Unfortunately, many schools have eliminated teaching one of the most critical elements of education: handwriting. Although children are expected to write legibly, many have never been taught how. Without a solid writing foundation, many kids begin to form bad writing habits and then struggle with handwriting throughout the rest of their formal education. Stop these bad habits from forming and help your child build a strong writing foundation with these handwriting tips for kids!
#1 Get the right grasp
Many kids are at a disadvantage with writing even before their pencil hits the paper because they are using an immature grasp for their age. Pencil grasps follow a typical developmental progression and by around age 3.5, children should be using a “tripod grasp” or holding the pencil with 3 fingers, similar to the grasps of older children and adults. Check out this article, Teaching Kids Pencil Grasp for easy ways to get your child’s grasp to where it should be.
#2 Start with Lines
Each letter in the alphabet is made up of some combination of vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved lines, so if your child can draw these lines, then he has the capability to make each letter. There is a typical developmental progression for drawing lines, so make sure you follow this sequence when introducing lines:
#3 Move to Shapes
After your child learns how to draw each line, help them to practice placement and connecting lines together by drawing shapes. The basic shapes (cross, circle, square, and diamond) contain all of the line types needed to make each letter. Follow this sequence of shape drawing:
#4- Don’t learn letters in ABC order
One of the most common mistakes is teaching handwriting in ABC order. As mentioned above, children’s handwriting follows a natural pattern of development (vertical lines, horizontal lines, circular lines, and diagonal lines). So, it makes sense to teach the letters that contain horizontal and vertical lines first, then move to those with circles, and lastly those letters containing diagonals. Here’s the order of which letters to teach in accordance to developmental patterns:
#5- Use Dots for Correct Starting Points
Letters are meant to be formed in a top-down direction which means each letter needs to start at the top. If letters aren’t formed properly and they start at the bottom, there’s a greater tendency that the letter will be reversed (written backwards) or written illegibly. So, get your child in the habit of good letter formation by placing dots at the top of where each letter should begin.#6- Don’t just write letters, MAKE letters!
As with anything we learn, we retain information better when it’s presented in a hands-on way. Reinforce learning by making letters out of fun materials like Play Doh, Twizzlers, pipe cleaners, or popsicle sticks! After you build the letter several times, have the child trace it and then write it.
Whether your child is just beginning to learn how to write or has been writing for years, its never to late to try these tips for writing improvement!
Help me with my autistic son and hand writing ..He hates it
Amy Smith says
My best advise is to try to make handwriting not “feel” like handwriting. Try some of the activities in the fine motor section and Handwriting Help secion for ways to improve writing skills without actually doing writing! Good luck!
Do you have anything for cursive writing? We are teaching our autistic 12 year old because it lacks the stop and go, picking up and placing the pencil, her printing is all over the place and cursive seemed to have a flow to it. Her writing has improved since beginning to teach her cursive. Thank you.
Amy Smith says
Thanks for the question Alyson… I do not yet have a post on cursive writing but I have been asked now by a few different readers to include one. I will keep that idea in mind and will hope to get to it sometime in the near future, so keep reading!! 🙂
My son has odd possible adhd and autistic traits. He hates writing and it’s usually done so fast and sloppy.
Amy Smith says
Look at other factors that are influencing attention. Here is a great link for tips on getting kids to sit still and focus… https://kidsplaysmarter.com/help-my-child-cant-sit-still/
Peepal Prodigy School says
A great blog to teach good handwriting for kids. There should be separate classes for teaching handwriting. If this practice is implemented, children wouldn’t struggle in the future by their bad handwriting habits. Thanks for sharing this information. It will be useful for parents as well as school teachers.
Amy Smith says
Thank you so much for reading and seeing the importance of building good writing habits!