Supporting Handwriting Development

These notes are from a series of workshops from our school – this particular series was on supporting your children’s handwriting development. There are some annotations and additional resources which I have added.

Supporting Emerging Writers

  • Be a writing role model – If they see you write for a purpose, watch the process, listen to you talk about the writing process, they will be inspired to write too. Have writing implements available all over the home to catch them when they’re inspired!
  • Writing for a purpose – Provide a reason for your child to write – shopping lists, labelling, sending postcards/invitations, replying to notes from fairies/superheroes, writing secret notes, etc.
  • Fine motor development – Before a child can mark make, they need sufficient fine motor skills to be able to do so with increasing control and skill, even at the earliest level. 
  • Talk! – Talk before, during and after your child is writing. Encourage them to begin to make marks with a previously thought out purpose. Prompt them as they write. Ask them to talk about their mark making in as much detail as possible, modelling and extending when possible. Before children can be writers, they need to be talkers! A language rich environment is crucial. Verbal storytelling, recounting the funniest part of their day..make time to talk.
  • Value every mark your child makes – We need to foster a love of writing/mark making at the earliest ages. Value, praise, display and take time to hear about your child’s emergent writing.

Fine Motor Development: 

When we talk of building fine motor skills, there is often mention of activities like playing with play doh, stacking building blocks, and cutting with scissors. Two activities that are particularly good for strengthening the fingers are:

  • Playing the piano requires considerable fine motor dexterity because each individual finger is required to strike a note with precision and control in order to play the music accurately.
  • Playing LEGO also requires significant fine motor strength to compress pieces together to form a firm lock between the blocks.

Supporting Handwriting Development: Why teach cursive handwriting?

handwriting practice - cursive

  • By making each letter in one movement, children’s hands develop a ‘physical memory’ of it, making it easier to produce the correct shape.
  • Because letters and words flow from left to right, children are less likely to reverse letters which are typically difficult (like b/d or p/q).
  • There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower-case letters.
  • The continuous flow of writing ultimately improves speed and spelling ability.
  • Provides a tool that allows children to put thoughts on paper quickly and easily.
  • Reduces erratic spaces between letters and words.
  • Improves reading skills.
  • It’s easier to go straight to cursive rather than teaching handwriting twice – printing, then relearning cursive.

More about teaching cursive handwriting in the 21st Century.

Ways to help with cursive handwriting at home

  • If your child is beginning to learn cursive, try the multi-sensory approach, for example;  tracing the letters  in the air using magic ink, in sand with a stick or on another person’s back with their finger. You could also try chalks on the patio or shaving foam on a tray. Another one that G2 likes to do is writing with “bubble soap” on the shower screen.
  • Play Boggle and write the words using Cursive writing
  • Practise spellings using Cursive writing. It helps to learn spelling patterns when children learn them joined up. Make writing fun and positive.

Cursive Writing Resources:

These are from Sparkle Box:

Cursive Handwriting practice sparkle box

Cursive Handwriting - Sparkle BoxCursive Handwriting - Sparkle Box

Make your own handwriting worksheets.

Recommended Apps for Handwriting

Cursive Writing Wizard

Features:

  • Trace using 26 animated stickers and sound effects
  • Once tracing is complete, your child can interact with them on 4 games that animate letters
  • Trace any word, like your child’s name – the app is customisable
  • Your child can collect stars in 5-Stars play mode
  • Detailed reports provide you with information on what your child has done, including the ability to replay and export the tracings to view your child’s progress
  • You can create your own word lists (and record audio for each word)
  • Multiple parameters allow you to customise the app according to each of your children’s current education level (e.g. letter size, difficulty, show/hide model, allow to stop between key points, etc.)
  • Comes with 2 popular US fonts (ZB & DN) and 1 french font
  • Teaches upper and lower case letters, numbers, and word lists
  • Plays letter sounds which can be customised
  • Allows for unlimited users

Crazy Cursive Letters

Features:

  • Choice of cursive style letter e.g. a choice of style of the letter r.
  • Personalised feedback to tell your children which letters they are totally awesome at and which letters they could focus on practising.
  • Allows practice of single letters in cursive style.
  • The 100 most frequent words to try in cursive style.
  • Multiple Players allows you to the progress of siblings or even a class of up to 10 players.
  • ‘My Words’ section allows to you to include words for spelling practice.
  • A phonics based approach to support the writing practice.
  • Left / right handed adaptation
  • You can also use Crazy Cursive to help learn a new language! Select from American English, UK English, French, German, Italian or Spanish words and phonics.

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