Help with Handwriting!
Helping your child with their handwriting can be a frustrating process, especially if they have got into bad habits and are finding it a challenge to correct. Here you’ll find information on all aspects of handwriting, from the sitting position to activities to help them master their handwriting.
Top Tips for Handwriting:
1) Sitting Position
Children often find it hard to sit with their back straight and feet on the ground, but this is vital for setting up good handwriting habits. They should not be too close to the table and not too far away; close enough that they can rest their elbows on the table. They should be leaning in towards the table, but all the time keeping their back straight.
2) Paper Position
Here is where so many get it wrong! For right-handed people, the paper should be slightly tilted (30°-45°) so that the top right-hand corner of the paper is higher than the left-hand corner. For left-handed people, the paper should be slightly tilted (30°-45°) so that the top left-hand corner is higher than the right-hand corner. This way, the hand will not touch the writing.
Left – Handed:
Right – Handed:
3) Writing Hand
The hand and arm should be underneath the writing. This is the case for both right and left-handed people. There is no reason a left-handed person should use a ‘hook’ position where the hand is above the writing; if their paper is tilted correctly, and their wrist is straight, there is no need for them to move to the ‘hook’ position.
4) Non-Writing Hand
I am forever correcting children’s non-writing hand. This is the hand they love to rest their head on or fidget with something, but, like the sitting position, this hand plays an important role! It should be placed flat on the piece of paper slightly above where they are writing. It serves to hold the paper steady and keep the body in an upright, stable position.
Finger Gym to Promote Fine Motor Control:
For the little ones, it is all about strengthening their wrists and fingers. Fine motor exercises are perfect for doing this. Here are some fun ideas for fine motor exercises:
- CLOTHES PEGS. How many can you peg around a box in a minute? Who can peg more?
- BEADS. How many small beads can you pick up in a minute with tweezers? Can you thread beads onto a string?
- PASTA. Have mixtures such as dried pasta and peas. Can you separate the mixture using only tweezers?
- SCISSORS. Any cutting activity is helping to strengthen their wrists. Just ensure children have the correct scissor grip at all times.
- PLAYDOUGH. Encourage children to pull, squeeze, roll, and twist it. Can they prick out designs using toothpicks in the dough?
- BUBBLE WRAP. How many bubble wrap bubbles can they pop?
- PAPER CLIPS. How many paper clips can you join together?
- HOLE PUNCH. Hole punch round a piece of card. Can you thread wool through these?
- ZIPS AND BUTTONS. However frustrating, give your child a chance to practisedoing their own zips and buttons up!
- CARDS AND COUNTERS. Play board games requiring children to turn over cards/counters BUT they cannot slide them to the edge of the table to do so.
- STENCILS. Trace round stencils.
- TUPPERWARE. Can your child sort out the Tupperware box, putting the right lids onto the right containers?
- UPRIGHT SURFACES. These promote fine motor skills. For example, painting on easels and writing on chalk boards and whiteboards.
How is Handwriting Taught at School?
Most schools group together letters into families of letters. It is easiest to concentrate on each ‘family’ of letters at one time. Ensure children are forming each letter correctly before moving onto the next one. Pay particular attention to any left-handed children who may write in a clock-wise direction when it should be anti-clockwise.
Curly Caterpillar Letters: a, c, d, e, f, g, o, q, s
Long Ladder Letters: I, j, l, t, u, y
One-Armed Robot Letters: b, h, k, m ,n , p, r
Zig-Zag Monster Letters: v, w, x, z
Fun Handwriting Exercises for those Learning to Write:
If your child is getting to grips with the shape of each letter and the movements needed to form it, these ideas might help. If your child is working at this level, they do not need to practise their handwriting in pencil and on paper. Instead, you can write the letters big by:
- Using chalks outside.
- Drawing them in the air with a finger – some children find it helpful to chant instructions when they do this such as ‘up down and round.’
- Filling an empty washing up liquid bottle with water and squirt the letters on the ground.
- Painting the letters.
- Writing them in fat felt-tip markers on coloured paper.
- Drawing them in sand.
- Drawing them in a tray of shaving foam!