You turn the pages of your child’s homework and find yourself squinting to read what they’ve written. You make sense of some text, but the rest is just not decipherable.
It may not seem like a big thing, but the child’s bad handwriting could make you worry. Handwriting is a fine-motor skill that develops with practice. Some kids can develop good handwriting at an early age, whereas some struggle with it. Adopting the right methodology can help kids and teens improve their writing.
In this MomJunction post, we list a few tips that will give you an idea on how to improve the handwriting of kids.
11 Tips For Improving The Handwriting Of Kids
Some of the common reasons for poor handwriting are poor grasping of the pencil, incorrect sizing and formation of the letters, inadequate spacing between words, and inappropriate upper and lower case usage.
Here are some strategies you can follow to help your child or teen to improve their handwriting.
1. Developing a positive attitude
A child may not understand the importance of good handwriting as grown-ups do. They may not worry about it or understand what they can do to improve it. This is when you, as a parent, can help the child. Rather than reprimanding them or humiliating them for their illegible writing, try to encourage them to make it better and readable. A positive approach can boost their confidence and help them improve their writing sooner.
2. Learning to grasp a pen or pencil correctly
Grasping a pen or pencil properly between the fingers is the first step for writing. If the child is in the early grades at school, then teachers can help them learn the technique.
You too can teach the child the correct way to hold a pencil – between the thumb and the index finger, with the middle finger supporting the pencil a little. The pencil should be held between the bridge of the thumb and the index finger with gentle pressure. If the child still has difficulty getting a good grip of the pencil, you can get them pencil grips for improving the hold.
3. Improving the proportions of letters
An important aspect of developing neat handwriting is to get the proportions of the letters correct. This can be achieved by using a ruled book. By practicing to write the letters as shown in this handwriting book, children learn to write the letters in appropriate sizes and also figure out the placement of capital and small letters in a word. Basically, they understand that small letters are half-the-size of the capital letters.
4. Getting the right pace
We need to understand that every child has their own pace of writing. Some write slowly, and some fast, and neither should be forced to change their speed. Set a specific time for the child to finish the writing assignment and let them choose their own speed. With practice, they will be able to achieve the right speed. You can also get them a few printable sheets for practicing handwriting.
5. Avoid pressurizing them
Asking the child to hurry up, write faster or slower can add to the pressure of completing a task and may not aid in improving their handwriting. Rushing a child who likes to write slowly can ruin their handwriting. Likewise, asking the one who writes at a faster pace to slow down could affect their flow of writing and eventually result in bad writing.
6. Making the activity fun
Make handwriting practice fun with writing activities that can be tried at home and school. One interesting activity is ‘connect the dots’. Start with simple things such as the standing, sleeping, and slanting lines. Get the printable sheets that promote practice on these patterns. It can help them to write the letters correctly without creating any shaky lines.
7. Using occupational therapy
Occupational therapy is usually provided in schools and can develop a child’s fine motor skills. It can improve the child’s attention span and strengthen the muscles of the hands and wrists, enabling them to develop a good grip. Activities such as playing with Lego blocks, stringing beads, clay modeling, coloring, and paper-cutting are often included in this therapy.
8. Increasing the reading time
Reading can affect writing. The more a child or a teen reads, the more they observe the size, shape, and placement of the letters of the alphabet. This they can recreate while writing. Get them to read books in different fonts to help them create a unique style of their own.
9. Monitoring the writing manner
It is important to monitor a child’s writing. If their writing makes impressions on the next page of the book, it means they are exerting excessive pressure on the pencil. Though that may help them write well, putting a lot of pressure on fingers can lead to finger cramping.
10. Choosing the right stationery
For good handwriting, you must have good quality writing material. The right pencil can aid in smooth writing, even if the child doesn’t put extra pressure for neat and dark writing. Along with the quality of the pencil and paper, the child should also have an eraser and a pencil sharpener during handwriting practice. Lack of good writing tools could be frustrating for the child, who might eventually become disinterested in the activity.
11. Identifying any underlying problem
A child may deliberately slip to illegible handwriting to cover their spelling or grammatical errors. Other issues, such as low self-esteem can also force them to write in an unclear manner. Dealing with the underlying problem is essential to fix the child’s handwriting.
Improving a child’s handwriting is not as easy as it may seem. You have to be patient, learn the techniques yourself, and find interesting ways to teach the child to write better. Encourage the child to keep trying until the writing becomes legible. If necessary, you could enroll them in handwriting classes to learn simpler and more effective techniques to improve their writing and also learn creative writing styles.
Does your child have a tough time writing neatly or legibly? How do you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below.