Basic handwriting analysis can be performed by looking at a few key features of a writing sample. Have the child write a few sentences on a blank sheet of paper. It is important that the paper does not have lines. Look for some basic features in the writing, such as line slope, letter size, letter slope, spacing and letter decoration. Analyzing these features can give you an overall picture of the child's inner personality traits.
A child whose writing tends to slope upward can indicate cheerfulness, while a downward slope can indicate mental wariness. Letters sloping to the left can indicate an introverted personality, while right sloped letters show extroverted tendencies. Word spacing indicates the child's social interactions. Spacing close together shows the child may be particularly social, whereas large spaces can indicate a feeling of disconnect or contentedness being alone. A child with decorative writing can show a desire to be noticed.
Identifying Learning Difficulties
Handwriting analysis can also be used as a screening mechanism for some learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. A child with dyslexia may consistently write words out of order, reverse letters or invert letters. For example, a child with dyslexia may write the letter "n" as "u" and the letter "w" as "m." A child with dysgraphia will have significant handwriting issues. Dysgraphia affects a child's ability to put onto paper what they are seeing with their eyes. He will have trouble following simple handwriting directions, and writing will be sloppy.
Teaching Handwriting Analysis to Children
Children can learn to analyze others' handwriting as well. Make a variety of writing samples with some of the basic handwriting features, such as writing that slopes upward and downward and words slanting both right and left. Have the child identify what characteristics are present in the writing sample. After she is able to identify these key features, discuss the significance of these features on the writer's personality.
Zaner-Bloser is the style of handwriting that most teachers teach students. This is a form of block letters called manuscript and cursive. For print, the letters are vertical and squared. The lines are completely straight. Words are spaced evenly. In cursive the lines are swirled. Capital letters include embellishments, which are loops on the tails. The letters are slanted to the right instead of being vertical.
The Palmer Method was introduced in the 19th century as a form of business writing, according to the website Zanerian. This manuscript has finer lines than Zaner-Bloser. The lines of the letters are straight. Curves in letters are more circular and bubbled. Palmer cursive is slanted to the right and swirled. Capital letters have larger swirls in them. For instance, an "R" or "P" would both have bubble-looped swirls in their stems. The space between the letters is wider.
Cute handwriting is used by many teenage girls. This handwriting in both manuscript and cursive has very fine lines. The letters are big, round and bubbled, according to Kinsella Research. Many of teenagers also incorporate little pictures into their writing instead of writing out the full word or as an embellishment. These pictures include hearts and smiley faces dotting "i"s or stars for "o"s.
D'Nealian is also known as modern manuscript. The manuscript letters in this type of handwriting are slanted to the right. They contain sharp angles, swirls or curves. Letters such as "n," "i" and "t" have tails. Cursive letters all have concave and convex curves. There are almost no straight lines. The letters are all vertical and have short tails at the end of them.
Give your child plenty of opportunities to practice forming letters in a low-pressure environment. Keep basic supplies such as paper, pencils, markers, tape and crayons in a place where your little one can use them freely. Hang an alphabet poster where she can easily refer to it. Offer her tracing pages as she gains familiarity with the letter shapes. Remember that good handwriting is made up of circles, curves and straight lines, so encouraging your child to draw pictures is important to penmanship, too.
Give your child tactile experiences with handwriting that go beyond pencil and paper. Have her write her name or the alphabet with her finger on a baking tray covered in sand or shaving cream. She can write in Play-Doh with a toothpick or write disappearing words on the front porch with a paintbrush and a jar of water. Alternatively, write giant letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. It'll be so fun your child won't mind practicing her penmanship one bit.
If your child has been writing for a while and still has trouble with her penmanship, check for common mistakes. Is she holding the pencil correctly? She should grasp the pencil near the sharpened end with the thumb, index and pointer fingers. Is she rushing? Remind her to slow down and her handwriting is likely to improve. Is she pressing down too hard as she writes? Too much force will make writing tiring and difficult. In addition, encourage her to use lined paper as a guide to help with proper spacing and proportions.
Make Handwriting Relevant
Sometimes kids just don't see the importance of legible penmanship, especially as technology makes it easier to replace handwriting with typing. Make a point of creating a need for handwriting in your child's daily life. Put her in charge of writing up the grocery list or that thank-you card to Grandma. Remind her that if the mail carrier can't read the address, the card will never make it to its destination. She will be more likely to do her best when there is a clear reason why writing neatly matters.