Handwriting is a skill that will be carried with a child from the start of schooling right through to adulthood. However, motivating a child to practice their writing, to develop correct letter formation, size and spacing can be challenging. Here are ten easy ways to freshen up handwriting practice so children don’t feel like they are ‘writing lines’, as would have been the way in years gone by.
Change up the writing tool. As wonderful as it is to start with the classic led pencil, that you can erase, it’s grey and boring! Try using chubby chalk on the pavement, a multicolour pencil, ten colour pen, or magic markers that change colour . Making writing practice colourful increases the fun factor!2. Do away with writing implements and write with your fingers. Finger strength is required for endurance and precision with handwriting, particularly the thumb and index finger. What a crazy idea, but it’s just as fun to change the medium we write in. A tray of salt, a shower screen covered in shaving foam, a steamed-up shower screen are all blank canvases that can mix up how we practice spelling words or letter formation practice. Using the dominant index finger to trace out letters and words is great for developing finger isolation, and the strength to manipulate a pencil/ pen.3. Change the writing angle. Developing shoulder stability and strength is key for handwriting endurance. Writing on vertical surfaces like an easel, or taping paper to a window mixes it up for children. You can also tape paper to the underside of a chair and have the child lay under the chair and write laying down reaching up to the paper to build shoulder strength.
Story dice/ story box. Sometimes even motivating a child to write anything can be hard, so story dice/ story box can help to spark an idea for a silly story line. You can then set the challenge of the length of the piece of writing based in the child’s ability.
Story starter. The Scholastic website (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/)has a fantastic pokie machine style story starter that is super fun for the child to activate to create a theme and style to write in. The prompts generate some different ideas and ways to write, keeping it interesting for the writer and the reader.
Play-dough letters. To develop an understanding of letter shapes and formation is one of the key elements of handwriting. Rolling out play dough to form capital and lowercase letters is a great way for children to understand each letter’s shape. Tracing over the letters with their index finger, also reinforces finger isolation and helps the child to remember the correct starting point and letter formation sequence.
Write a letter to a special friend or parent. Writing short notes or longer letters (depending on the age and abilities of the child) is a fun way to involve handwriting. You could start off with writing a little note or joke and putting it in your child’s lunch box, and encourage them to leave you a little note under your pillow to find later. You may even want to have a special note book to send back and forth between you, to keep your notes safe in. Writing letters to friends, or helping to write out birthday cards is also a variation of letter writing.
Be an undercover detective. Set a theme for your child to write down all the things they see in their environment that start with a particular letter, or are a particular colour, or used for a specific purpose. Giving them a role to be a detective to look closely to find items that fit the theme, and write them down on a clip board makes handwriting in this instance more of a game.Alternatively, detectives and spy’s often use a decoder to write out code messages. You can write out a coded message for your child and have them use the decoder to write out the actual message.
Use a handwriting stylus when using apps like: Writing wizard for kids. This app has the Victorian pre-cursive font that are used in the majority of Victorian schools as well as 8 other hand writing fonts commonly taught. The App pencil (edugrip.com.au) is a handwriting stylus to use with a tablet, which has a triangular shaped grip to facilitate correct finger placement for dynamic tripod pencil grip. Instead of using isolated index finger to draw letters, the App Pencil allows practicing of perfect pencil grip while using a table device.
Hopefully some of the above suggestions will motivate your child to become more engaged in handwriting at home.
If you have any concerns about your child’s handwriting, letter formation, or endurance for handwriting, please get in touch with us at Building Blocks Therapy for an individual consultation.