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Does your child struggle with bad writing? Are you worried about your child getting stuck with this messy handwriting forever? Are you in search of actionable tips to improve your child’s handwriting?
Then you’re at the right place! Here through this article, we’ll talk about the importance of good handwriting, reasons for poor handwriting, and ways to fix bad handwriting in kids.
And before we begin, here is a note for all the parents out there. Writing is a fine motor skill, a skill your child masters once he learns to use smaller muscles in his hands. It is a complex task that requires coordination, focus, and precision. So, it is unfair to expect perfection from your child right from the start.
So instead of fretting over your child’s handwriting, be aware of the handwriting milestones your child should attain at different ages and guide him accordingly.
Let’s get to some basics before we zero in on ways to improve your child’s handwriting skills.
Why Is Good Handwriting Important?
With mobiles, tablets, and laptops becoming increasingly popular, it is quite natural to think if handwriting is still worth it. The boom in digital education with the advent of the pandemic is yet another reason to feel the same. Recent studies have shown that the new study habits have adversely affected the handwriting skills of children. So, it is unwise to neglect your child’s handwriting.
Handwriting aids your child to master hand-eye-brain coordination. It fine-tunes your child’s fine and gross motor skills. It also helps them think, form ideas cohesively, and memorise things they learn. Skipping on this important skill and depending on digital devices to make them learn writing can rob your child of holistic development.
Why Does Your Child Have Poor Handwriting?
It is important to know the reasons why your child is having poor handwriting to help him fix it. Even though it is unfair to expect perfect strokes of writing, highly illegible handwriting definitely needs some attention.
A child can have poor handwriting if he has trouble finding the right grasp, right posture, the proper way of forming letters, the correct size of letters, and right spacing. Sometimes, even the pencil your child uses can affect his handwriting. As parents, it is essential to identify your child’s weak areas to work on them.
7 Actionable Ways to Improve Your Child’s Handwriting
Now that you’re all geared up to bring that desired change in your kid’s handwriting, here are some ways to do it:
Have some patience because Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your child is young and he’s trying out something challenging. If he shows a dislike for writing, don’t consider it his laziness. Instead, make him understand why handwriting matters and show him your support by practicing with him.
Encourage your kid by cheering up for his little wins. Compliment him when he makes the right strokes, forms letters properly, or holds the pencil the right way. A healthy encouraging environment can bring wonders to your child.
Schedule a writing time and always encourage your kid to write during this time. When he starts writing at the same time every day, he’ll slowly get used to writing. And since more practice means more perfection, he’ll slowly develop the handwriting you wish your child had in the first place!
Make your child practice any other fine motor activity regularly before he writes. These activities enhance the fine motor skills of your child and prepare him to write better. Stringing beads, playing with building blocks, making shapes out of playdough or chapati dough, and folding clothes or papers are some of the activities that can be included.
Include some shoulder exercises during the scheduled writing time to strengthen the shoulder muscles of your kid. It also hones his gross motor skills. Practicing these exercises is a great way to make the learning process interesting and effective.
Some of the shoulder exercises you can make your child do include wall pushups, leopard crawls, hand pushups, and chair pushups. It is always best to demonstrate it to them to avoid any cases of ineffective positioning. You can also make your child watch videos of these exercises on the web and ask him to imitate if you’re unfit to do it along with them.
Kids learn best when they don’t realize that they’re learning. There’s no compulsion to begin your kid’s writing journey with a pencil and paper. If your child is between the age of 3 and 4, then start their writing journey with crayons. Once they get used to crayons, gradually shift to pencils. The vibrant colours of crayons attract kids and hence they’ll be more enthusiastic to practice writing.
Tracing letters on sand or air, writing with shaving cream, painting letters with hands are some other ways to make the whole activity more interesting. This way, children use all of their senses to comprehend what they are learning. Thus, they learn quickly and retain more.
Fixing and following a writing time is great. But what if your child is restless and disinterested? Forcing him isn’t an option as it would make him hate writing forever. In such cases, give your child a reason to write. Make him write grocery lists, to-do lists, or birthday letters. Make him aware that he is doing a favour for you and thank him for it.
Teaching the proper way to hold a pencil is crucial to improve your child’s penmanship. By the age of three, he should be able to hold the pencil with his thumb, index, and middle finger. This grasp is called static tripod grasp as the child controls his hand movements from his wrist and elbows.
From the age of 4, he will start developing the dynamic tripod grasp which is a modified form of static tripod grasp. In this grasp, the hand movements will be controlled by the fingers and not by the wrist and elbows. Dynamic tripod grasp is regarded as the most matured grasp as it offers more control and more speed with the least muscle effort.
Tripod grip crayons are great to encourage your kid to practice the right grasp from an early age. Shifting to pencils will be much easier once your kid learns the right grasp. Always make sure to use a particular brand of writing equipment when your child is starting to write. Changing brands often can cause him finger cramps and other discomforts. It can also result in inconsistent handwriting as the quality of pencils differs with brands.
Provide your child with a table, a chair, proper lighting, and encourage him to sit erect. The place and the way your child sits influence his handwriting. Discourage writing in beds, bean bags, and couches right from the start.
Start with tracing books and worksheets instead of overwhelming your kid with alphabets. Teach him to trace lines and dot-to-dots to help him master hand-eye coordination. Once he learns to draw straight lines, sleeping lines, and diagonal lines, slowly introduce him to four-lined alphabet tracing worksheets and books.
The directionality of letters is important. Give him extra practice in writing similar letters like ‘M and W’, ‘b and d’ and ‘I(capital I) and l(small L)’. Also ensure if his ‘bs’,’ ds’,’ gs’, and ‘fs’ are in the right direction, dots of small ‘I’ proper and ‘O and C’ are distinguishable.
There isn’t a proper age to know your child’s hand dominance. Some show it at an early age while others take as long as 6 years to figure out their dominant hand. As parents, the best thing you can do if your child is a lefty is to not force them to be a righty!
If your child is left-handed then always keep the left edge of his writing paper higher than the right one. This ensures a proper wrist position and makes the writing easier. Start his writing journey with left-friendly books and worksheets. You can find plenty of them online.
It is important to know that left-handed pencil grips and strokes are different from normal right-handed ones. If you notice your child forming letters like A, F, and J from right to left, then know that these kinds of cross strokes are normal.
What’s the most effective way to improve a child’s handwriting? It is practice. The more he practices, the better his handwriting. Make writing a part of your child’s daily routine. If your child is between the age of 3 and 4, always encourage him to scribble and draw.
If he’s familiar with letters and small words, exchange small notes with your child or encourage him to copy down snippets that interest them. Instead of focusing on the number of hours your child spends writing, focus on how you can effectively teach them.
Enrolling in a preschool is another great way to ensure your child practices handwriting. Pre-school teachers are professionally trained to aid your child in developing good handwriting. Preschool activities fine-tune your child’s fine motor skills and helps him ace his handwriting skills.
While there’s no doubt about the effectiveness of these tips, the ultimate result always depends upon your attitude towards your child. Patience, practice, and encouragement are indeed the magic words in this case. So provide your child the right environment to flourish and watch him grow!