Poems, Stories, Birthday Cards – these are all treasures that we love to receive from our children.
But how can we forget the pang of guilt we feel when reading the handwriting on these heartfelt gifts can sometimes feel similar to decoding the Rosetta Stone?
Neat and clear handwriting is arguably one of the most important fine motor skills that every child needs to develop, so we have compiled a list of our ten top tips to improving your child’s handwriting.
1.Using the Correct Stationary
It is important that you provide your child with the correct equipment to get them enthused and excited about the process.
A good pencil helps to improve grip, reduce pressure on the page and produce dark and neat writing. A thick lead is vital and the pencil should be no longer than 6cm in length.
A good eraser is also useful to help get rid of errors at the beginning of the process. Keeping pages as neat and crisp as possible will keep morale high and teach your child perseverance and the art of starting again.
The best paper to help your child begin to learn to size their alphabet and space the letters correctly should be four lined pages, ideally with brightly coloured lines. With practice this will help them to pick up cursive handwriting much more swiftly.
2.Holding the Pencil Correctly
Although this might sound obvious, the way a child holds a pencil will greatly impact their ability to form letters and improve their handwriting.
The pencil should be held in place with the thumb, index and middle fingers.
By modelling this behaviour and demonstrating how you hold a writing implement, your child can learn how to correctly grasp a pencil.
If your child feels stressed or under pressure during handwriting practice the quality of their work could be greatly impacted and they may begin to associate negative emotions with such exercises.
If there is a strong imprint on the pad then it means that they are applying too much pressure on the pencil.
Applying too much pressure can lead to finger cramping and/or eyesight issues in the future so it really is best to nip such habits in the bud as soon as you notice them.
Try to build a calm and light hearted atmosphere letting them know that everybody makes mistakes – that’s what erasers are for after all!
Sometimes children write illegibly to cover up their mistakes whether these are grammatical or spelling errors.
In cases like this it may be better to find a solution to these underlying problems rather than focusing too heavily on handwriting practice.
5.Be your Child’s Cheerleader
Most children love to try new things, so it is important that you show them that you are optimistic and excited too – no matter if it’s a poker face!
It goes without saying that children need a happy and positive environment at all times, but this is particularly important when it comes to handwriting practice.
Mastering the art of neat handwriting is rarely a quick process, most adults still fall prey to scribbles and scratching out illegible words.
For this reason children need to feel encouraged and not afraid to make mistakes, they will happen but that’s totally ok. When it comes to handwriting, practice (and a lot of it!) really does make perfect!
6.Practice the Patience of a Saint
No two children are the same, they all develop, learn and even play in different ways. So it makes complete sense that some children take a little bit longer to hone their handwriting skills.
Patience is absolutely essential when helping your child to improve their handwriting. You must let them know that you are in this for the long haul and will be there to support them throughout every scribble, upside down letter and pencil thrown on the floor in fury.
Children often mimic behaviour so if they see you behaving in a calm and composed manner (no matter how much that eye is twitching) they will likely follow suit and find much more enjoyment in handwriting practice.
7.Fine Tune Motor Skills
Enhancing fine motor skills can help children to hold a pencil properly, balance the page, maintain posture and enhance control and coordination.
Playing games and solving puzzles help to strengthen motor skills, but even simple activities such as setting the table, tidying up toys and folding clothes can help hone fine motor skills. Activities such as colouring, moulding clay, cutting with scissors and using a knife and fork help to strengthen a child’s wrist and fingers and enhances coordination and dexterity.
8.Put Things into Perspective
A big reason why children struggle to develop neat handwriting is due to neglecting size and proportion. Every single letter of the alphabet is designed in a specific way and clear handwriting will maintain the size, width, distance and style perfectly.
To help your child grasp the importance of size and proportion try explaining and showing the difference between a capital and lower-case letter. Write out each version of every letter of the alphabet so they can see how you hold your pen and how you move your hand across the page.
9.Play the long game
Unfortunately there are no quick fixes when it comes to improving handwriting. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could all pick up a pencil and immediately be able to write beautiful calligraphy across a page? But where is the sense of achievement it that?
Neat handwriting is an accomplishment that should be worn with pride! Although it may not always seem like it, those hours and hours of practice will pay off and one day your children will thank you for it!
At first thought handwriting practice may not be the first activity that one associates with the word ‘fun’. Tears at the kitchen table? Maybe.
However, no more! Nowadays there is a plethora of online activities, puzzles and games to help keep children engaged and enthused about improving their handwriting.
Of course, the act of physically writing is the most impactful method of improving handwriting. Why not get children involved in everyday activities such as writing the shopping list or writing letters to their friends or Grandparents?
For a great supply of free printable handwriting practice worksheets click here.