You may feel like you’re the only parent who can’t read their child’s handwriting but, fear not, you are not alone. Many parents and teachers today have noticed that children and even teens do not seem to have the same quality of handwriting as children did in the past. We can put the blame firmly on the increase in electronic media use and the lost art of letter writing and of course the fact that children of today live in a world where their keyboarding skills are considered far more important than basic handwriting. But, good penmanship at any age is so important.
Of course your child doesn’t need to win any perfect penmanship contests to be successful in life but they really do need to have handwriting that is legible whether that be for homework, for filling in form applications or for good old-fashioned letter/card writing. Learning to write legibly is also one way to improve those fine motor skills for younger children and is something that should continue to be taught and encouraged at home after the school day is done as you simply cannot rely on children practicing at school in their junior years. As they say, practise makes perfect.
We’ve a few ways to make handwriting at home fun:
- Set aside some Time
Select a time in the day when you know they will concentrate fully, not when their favourite TV show is on or when they are hungry for example. In order to develop the physical requirements of writing, like holding a pencil correctly, posture, control, dexterity, coordination – the more time your child spends manipulating objects, the better. Even using silverware can help them develop their fine-motor skills.
- Make it Fun
Make practising fun and purposeful. Don’t just give them words to copy – simple word puzzles, anagrams, a game of hangman, or even list writing around a theme like shopping lists all makes for a non-stressful affair. Offering your child a special pencil or a rainbow of coloured ones to write with – even, a pen can be exciting for some children as often they can only use pencils at school.
- Make it the Everyday
Common handwriting problems lie in four main areas: letter formation, sizing, spaces between words, and line-alignment. Focus your child’s practice on the letters or concepts that challenge them and make sure they’re using two hands to control the paper. Think outside the box – a steamy bathroom mirror, a patch of mud, or even wet sand at the beach all make great surfaces. Whether your child’s practising with his fingers, a stick, or a pencil, this will inspire their creativity and encourage them further.
- Perfect Tools
If your child’s struggling with a regular pencil, try a smaller or shorter, kid-sized one. Ensure they have a good eraser handy so they’re not afraid of making mistakes. Although, many schools encourage crossing words out, so, follow the pattern they feel comfortable with at school so the messaging isn’t conflicting. We particularly love the range of pens and pencils at Stabilo, from ergonomic rollerball pens especially designed for left-or-right-handers, to the triangular, non-slip grip pencils that ensure a comfortable hand writing experience over long periods of time.
We spoke to Vanya Hunter, the Marketing Manager at STABILO for her top 3 tips to encourage your children to practise their handwriting skills. She said:
“Handwriting is as unique as fingerprints and is vital for learning, especially for school-aged children. The benefits to cognitive development are well documented, handwriting supports memory, consolidates understanding and makes longer-term retention of facts more robust. Stabilo has tools, tips and worksheets to support all those learning to write or parents encouraging their children’s handwriting development.”
- Your pen or pencil should be held in the recommended tripod grip.
- It’s important to keep sizing of handwriting consistent so it isn’t all up and down. A helpful way to learn this is to highlight alternating lines on your page and ask your child to keep the main body of each letter within the highlighted section.
- Maintaining spacing between words can be difficult, a fun and easy way to do this is to use your index finger in between words.