Handwriting Practice: Back to Basics – Correcting Bad Habits

Aristotle has been writing letters and numbers for a while but because practicing writing is so tedious, he hates to do it and his handwriting is atrocious. Figuring that he just needed more practice (and incentives to practice), I got him an exercise book to practice writing letters. It wasn’t until I peeked over his shoulder that I realised that it wasn’t just practice that he needed. Somewhere along the way, he’d picked up some terrible writing habits.

Firstly, his grip on the pencil is wrong – he uses all five fingers to hold the pencil (if you can imagine it). Not matter how much I correct it, the moment I’m not looking, he slips back to his familiar pencil grip. Secondly, the way he writes his letters are wrong. For instance, when writing the lowercase letter “d”, instead of starting with the bump as if he is writing the letter “c”, he starts with the vertical stroke. He completes the “d” by continuing with a reverse “c” without lifting the pencil off the paper. I’ve sat with him and taught him the correct way to write the letters over and over, but when I stop watching, he switches back and insists on writing the letters his way.

Since I can’t be watching his every stroke, I figured the best thing to do would be to break the habit and get him used to writing the strokes properly using an app on the iPad that will not allow you to write the letters any other way. We have an app called “iWriteWords” which is great for this very purpose, unfortunately, I have no way of monitoring his progress unless I watch him do it. I can’t tell if he cheats and skips letters either. So I started searching for another app that enforces correct writing strokes and records progress (like the Splash Math app) and found “BrightStart Pre-K ABC“.

Like “iWriteWords”, “BrightStart Pre-K ABC” ensures that children write the letters using the correct strokes in the correct order. If your child tries to write out of order, the app stops him and he has to write the letter all over again. There is also a report card that tells you how much your child has been practicing and how well he is progressing.

Watch the video: Let’s learn the alphabet.

The down side with using the iPad (or iPhone) for practicing handwriting is that it doesn’t teach you to hold a pencil – well, unless you get one of these…

Ten One Design – Pogo Sketch

Watch the video: Pogo Sketch Stylus Review

It’s basically a stylus for touchscreen devices like the iPad and iPhone so if you want to make writing practice as close as possible to the real thing, I guess this would do it. For now, I’ll settle for taking baby steps – correct Aristotle’s handwriting strokes first then work on his pencil grip.

Read more about Bright Start Pre-K ABC.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Handwriting Practice: Back to Basics – Correcting Bad Habits

  1. Dearest Shen-Li
    first of all HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU & family
    Secondly, the link to Pre-K ABC no longer exists, this error message comes up: Not Found, Error 404
    The page you are looking for no longer exists. Perhaps you can return back to the site’s homepage and see if you can find what you are looking for. Or, you can try finding it with the information below.

    I cannot find it in i-tunes with that name, so really grateful if you could see to the error message following your link. THANKS IN ADVANCE! Love, Isa


  2. Shen Li,

    My daughter montessori school use ” pin pricking method” to develop princer grip and develop correct pencil grip. She did a lot of pricking when she was 2.5 years old to 3 years old. See the pin pricking acitvity.

    For younger kids 2.5 years old, you can give them big pin (giant tumbtack) and ask them to prick randomly on the paper.


    After the child master this activity then draw a line or shape on the paper and ask the child to prick on the line. For further challenge, change it to a small pin and ask the child to prick on the line closer. They love this activity but need monitoring. After various exercise on this activity the child automatically will have correct pencil grip.

    Pei Lin


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