10 steps to better handwriting
By practising writing in everyday life, children are consolidating the learning which takes place in school, and laying down the foundations upon which their writing skills for life will be based. So how can you support their learning at home?
1. Establish a special writing space
Create an atmosphere for writing – somewhere quiet and light with a good supporting surface. Equipment to have on hand includes pens and pencils, a pencil sharpener, paper, envelopes, a stapler, a hole punch, a dictionary and a thesaurus. Your child's mood is important, too, so make sure they are not too tired or stressed.
2. Make writing relevant
Talk to your child about the role of writing in everyday life. Not only is it needed to pass exams, write essays and so forth, but it's essential if you want to take part in a chat forum, email friends or even send text messages. Talk about the importance of writing through their favourite books or magazines and when looking at websites or TV programmes.
3. Give your child a reason to write
Discuss some of the underlying reasons we write. What about communicating our feelings, giving information and writing for pleasure or self expression? What are the things we know today that would have been lost had they not been written down?
4. (Hand)write every day
Writing shopping and to do lists, filling in forms, writing birthday cards, reminder notes, postcards, emails and invitations – all are everyday tasks that you can get your child to do, or help with.
5. Take a message
Ask your child to take messages for you – and write them down – when you are too busy to come to the phone.
6. Find a penpal
Establishing pen friendships is a great way to get children to write about things that interest them. Children often feel excited about getting their own letters in the post, too (who doesn't?).
7. Talk before putting pen to paper
If your child ever gets stuck on writing homework, get them to stop for a while and to talk through what it is they have been asked to do. What can you use to inspire your child? A personal experience, current affairs or a storyline from a favourite television programme are all great starting points for a piece of writing.
8. Make practice fun
Help your child to practise writing by getting them to describe a personal interest. Tell them that you have trouble understanding the rules in a game of football or can't work out why they are so interested in ballet – ask them to explain it to you in writing.
9. Consider written requests
As a variation of the tip above, the next time your son or daughter makes a request for something, say a new pair of trainers or to go out with a friend, why not ask them to put it in writing?
10. Keep a diary
Is something bothering your child? Perhaps writing it down would help get it off their mind. A secret diary with a lock and key to keep curious siblings (and mums!) out is a great idea for girls. Just don't let yourself be tempted to peek at the great handwriting inside!
For a more structured approach to at-home handwriting practice look through our selection of handwriting worksheets.