“It (handwriting) opens our personality out to the world, and gives us a means of reading other people,” says Philip Hensher, in his book, ‘The Missing Ink’. True! Your child’s handwriting reveals her personality to the reader. It also goes a long way in improving her prospects, both in academics as well as in her chosen profession. Above all, your little one’s handwriting is a means for her to create a good impression on others. Here are some tips to help you guide your child to improve her handwriting.
1. The right tool
When your little one is in preschool and early primary school, her fine motor skills wouldn’t be fully developed. Therefore, her finger movements may be a bit clumsy. So, find out what kind of pencil best suits her. The market today provides a wide range of possibilities: three-sided, rubber-gripped, fat, short, crayon-shaped, mechanical and so on. Equally important is a good, large eraser to make mistakes disappear without wearing out the paper.
2. Get a grip
Teach your child the three-fingered tripod grip, where the pencil is gripped using the thumb, the index and the middle finger, and the wrist is held straight. This allows for free movement of the fingers and the hand. The best place to hold the pencil is an inch above the tip. Never let him hold the pencil too tight, as this can hurt his fingers, while spoiling his handwriting.
3. Too much pressure?
Ensure that your little genius doesn’t press down the pencil too hard while writing. This affects the shape of the letters and the smooth flow of writing. Also, her hands will tire sooner. When your child uses the right amount of pressure for writing, there will be no indents or marks on the reverse side of the page. Also, the pencil tips won’t break often.
4. Focussed adjustments
Keep an eye on letter formation, paper control, size of letters, space between words, and line-alignment when teaching your child to write well. Observe her write and understand what she is struggling with. Then, explain what she needs to do in a way that she can understand.
5. Practice makes perfect
Use word puzzles, anagrams, a game of hangman, word-hunt or other such games to make your child practise handwriting. Creative approaches encourage children to try harder rather than just copying words. Good handwriting calls for good motor skills. So, using gardening tools, eating with cutlery, handling mechanical tools, finger-painting, drawing on sand and other such activities will help strengthen your child’s motor skills.
6. Rhythm and slant
The customary four-ruled paper is your child’s best friend, as far as practising handwriting goes. These help her form letters of the right size and shape. Writing on a four-ruled sheet will also help her understand the correct size of capital, lowercase, tall, short and hanging letters. It will also make her transition to cursive writing easier. Occasionally, also allow her to practise on single-ruled and plain paper to show her how far she has improved. Encourage your child to develop a rhythm while writing, as this creates something called muscle memory. This will allow a more fluid motion of the hand while writing.
Reasons for bad handwriting range from laziness to stress. In some rare cases, psychological problems may be the cause. Whatever may be the reason, bad handwriting is as irritating as off-key music. Unfortunately, there’s no genie in a lamp to magically transform your child’s handwriting overnight. Developing a good handwriting is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience. However, in the days to come, both you and your child will realise that it was worth the time and effort put in.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.