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How To Improve Kids' Handwriting: 13 Effective Ways

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Good handwriting is a gift that keeps on giving. It often helps create a favorable impression of the individual and may even boost a child’s confidence, focus, memory, and hand-eye coordination.

Problems with messy handwriting can start at a young age. That is why it’s essential to teach children the correct way to write before any bad habits can form. All it takes to improve your child’s handwriting is incorporating a few small changes that make a huge difference. Keep reading this post to learn some tips on handwriting for kids.

How To Improve Handwriting For Kids?

Here are a few simple ways through which you can help your children improve their handwriting.

1. Use the right pencil or pen

Using the right stationery is one of the elementary steps to improve handwriting. Pens and pencils that are too thick or too thin can make writing difficult. The pen or pencil should be of the right size for your child’s hands to hold it appropriately and write in a proper flow. Young children in preschool or kindergarten who have a weak grasp may have an easier time using a thick pencil or crayons. Using golf-sized (very short) pencils encourages children to use an appropriate grasp rather than using their entire fist to hold it, as children tend to do initially. Not just the pen or pencil, even the paper should be high-quality for good handwriting.

2. Ensure the right grasp

The right grasp and hand position are crucial for producing good handwriting. The most effective method of holding a pencil is the ‘tripod grasp.’ To achieve it, you position the writing instrument between the thumb and the index finger while it rests on the side of the middle finger. The ring and small finger curl into the palm. The child should have a firm yet relaxed grip that allows them to write smoothly without straining or exhausting their fingers.

You can encourage children to use crayons, cut with scissors, thread beads on string or pipe cleaners, build with small connecting blocks, use tweezers or clothespins to pick up objects, and try finger painting to promote the tripod grasp. It’s essential to develop a good grasp in the formative years, so they become confident and display legible handwriting as they grow older.

Tip: If you child continues to have difficulty achieving the tripod grasp, try using pencil grips. These reduce fatigue and prevent muscle cramps, resulting in improved handwriting.

3. Write at the right speed

Setting the right pace is important. When children write too fast, they lose control, cannot accurately form letters, and make mistakes. Similarly, slow writing could cause them to lose interest.

Speedy writers will usually slow down if they are asked to review and edit each word or sentence (depending on their developmental level) immediately after they’ve written it rather than waiting until the end of the writing task. Having a child spend time editing all of their illegible letters and words will encourage them to take the time to write them correctly the first time. Take notice of your child’s current pace and work toward improving it to one which will allow them to write the best quality letters. Consistent practice will help improve your child’s writing speed.

4. Use the right pressure

Many children apply too much pressure by pressing their pen or pencil tiptoo hard on the paper. It stresses their fingers, makes it harder to create smooth lines, decreases their legibility, and may even cause the paper to tear.

The grip should be light but firm. Lighter pressure allows the hand to move smoothly. It will help make your child’s handwriting neat and aesthetically pleasing. You have to be patient as it takes practice to find the right pressure.

To help your child learn how much pressure to use when writing, try using a mechanical pencil. This serves as an effective reminder because the lead tip will break if they press too hard. There are also fun ways to practice pencil pressure without actually writing! Give your child a small picture to color using only a lead pencil, and help them explore how to make different shades of grey by altering the amount of pressure applied. At snack time, have your child try to pick up small marshmallows using tweezers without leaving any indentations.

5. Make writing fun

Children will likely become bored if they are asked to write the same letters or words over and over again. Make writing fun and purposeful for them. Rather than copying words, introduce exciting elements to motivate them and make it a non-stressful affair.

From filling crossword puzzles and playing hangman to anagrams and simple word puzzles, try things that are likely to make writing a fun task. You can even give them rainbow-colored pencils or pens to make writing exciting. Many children also enjoy writing with Q-tips and paint, using chalk to write outdoors, and completing MadLibs. Older children might like to help you write the weekly grocery list or write a letter to a favorite athlete or movie star.

6. Strengthen fingers and wrist

Writing involves the muscles of fingers, wrist, and palm. It’s essential to strengthen these muscles to prevent fatigue and improve stamina.

Several non-writing activities, such as coloring, using spoons and forks, sewing, knitting, playing board games, kneading and playing with dough, using tweezers or clothespins to sort small objects, and wheelbarrow walking (child walks on their hands while the adult holds their ankles in the air) or imitating animal walks that include the child supporting a significant amount of their weight on their hands, can all strengthen fingers and wrists and improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

7. Increase reading time

Did you know reading can improve writing? The more a child sees well-proportioned, neatly printed letters, the higher the chances they’ll use them while writing and improve their handwriting.

8. Ensure an appropriate environment

When your child is practicing writing, make sure the environment is conducive. A comfortable chair that allows a child to rest their feet on the floor or a foot rest and a table or desk that comes to approximately elbow-height when the child is sitting will put their body in the best position to write. Distractions can negatively affect learning and make it hard for them to absorb information and stay engaged, so finding a quiet area is important. A well lit room will allow your child to clearly see their work.. Comfort, noise, and lighting can all affect writing skills.

9. Set a schedule

Establish a consistent time each day or week to practice writing. You will need to pick a time when they are not watching their favorite TV show, and their tummies are full. Try not to schedule before playtime as they might have more difficulty concentrating and focusing on their work. Writing practice tends to work well when scheduled after a gross motor activity so the child get their “wiggles out” before attempting to complete quiet, seated tasks.

10. Do not force

Forcing a child to practice handwriting is not a solution. It’s important to be calm and patient while you help your child. Even if they make mistakes, point out only one mistake at a time and help them with corrections. Being positive will improve their morale and ensure they learn from their mistakes.

Also, take it slow and teach them one letter or word at a time rather than multiple sentences at once. It’s important to give them breaks to get up and stretch, do a few jumping jacks, or use the restroom. These simple tips will make the learning process more enjoyable for everyone.

11. Focus on posture

Correct posture can significantly help improve handwriting. Sitting on the floor or couch while writing is not the best posture for legible writing. Have your child sit on a sturdy chair and ask them to rest their arms on the table. Their torso should be upright, and their feet well-supported on the ground. Such a posture prevents strain on the muscles and helps improve handwriting. If your child’s feet cannot reach the ground, stack several thick books under their feet until they can rest comfortably.

12. Use handwriting worksheets and lined papers

Writing on ruled lines will help a child learn the appropriate size of letters. In other words, the lower case “a” is half the height of a capital “A.” Lines also ensure that the handwriting is straight and not downhill or uphill.

Tip: If you’re using a blank sheet of paper, you can use a ruler to draw light lines. If needed, a highlighter ot thick marker can be used to visually emphasize the lines. Using guided material will help improve penmanship and build confidence.

13. Be flexible

Take baby steps with your child. Asking them to write too much can result in frustration and fatigue which leads to illegible handwriting. Begin with a brief, five-minute practice and increase gradually. Moreover, too many rules could make the process of practicing handwriting less enjoyable. Therefore, focus on breaking down the practice to focus on only one or two skills at a time for better results.

Tip: Don’t just tell your child to write and practice. Instead, make it a fun-filled experience by asking thought-provoking questions or writing out a few words and letting them complete the page.

Handwriting is an essential life skill that your child will need in the years to come. As a parent, encourage children to practice handwriting, but do not force them or expect perfection. Help your child every step of the way, and you will see the desired results. With the right amount of zeal and practice, your child will be a fine penman in no time.

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Dana Sciullo

(MOT, OTR/L)
Dana Sciullo is a licensed and registered occupational therapist in the US, specializing in pediatrics. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dana has been working as an occupational therapist since 2015 in multiple settings including schools, outpatient clinics, and telehealth. Having completed extensive continuing education in the areas... more

Bharathi V

Bharathi is a content developer and writer with over 20 years of experience in creating original content for e-books, articles, websites, blogs, ads, brochures, company profiles, speeches, business presentations, instructional design and more. She has also edited financial papers and books. She writes kids’ education-based articles for MomJunction. Bharathi is associated with The Hindu group of publications in their STEP program,... more