As a kid, we have all started with scribbling on a piece of paper/white board. Initially, with crayons/pencils and later with pen. We learnt to write alphabets and when we gained mastery over them, we shifted to cursive writing. We follow the same practice with our children too. Handwriting is not something that can be improved in a day or two. We have to work continuously towards it. Some kids love writing but others don’t. For some, putting their thoughts into words on paper is fun and an engaging activity but for others it could be some sort of tough task to accomplish.
Handwriting is a crucial part of one’s personality. Handwriting is a skill that improves with time and practice. Tracing shapes, breaking down letters and writing the alphabet will help children improve their handwriting, reading and of course language skill.
My grandmother was a Montessori teacher. She used to say that never force or pressurize a child to write very early. Their muscles require enough strength to hold the pencil with a nice grip. If they are not ready then they will write because you are saying but don’t expect a good handwriting at early stages. So, how to move forward with this process of improving a child’s handwriting? Here is my take:
- Ruled paper works well: Take ruled paper while practicing the alphabet even if your child knows how to write them. Otherwise the letters will look like dancing figures. Lines give a guide to let them write in a designated space.
- Does your child know the spelling correctly? When children come across any new word, then there is too much of erasing and correction. Sometimes they are not interested in handwriting practice, so they write words incorrectly to get rid of this sitting session. Or sometimes they get bored with a particularly difficult word and you can see its impact on their handwriting.
- Using her/his dominant hand plays a major role: Sometimes parents discourage the child from using their left hand. Imagine if we have to write using our left hand when we are a right-handed person? This is the discomfort that a left handed child faces when we prevent them from using their dominant hand.
- Holding the pencil with a nice grip: Children tend to imitate their elders/friends while holding pencil and writing. They want to feel like adults. Tell them the reason behind holding the pencil properly. And also keep an eye on the way they hold the pencil. Initially, ask them to use their finger breadth to space the words.
- Reading can improve handwriting: When you read with your child, use a pointer (a small stick, pencil or your finger). This will help them in paying attention to the words and their spellings. And it automatically clicks later when they have to write the words. Less mistakes, means less erasing and correction.
- Right ‘writing environment’: Sitting on chair in front a table at the right height, distance and in the right posture is very important. Don’t let your child lie down or have his head close to the notebook while writing.
Here is some other fun stuff that you can do with your child that strengthens their hand muscles:
- Lot of paper cutting, gluing, folding papers (origami)
- Tracing dots.
- Playing the maze game: It not only improves hand and eye coordination but also teaches them the pencil holding skill.
- Even playdough is a good option. Kneading the dough, pressing it, pulling it to make portions and cutting to get different shapes strengthens their muscles.
- Play games: Labeling the boxes. It could be anything – kitchen storage boxes, kid’s room boxes or anything you can think of. My daughter enjoyed labeling the boxes when we moved to Houston.
- Encourage daily writing: Occasionally, you can also ask them to write thank you notes or matter inside greeting cards. Every time stress over the need of good handwriting.
While growing up, our parents/teachers have stressed the need of good handwriting. I still remember my 5th grade teacher had beautiful handwriting. Wherever he would write on the blackboard it used to look as if alphabets are getting printed on their own in a calligraphy form. In school, we used to write with Ink pen and later shifted to ball pen.
It’s not the same anymore. Because technology has changed everything, nowadays kids are comfortable communicating using keyboard or messaging rather than writing. The ability to write well is important in schools and in some career choices as well even if most of the communication is through emails.
Regular writing practice, encouraging their efforts and little bit of extra attention and time can help in improving your kid’s handwriting.
I am Alpana Deo – wife, mom & person behind www.mothersgurukul.com. After finishing up my studies & then working in India for sometime, I came to the USA 9 years ago. During this span, I got to know American culture very closely. With a desire to stay connected to my educational background & hobby of writing, I put together my website ‘Mothers Gurukul’ – a place not only for moms but for all the parents who are trying to raise their kids in two very rich but totally different cultures. Join me on my journey.