All children have widely different handwriting styles. Some enjoy the process and display extraordinary results, others find it difficult and boring. However, good handwriting is important as most children are evaluated based on written examinations and the handwriting in the answer sheets should be neat. The good news is that handwriting can be easily improved with some practice and patience on both your and your child’s side.
HERE ARE SIX EASY STEPS TO IMPROVE A CHILD'S HANDWRITING:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TOOLS
First things first: we all know that the right tools can make any activity easier and more fun. Make sure your child has everything he needs to enjoy your handwriting practice time. Buy your child a good pen or a pencil – something that is both comfortable to hold an visually pleasing. Try a variety of different writing tools including a roll-on, ballpoint, felt pen, and, of course, traditional and mechanical pencils. If a child is struggling with a regular pen, try a smaller or shorter one – something kid-sized.
Another important step to developing better handwriting is buying – or printing out! – good writing paper. Ideally, you'll need a four-line notebook for handwriting practice. Those lines help with getting used to correctly proportioning of the letters, which is very important for developing neat handwriting. Lines also help writing straight instead of uphill or downhill. Make sure a child fills up the lines completely. Capital letters should stretch from the bottom line to the top one. Lowercase letters should be half the size of capital letters.
GET A GOOD GRASP
Nothing is more important for handwriting practice than getting a good grasp. Try it yourself: hold your pencil at the top and try to write something. Pretty tough, isn't it? But when you hold your pencil the correct way, writing is much easier. The pen should be held with the thumb and the index finger (or pointer finger), with the middle finger supporting it. Let the pen rest on the bridge between the thumb and index finger. You should also make sure that your kid is using their other hand to hold the paper they are writing on. Another very important detail is to check that none of the muscles in your child's hand are overly flexed and that they don't press down too hard when writing. Extra pressure makes it harder to make the smooth lines needed for writing practice. If there are still problems with gripping the writing utensil, try using pencil grips, available in most stationery shops. Incorporate non-writing activities as sand play, playing with wooden blocks, colouring, cutting paper, stringing beads, playing dough, and even board games to help strengthen your child's fingers and wrist to prepare his hands for handwriting practice.
TAKE IT SLOW
Getting the right pace might be drastic for handwriting practice. For some children going slower solves a lot of problems. Going too fast leads to more mistakes, the wrong proportions, or messed-up spacing. On the other hand, some kids take a very long time to finish their writing practice which can make things less interesting to them. So, it is important to set a timeline and pace your child's writing accordingly.
MAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME
Writing whole passages at once won't improve your child's handwriting. Start with basic shapes. The letters are made up out of straight lines and circles or semicircles, so make sure your kid has enough practice drawing these. Fill up a whole sheet of paper with parallel vertical lines, parallel diagonal lines, ‘o’ shapes, and half 'o' shapes or print out several ready-made handwriting practice sheets. It helps warm up and gets your child's hand used to handwriting. When the basic shapes are perfected, move onto letter tracing.
Did you know there is a certain way to write each letter of the alphabet? For example, many children start a lowercase ‘a’ with the tail, but the right way is to begin at the top of the loop. Make sure your child follows the correct direction of the line that forms each letter outline. To improve their handwriting your child will have to fill up rows upon rows of lines with each letter of the alphabet in lower and upper case. Focus on the letters that cause the most trouble.
When you’re satisfied with your child's every letter’s perfection, start practising full words and sentences. For example, a great phrase that contains every single letter of the alphabet is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. Writing it repeatedly will help practice and improve handwriting a lot.
All in all, a set of basic handwriting practice sheets will help you to take one step at a time.
HAVE FUN WITH IT
The key to perfect handwriting is constant practice which can be a problem: constantly copying letters and words could be way too boring for a child. Look up fun games and activities that require kids to draw pictures or get creative with writing – anything that would make the process more fun. This way your child will definitely not lose interest in handwriting practice. Good examples of games that help with handwriting and precision would be connect-the-dots, hangman, simple word puzzles, playing anagrams, and many others. You can find a special lots of activity sheets online for pretty much each type of handwriting exercise.
Use your and your child's creativity. Encourage imaginative play. For example, pretend your child is a movie star or a famous person and ask him to give you an autograph over and over again. Write long handwritten letters to your relatives together. Imagine how thrilled your child's grandparents would be to get a handwritten letter from their favourite grandchild! Encourage your kid to find a pen-friend and write letters to him. If your child has a school project, ask if it is possible to handwrite the work and do it together. Make sure that you get in as much handwriting practice in as you can.
ENCOURAGE YOUR KID TO READ
As strange as it sounds, reading more can improve your child's writing skills. It is not only about reading comprehension, the point is for a kid to see neatly printed, well-proportioned letters and words. Kids will start subconsciously imitating that neatness of the printed script when they start to practice their writing. Do you know the best way to make your child read more? Be a good example and read a bit more yourself.
The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ certainly applies when we talk about improving handwriting. The more kids practice handwriting the better their papers look. Just remember that the way your child writes is not in any way related to his intelligence or character. Pressurizing won't make the process of handwriting practice easier. You need to make the process fun and enjoy it together with your kid. Remember: parenting is fun when you want it to be!