Each and everyone's handwriting styles differ, some children show extraordinary skills while others need a little bit of extra guidance.
If your child is struggling, here are some commonly used strategies recommended to help develop your child's handwriting skills before serious handwriting issues develop.
Here's how you can improve your child's writing skills:
Find out what's challenging them.
Identify the underlying issues your child is struggling with so you can help them. Some of the most common handwriting problems for children include incorrect pencil grip, difficulty in copying words, poor sizing of letters, the spacing of words and poor pencil pressure.
Work those muscles.
Make sure the building blocks for handwriting are solid by strengthening fine motor skills. Increase your child's hand strength and finger dexterity in a variety of ways by encouraging them to spend at least ten minutes a day doing activities such as:
- playing with Play-Doh
- building with Lego
- doing age-appropriate jigsaw puzzles
- practising cutting zig-zag with scissors with adult supervision
- picking up small objects with a kid-friendly tweezers
- squeezing a squishy or stress ball
Use the right tools.
A majority of young children struggle to control a regular sized pencil which can be frustrating. Instead, use a smaller pencil to enhance their ability to control a pencil and help improve proper pencil grip.
Practice makes perfect.
Letters don't have to be artistic nor precise however, they do need to be readable. When practising handwriting at home, give simple instructions on how to form the letter. For example, tell them when they are writing the letter T they start at the top, bringing the line down straight until it meets the page line, then form a line across the top.
Think outside the box.
The opportunities are endless. Make learning fun by using every resource available to get them practising whether it's on a foggy mirror after their bath, with chalk out the back garden, using a stick in mud or by tracing their finger in play sand.
Create a happy work environment.
Children need a positive place to work on their handwriting and should not feel discouraged when they make mistakes. It is important that you make sure they are sitting on a comfortable chair with back support at a table with plenty of natural light.
Look at their tripod grasp.
Observe how your child holds a pencil. To form a solid tripod grasp their thumb should be bent with their index finger pinching the opposite side of the pencil while the middle finger sits on the side. The remaining two fingers should be tucked into the palm of their hand.
Point out their pitfalls.
Using a highlighter, show them where they are making mistakes and how to rectify them. For example, when they are not closing circles and how certain letters don't line up on the page. However, while pointing out their flaws, don't go too hard on them. Boost their confidence and offer positive feedback by applauding letters that are sized correctly while encouraging them to close their loops.
If all else fails, seek help!
If you have tried all of the above and still feel like it's not working or affecting your child's academic performance, seek help from an accredited Occupational Therapist who will be able to explore any underlying issues that might be holding your child back while also recommending simple strategies and activities to do at home to support good handwriting skills.