Handwriting and learning go hand in hand. However, in this day and age of computers, laptops, and mobile devices, handwriting at times is put on the back burner. In the early stages of education, handwriting is known to improve reading fluency and academics as a whole. Here are 7 strategies for teaching and improving handwriting skills at home.
1. Short and Sweet Strategies for Teaching Handwriting
When teaching handwriting, keep the lesson simple by starting with individual letters. First, begin with capital letters because straight lines are easier to write than curvy letters. While you are teaching the physical aspect of handwriting, utilize verbal cues and prompts. Talk about what you are doing and writing as you model the formation of the letters. This type of handwriting strategy allows children to not only write and see the letters but hear the sounds as well.
Start by teaching your child how to write their name. Although there may be easier words to write, their name is something they will write again and again! Plus, children get really excited when they see their name on paper. I am all about making real-life connections to what kids learn, so what’s better than starting with their name?
2. Take it From the Top
Your children will find more success with handwriting when they start their letters from the top versus the middle or the bottom. Some letters will require them to lift their pencil but encourage them to keep the pencil on the paper as much as possible. When it’s time to lift their pencil, be explicit with when and why they should do this. Also by providing a model for your child, it will give them a visual of how to write the letter before attempting it themselves. Keep it consistent when showing your child how to write each letter.
3. Visual Aids: One of the Most Popular Teaching Handwriting Strategies
Another handwriting strategy is to utilize visual aids. First, implement lined paper to provide a visual of where your child is writing their letters and words. We’ve often heard the phrase, “keep it in between the lines”. This strategy would benefit by helping them focus their attention on what they are writing and where their words and letters appear on the paper. In addition to this handwriting strategy, use dots for starting points. A connect the dots activity and tracing can be fun as well as engaging.
4. Use Props When Teaching Handwriting
For right-handers, the index finger is an excellent prop to help with spacing. Encourage your children to use their index finger after each word prior to starting the next word. This handwriting strategy technique is called finger spacing. For left-handed writers, this technique is not as effective. A prop that mimics the index finger is a popsicle stick. You can even decorate the popsicle sticks to keep your kids engaged in the lesson. Right-handers can use the popsicle sticks too if they prefer that handwriting strategy instead of using their index finger.
5. Use a Variety of Writing Utensils
Mix up the writing utensil to help kids adjust the pressure they put on their writing tool. Markers, crayons, a stylus for tablets, pens, and expo markers are all different options that your children can use when practicing their handwriting. Try different colors to make this even more fun for your kids! You can also have your child write out the letters in different “fonts”, bubble letters, or dots. Using patterns can be fun and a great review once they’ve mastered the shapes of their letters.
This particular handwriting strategy will help them prepare for the different objects they will use when they write. It will also help them get them used to how different writing tools feel. This strategy will also help them with their pacing while they write.
Consider downloading my handwriting practice strips to assist your child in writing. What’s great about these is that they can be printed and cut into strips then laminated so your child can practice with a dry or wet erase marker.
6. Handwriting Strategies to Combat B and D Confusion
When kids are learning how to write, they may struggle with certain letters such as “b” and “d”. These are reversal letters and children may get confused with which way to write them. A good handwriting strategy is to have them make a connection to other letters. For example, associate the letter “b” with “k” since they both face the same direction. Do the same thing with “d” and “g”, the bubble part of the letters face the same way. Provide cognitive tips to help with lowercase and uppercase letters. For example, lowercase “b” turns into uppercase “B” by adding a bubble on top. Another example is to use a mnemonic device such as a singsong rhyme to help kids remember letters. For example: “c” comes before “d” so add a line and your “c” becomes “d”.
7. Try a Handwriting Strategy Known as Skywriting
It’s important for your child to gain the muscle memory of what it feels like to write letters. Have your kids write letters in the air; this handwriting strategy is called “skywriting”. By tracing letters with their fingers it provides that hands-on, tactile technique of learning and recalling how to write the letters. An added bonus would be to have them say the letters and words as they write them in the air.
These handwriting strategies will help your child learn how to form letters, develop muscle memory, and even practice pencil grasps! Don’t forget to grab a copy of my handwriting letter strips to help your child practice their letters. Simply download the free handwriting printable, laminate and your child can use it over and over again!