Developing Children's Handwriting: Strategies and Activities
© Beverley Paine
[an excerpt from Developing Children's Handwriting, a Practical Homeschooling Booklet, by Beverley Paine, available from Always Learning Books.]
There are several ways in which you can help your children develop their handwriting skills. The following are a selection to help you begin thinking about the processes involved. There is never any ‘right’ way of learning. The more strategies you develop to help your children learn the more successful they will be.
Present your young children with as many opportunities for tracing, either with their fingers, arms, pointing sticks, writing utensils, etc. They can trace shapes, pictures, letters, numbers, symbols, straight or curved lines, etc. As children get older and more skilled at writing find more complicated and sophisticated tracing activities, such as maps or mandalas.
You and the child vocalise the movement of the hand, direction, starting place, etc. when writing or scribing, e.g.
Using this type of language has the added bonus of developing spatial mathematical
understanding. You can also use imaginative language - often how you verbally
illustrate the physical processes involved in handwriting will depend on the
Encourage your children to discuss and experiment with the feeling and sensation of movement and position when writing, e.g.:
Using all of the senses to learn handwriting skills will promote successful outcomes for all children. Concentrating on visual learning works for some children better than others, but all benefit from using methods which encourage using all senses.
Children discuss the shape and orientation of letters, and discuss similarities and differences discovered, e.g.:
Make a ‘handwriting file’ for each of your children and keep it with writing utensils and different writing media (different colours and grades of paper, card, etc.). You can direct each child to use the file as the need arises, for practice in specific handwriting skills. The file could contain:
Children experiment with different surfaces for writing, e.g.:
Children experiment with different handwriting implements, e.g.:
Children experiment with different handwriting positions, e.g.:
Children note aspects of handwriting they find particularly difficult and devise their own practice activities and opportunities. This could involve practice worksheets, incorporating words, individual letters, combinations of certain letters, etc. or providing opportunities to practice handwriting in real tasks or playful tasks. Children can be encouraged to concentrate of starting places, sizes and directions, etc. according to purpose and proposed audience.
Children discuss, and perhaps list, occasions when neatness and presentation are of prime importance. Your children can use this list to make a personal chart for their handwriting file for future reference.
Children make autograph books and collect samples of other people’s handwriting. You could discuss how handwriting styles have changed historically, and compare the different styles taught in schools this century.
Children can make alphabet books using different handwriting styles, or practice calligraphy. You could print various fonts from the computer and let the children practice copying them. Children can add these styles to their charts and suggest and record appropriate times to use them.
Children can research in various ways handwriting styles and alphabets of other countries and cultures. They can also research the origins of these, and our own, alphabet and writing styles.
You can encourage your children to create their own alphabet or code, demonstrating others that have been used in the past or in literature.
You can provide appropriate models of handwriting styles, presentation, format, etc. according to the purpose and audience of the writing, e.g.:
Encourage your children to proof-read and edit their writing, and ask them to consider the audience and purpose of their writing, especially in relation to:
Encourage your children to explore and experiment with the social aspects of handwriting, e.g.:
Encourage your children to experiment with different handwriting movements and discuss the effects of the different movements on speed, legibility, handwriting style, etc. Children can practice, e.g.:
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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