Handwriting Tips to Help Improve Children's Writing Skills

When it comes to learning, most things don't come naturally. Figuring out how to swim or ride a bike takes practice, and that's true for learning to write too. But, some children struggle more than others. If you're assisting a child who seems to be finding handwriting a particularly tricky skill to master, here are some tips to help them improve.

1. Spend some time assessing what the difficulty might be

First assess what the main area of concern is. For instance, is your concern relating to:

. legibility?
. neatness?
. comfort?
. pressure?
. speed?
. motivation and enjoyment?

It's a good idea to identify your main area or areas for concern, as this will help you to set a target to aim for, and will focus your efforts when you're helping a child to improve their handwriting skills.

2. Equip them with suitable tools

Writing tools need to be suitable for a child's age and ability. So, you'll need to do a bit of a trial and error to figure out what's most comfortable for your child - does a thinner pen or a thicker pen help them to write more skilfully? Is their notepad the right size, or is it too big or to small? Stock up on stationery from a good retailer (such as this one here) and experiment until you find the right combination for your child. Or, read the guidance and instructions on each piece of stationery if you're considering buying equipment that has been specially designed for a certain age or skill level.

3. Make them comfortable

Children will produce their best handwriting if they're sitting comfortably. So, while it might be tempting to let them practice their writing while they're lying on their stomachs in the living room (for instance), ask them to sit up at a table. It will feel more 'formal' so you might have to work harder to make it feel like fun, but good light, an upright chair, a comfortable height and a straight back will make their handwriting much better. You also need to make sure that your child's head is high enough to see the pen or pencil forming the letters they're writing.

4. Rule out the possibility of special educational needs

There's no need to be alarmed if your child struggles with handwriting, but it is worth questioning whether or not they might have a particular special educational need that must be accounted for in order to improve. Some learning difficulties feature characteristics such as delayed fine motor skills, and this can make handwriting very challenging indeed.

For instance, children with Asperger's Syndrome are often to have serious difficulty writing. In this article, the National Handwriting Association reports that one child's impairment meant that "…in his tense fist, the pencil could not run smoothly. A whole page would suddenly become covered with big swirls, the exercise book would be covered full of holes, if not torn up". Talk to your GP if you think your child might have a special educational need, but do try not to leap to conclusions or diagnose your child yourself.

These are just a few ideas to help you assist your child with their handwriting skills, which will change throughout their lives. Bear in mind that good handwriting can be important as ultimately it helps to make children's work and ideas legible, but it's not the most important thing in the world. Remove the pressure from it by making handwriting a part of your daily family life by leaving notes for each other in the house, making lists and labels and writing cards for loved one's birthdays, and seek professional support if you think your child has a learning difficulty.

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