penmanship demands patience.
11. Practice consistently
One of the best ways to improve your child’s handwriting is to help them practice as much as they can. Try to sneak in writing throughout the day using games and everyday activities.
You can also make the writing lessons fun by using colored pencils, markers, gel, or glitter pens.
Also, incorporate non-writing activities to enhance their fine motor skills. Here are a few examples:
- Cutting paper
- Using cutlery
- Playing Jenga and LEGO
- Using clay and stringing beads.
12. Help identify and solve underlying problems
Look out for handwriting problems and help them find solutions with positive reinforcement. Here are some problems to look out for:
- Inconsistency in upper and lower case writing
- Difficulty spacing of words
- Difficulty in copying words
- Spelling or grammatical errors
- Lack of sense of direction
- Poor sizing of letters
- Poor letter formation
- Wrong pencil grasp
Handwriting is an important motor skill to help strengthen fine motor skills. It helps your kids improve their hand strength and finger dexterity.
Hence you should work towards helping them improve their endurance of writing tasks. With the steps outlined in this guide, you can help improve your child’s handwriting in no time.