How To Teach Your Child Good Handwriting

Teacher and her student smiling
Good handwriting is very important, even in this day and age. Having handwriting that others can read can help you in school and beyond. However, teaching and helping your child's handwriting improve can be hard to do. One step at a time and you can help your child have better handwriting.

Step 1

Have the proper attitude. While it is important that your child have good handwriting, it is a bad idea to get stressed about it. This will only stress your child out and make it harder for him or her to learn proper writing techniques and to stay relaxed while forming his letters.   

Step 2

Set the proper atmosphere. Distractions can cause hasty writing, interruptions, and make for uneven spacing and improper lettering. It is important to keep it quiet and to eliminate distractions. Learning proper handwriting is much like learning other things in life and it requires an atmosphere that is set up for learning.

*Proper materials are also important. Make sure they have a good pen or pencil. Make sure that the pencil is sharp. Get some practice paper as well as blank and lined paper.  

Step 3

Have the proper position. Position is very important for good writing. There are several things that should be in the proper position and getting set up for good writing is one of the first things to do.

Sitting position-The first thing is to have your child sit up with his or her feet on the floor. This is the best writing position and will make him more comfortable throughout the process. 

Paper position-The paper should be at a 45-degree angle from the writing hand. To accomplish this, place the paper straight up and down on the table. Gently tilt the top left corner down 45 degrees for a right-handed person and up for a left-handed person. This will give a good writing angle. 

Hand on the pencil position-Have your child hold the pencil about one inch from the tip. The pencil should be held between the first two fingers and the thumb with the other fingers curled underneath. 

Wrist position-It is important that the wrist stay gently curved and the hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder stay relaxed. 

Step 4

Work on forming the letters. If your child is in school, then it is a good idea to get a copy of the letters that he is working on there. This will help your instruction be the same as that he is already receiving. If you are working with a homeschooled child, then it is important that you show him the letters the same each time.

Once you have an alphabet picked out, you can help your child work on forming the letters correctly by having them trace over them. This can be done with practice paper (the type with large spacing and a dotted line to help show sizing and shapes). Have them take a colored pencil or marker and trace over the letters. You can also use wax paper to place on top of the letter and have them draw it on the wax paper.

Other options for practicing forming letters can be using finger paints for a fun activity that will help your child. A white board or a chalkboard can also be helpful for learning to form the letters. 

Step 5

Work on the size of the letters. Letter size is sometimes a tricky thing. After all, you have the letters with ascenders such as b, d, h, k and so on and descenders such as j, g, and y. Then there are capital letters and lower case ones. It can all get a bit confusing when size comes to play.

Have your child practice on paper without lines or on a white board or chalkboard. Have his goal be to make his letters correctly, in the right position in relation to each other (with ascenders going above the small letters and descenders going below), and also in correct size proportion to each other.

Use practice paper (the type with large spacing and dotted lines) to help practice the size in relation to each other. Ascending letters should have the top of the letter end just before the top line. Capitals should be just slightly shorter then the ascending letters. Descending letters should go down to the line below the bottom line. All small letter shapes (including most of the shapes involved in ascending and descending letters) should be between the dotted line and the bottom line.  

Step 6

Work on letter and word spacing. Spacing is what lets the letters go from meaningless forms to words that mean something. There are three spacing problems that need to be dealt with.

Letters spaced out too far-Letters don't mean anything by themselves and if the letters within a word are spaced out too far, it will make reading it difficult. This is easy to see because there will be word-sized spaces within a word. Ju st lik e t hi s. If your child is working on printing, then have him space his letters by resting the tip of the pencil next to the letter and then moving it one more pencil tip over. You can even have him draw a small dot in the middle by turning the pencil. Practice paper can help a great deal. In cursive writing, the letters connect making the spacing of the letters easier to do.

Words too close together-If words don't have proper spacing, then a piece becomes hard to read. Justlikethis. To encourage proper spacing between words, have your child place his pinkie finger at the edge of the word to measure how far the next word should be from the last. 

Letters too close or words too far apart-While it isn't as common, some children have a hard time with getting their letters too close or their words too far apart. These things can be fixed using the same methods as above. Make sure there is at least one pencil tip worth of space between letters and only a finger's width of space between words. 

Step 7

Practice makes perfect. The old saying that practice makes perfect is definitely true when it comes to handwriting. Give your child a lot of different options for practicing his handwriting. This will let him get better and better.

Step 8

A note about left-handers. Left-handed writers have a little bit of a harder time than many right-handed writers. To help your left-handed child, turn the paper to the right angle (to the right). It is also a good idea to have him stop and look at his letter formation every now and again. Part of his problem is often that he can't see his handwriting as he goes.

Step 9

Move on to note paper. Once your child is doing a good job forming his or her letters correctly, with the right size and spacing in mind, then you can move him to notebook paper. It is best to start with paper that has a wide rule because the lines will be set farther apart than college rule, making it easier to form his letters. Show him how to form his letters at this smaller size. Then let him practice.

Handwriting is important and can make for a more successful future. There will be lots of different opportunities for your student to use this skill in the coming years and having handwriting that is legible is always a good thing. Some studies show that teaching cursive writing first can help a student in having better handwriting. That is up to you and the child's teachers. However, whether teaching cursive or print, it is important that you teach proper letter formation, size, and spacing for good handwriting. Practice is also important!


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