Poor handwriting doesn’t only negatively affect students’ academic performance; a study has shown that it has a link with low self-esteem. Hence, as a parent of a child whose handwriting needs improvement, this article on how to improve handwriting for kids would be valuable to you.
Before You Get Worried
It is important you understand that handwriting has milestones. From age 1, a child can start grabbing a pencil and scribble with it, but at this age, he or she would use all the five fingers. Before a child is expected to start grabbing a pencil properly and start writing with it, he or she should be about 6 years.
This is the age children develop the dynamic tripod grasp – the use of three fingers, which is ideal for holding a pencil. It is at this age you need to pay more attention to your child’s writing.
The following tips would help improve the handwriting of your child.
Tips on How to Improve Handwriting for Kids
- Teach the proper way of holding a pencil
The way a child holds a pencil affects the quality of his or her writing. Therefore, the first thing you should do if you want your child’s handwriting to improve is to teach the proper way of holding a pencil. This should have been taught in school, but you can complement the teacher’s effort.
Make the child hold the pencil with his or her thumb, index, and middle fingers, and ensure the lead of the pencil is thick so that it can be visible on the paper. The pencil should also not be more than 6 cm.
- Get the right stationery
You need to get the right writing-practise materials if you want your child to become a legible writer. Instead of buying plain white paper or regular ruled pages for your child when starting off with learning how to write, go for four lined pages with brightly coloured lines. This would allow him or her to learn about the size of alphabets and spacing of letters. He or she would also pick up cursive handwriting easily.
In addition to that, to improve handwriting for kids, the pencil should be easy to grip, and the kids shouldn’t have to apply lots of pressure before the pencil produces neat, dark write-ups. At the same time, the eraser should clean up errors at the first instance of scrubbing it on the paper.
Having to spend lots of time erasing errors or having to sharpen the pencil at a frequent interval can get kids frustrated and make them lose interest in the writing process.
- Teach how to relax the grip
As your child starts practising how to write, pay close attention to the pressure exerted on the book. If there is a strong imprint on the next page or the desk, it means he or she is applying lots of pressure on the book.
This could be a sign that the child is stressed, and it can lead to finger cramping, as too much pressure on the paper means the fingers are being overused. To prevent this, help him or her to manage the stress.
Teach how to relax the grip and calmly hold the pencil when writing.
- Improve the fine motor skills
Since writing involves moving the muscles of the hand, improving the fine motor skills will significantly help to improve handwriting for kids. If your child attends a Montessori school, he or she would be engaged in games and puzzles that help improve these skills, and he or she wouldn’t have any problem holding a pencil properly. He or she would also learn how to write neatly on a page.
Whether or not your child attends a Montessori school, you can help improve his or her fine motor skills by engaging him or her in tasks such as laying the table for dinner, folding the laundry and arranging the toys. You can also engage the child in fun activities that help develop fine motor skills like colouring, moulding with clay, stringing beads and playing with LEGO toys.
- Be encouraging
Kids don’t like it when they are scolded or talked down for making mistakes when learning a new skill. They want to be encouraged to keep trying until they get it right. So, as you are taking your time to improve the handwriting of your kid, be encouraging while doing it. Make it fun and make the environment positive.
The practice location in the house should also be carefully set up; the table should be convenient, the chair should have back support, and the lamp shouldn’t strain the eyes.
- Look for the root of the problem
At times, children write illegibly to cover up their spelling and grammatical errors. It is also believed that children with low self-confidence can find themselves writing incomprehensibly.
In this situation, the focus shouldn’t be about how to improve handwriting for kids – but about how to solve the underlying problems.
- Focus on proportions
The challenge with some children’s handwriting is that they are not focused on proportions. They don’t know how to write in the right size, width, distance, and style, based on the case of letters.
If your child has this challenge, show him or her the difference between the upper and lower case of each letter. Some alphabets slightly resemble one another, and this makes some children mistake them. Examples of such alphabets include, “m and w,” “ v and u,” “g and j,” as well as ” t, l, and I.”
Help your child to focus on these alphabets and be able to write them without resembling one another.
- Encourage practice and be patient
If you want your child’s handwriting to be very legible, then continuous practice is your best bet. Get the required stationery and allow him or her to practice. There are also many games and handwriting practice worksheets online that can help to improve handwriting for kids. You may want to consider them, as they add fun to the writing process.
Besides, you have to be very patient, as it may take some time before you see the needed improvement. Some children have a low attention span, and so may easily get distracted while practising. Be patient and always find a way to re-engage your child.
Having good handwriting is an attribute that every child must have, because of its obvious advantage. By following the tips provided in this post, your child’s handwriting is guaranteed to become more legible.