For parents teaching their children at home and supplementing the teaching that is done at school, there are many fun and straightforward ways to engage your child with handwriting. Here are some ideas:
Use resources around the house to engage your child in practising handwriting. It’s important always to demonstrate the letters first so that the child can see how to form each one correctly:
- Use a highlighter to mark a shaded area sitting on each line of lined paper to provide guidance on where to place letters and their appropriate size. NHA have a free printable line guide to help with this.
- For younger children, create a sand or salt tray and encourage them to make marks and letter shapes as an interactive and fun way to learn writing skills.
Writing Wizard is an app to help with handwriting. The child traces the shapes of letters on the screen of a phone or tablet. Parents can generate word lists. They can also download worksheets that have directional cues and different styles.
Use Zoom to share a whiteboard and play an adapted version of noughts and crosses – instead of using o and x, use the letters or numbers you are teaching at the time, or use digraphs to work on teaching joining patterns.
Help your child to plan written tasks before they start. Some learners have difficulties with the process of writing and letter formation alongside challenges in structuring written tasks. Encourage your child to use a spider diagram to capture their thoughts as they occur and then plan how to order these ideas before they start writing.
Incorporate handwriting into everyday learning, especially if your child is spending considerable time on online learning. School assessments are largely determined by extended written tasks and by the time students reach secondary school they are expected to have developed resilience to write for significant periods of time (up to 4 hours by the time of GCSEs). Undertaking regular written tasks will support your child in increasing writing stamina.
To increase handwriting speed, see how many 3-letter words the child can write in a minute (dictate words such as cat, dog, pig, she, mum, dad). Practice daily a minute a day. Record the total and then set an increased target for a week later – for example if a 7 year old writes 15 letters (5 words), aim for 21 letters (7 words) the following week.
First Learning: Early Writing, 3+, by Amanda McLeod, published by Scholastic. Covers patterning and alphabet (lower and upper case).
First Learning: Early Handwriting, 4+, by Amanda McLeod, published by Scholastic. Covers patterning review of lower case, alternative forms and joins.
Bic mechanical pencil. The ridge along the top makes it clear to children not to thumb wrap over the top.