When children begin to write, many of them struggle to write neatly and legibly. By the time they are six, however, your child should be a more confident writer. However, if your child’s teacher and you are both struggling with understanding his/her handwriting, or if your child takes a long time to finish written work, you might want to spend some time helping your child over this hurdle.
Here are 5 tips you can try to help improve your child’s handwriting and writing speed:
- Practice, practice, practice. Your child will probably groan and make a run for it when he/she hears you call them to practice their handwriting, so make practice fun. There is no escaping the need for practice but try letting the child come up with the words they need to practice writing on their own. Or instead of using a boring old handwriting workbook, have your child write a letter to someone, make a list of things they like to eat, make a list of the most dangerous dinosaurs, etc. Practice is important but it does not have to be boring.
- Start with fine motor exercises. Before your child begins to write, start him/her off with some fine motor exercises or games. Have him/her open and shut clothes clips with his/her thumb and forefinger, pass some beads onto a string, make tiny balls out of play-dough or clay with his/her fingers. These strengthen the muscles needed to hold the pencil correctly and apply the right amount of pressure.
- Use the correct tools. If your child has trouble holding the pencil, try giving your child a fatter pencil or use a pencil grip. You can buy the necessary grips online. It will allow your child to hold the pencil more comfortably and will make writing a little easier.
- Write everywhere. Who said writing has to be done only in a book. Encourage your child to sign for the next courier, write in the sand in the playground, and write on a foggy window or on your dusty car. Often children with poor handwriting simply find writing boring and do not put in the effort needed. If you separate writing from academics, your child might begin to take pleasure in the work itself.
- Positive reinforcement. Praise your child every time he/she produces a decent piece of written work. Ignore the bad quality work. Make your child want to strive for your praise and attention. Also, remember to lower your expectations. If you adjust your expectations, your child is more likely to achieve those expectations and feel accomplished. This motivates them to practice harder.
Once your child enters primary school he/she will have a lot of writing to do in all subjects. Handwriting is something that does not improve overnight. It is a combination of practice and motivation. Help your child develops a healthy attitude towards writing and practice.