Ideas for Parents to Help With Handwriting

Whether you're the parent of a child with messy handwriting or remember struggling with your own penmanship as a youngster, you know how discouraging it is to not be able to read a page of writing. Ensure that your child's brilliant ideas are legible by helping her with her handwriting at home. Many of the same ideas will help children who are just learning penmanship and those who are plagued with sloppy writing.

The Basics

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.

Tactile Practice

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.

Correct Deficiencies

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 1. 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.