As regular readers know, my son is 7 and started in Year Three in September. He’s a reluctant reader and writer and like me, is left-handed. It’s often felt like a battle of wills to get him to write anything, but slowly, slowly we are getting there. I think it’s so important to spend time encouraging children with their handwriting, and have looked at a number of ways to make it more fun over the last few years.
We may live in an age where children are ever more computer literate and are super speedy on the keyboard, but I still believe that learning to write properly can only help my son in the long run. Back in Reception, when getting my son to write anything was a challenge, my friend bough him a lined white board with markers to help encourage him. It was a great idea, but for a left-handed writer, it wasn’t successful. Bless him, he’d smudge whatever he’d written as he went across the board. So for us, that idea didn’t work, but for right-handed kids, this would be a great idea. Something we did try though was handwriting sheets, and even in Year Two we continued to use them.
Being left-handed myself, I was acutely aware of the importance of correctly placed fingers when holding a pencil or pen. I’m really lucky that my son’s finger grip has always been excellent, but we used colouring pencils with finger grips from very early on anyway. I’ve also always encouraged my son to sit at the kitchen table to write, rather than on the floor which again helps to improve handwriting. That’s also meant as times gone on, that my son knows, without question, that homework is completed at the table, not on the floor in front on the tv.
Encouraging children with their handwriting can sometimes be a real struggle, especially when they’d much rather be doing anything else! Perseverance is required, and you need to make it fun as much as you can. Making lists and creating his own little stories has really helped my son and his writing. There is such a push in schools these days for children to use cursive handwriting from a very young age. I found it a real struggle with my son. He’d really barely grasped letter formation at all before we were being told that they were now expected to join their letters up. Again this is where handwriting worksheets can be invaluable. All through Year Two it become part of my son’s daily routine to complete a worksheet at home to try to help him with his cursive writing and to build up his speed.
I don’t think my son is ever going to enjoy writing in the same way I did as a child, but it won’t stop me encouraging him to try to improve his handwriting in the years to come. I’ve certainly seen an improvement and when he want’s to, he can create some lovely little stories now. I’ve also seen that he saves his best hand writing for school. So the practice is paying off.
How about you? What are your experiences with encouraging children with their handwriting? Any top tips you can share?
disclosure: I am being compensated for this post, but as always my thoughts are my own.