How to Improve Handwriting for Kids Under 12
Nothing beats the struggle of reading great content written in poor handwriting.
As a parent, teacher, or guardian, you’ve seen your child struggle with legible writing and wish you could help them improve their skills.
And you know that at their age, there’s not much handwriting practice going on at school because isn’t that taught in kindergarten?
Either way, you understand how crucial neat handwriting is and how it can be a confidence booster for your child.
Your child’s handwriting determines how well they can communicate their thoughts on pen and paper. If they’re struggling with good handwriting, you need to step in and assist them.
Possible Solutions for Kids Under 12 Handwriting Problems
Here are 11 tips to help your child improve their writing process.
Pinpoint Your Child’s Point of Difficulty
Before helping your older child improve their handwriting style, try and understand the cause of their poor skills.
Consider the common handwriting problems below to identify your child’s weak area.
Poor Letter Formation Training
Letter structuring is an essential step in handwriting practice. If your child’s kindergarten teacher did not pay attention to how your child formed their letters, they could be suffering the consequences now.
Incorrect Pencil Grip
Does your child know how to hold their pencil properly when writing on paper?
Your child should be able to position a pen or a pencil between the thumb, index, and middle fingers at their age.
Using Plain Papers
A plain paper has no guide on the alignment of letters or writing in a straight line. If your child has been using them, it’s time to switch to lined papers.
Here’s a summary of the problems and their possible solutions.
Poor letter creation training
Use letter formation worksheets
Poor pencil grip
Use pencil grip enhancers
Use lined papers
Empower Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills
Engage your child in simple activities that will help improve their hands’ strength and the agility of their fingers.
You can encourage them to help you cut with scissors or use simple hand tools at home.
2–3 minutes a day of these simple exercises will train their hand muscles, improve their fine motor skills, and, hopefully, help them improve their handwriting.
Muscle memory will come in handy when your child holds their pencil or pen.
Feed your child with healthy food to complement their physical exercises.
Use Handwriting Practice Sheets
Download one of the many handwriting improvement sheets available on the internet to help your child shape their letters and write in a straight line.
Most of these lettering worksheets come in lined paper format to guide your child to write in a straight line.
Others come with templates for different letters in the alphabet. Your child will use each template to write each letter correctly.
With these sheets, your child will learn consistent letterforms, hand lettering, how to write lowercase letters well, and improve their handwriting overall.
Introduce Better Writing Utensils
How good is the quality of writing tools your child uses to write? Do they enjoy using them, or do they struggle every time?
Assess each writing utensil in your child’s stationery set and ask them if they’re happy with it.
The tools you should look at (and change if necessary) are:
- Gel pens
- Fountain pens
- Notebook paper
Buy a quality eraser for your child. Poor quality erasers smudge on the paper and worsen your child’s handwriting.
Improve Your Own Handwriting Skills
Monkey see, monkey do.
Kids learn best from observation. If you want your child to improve their handwriting, maybe you should also start your journey to better writing.
Your child will feel free to consult or share their struggles with you if they realize that their handwriting problem isn’t unique to them.
Take this time to bond with your child as you both learn essential skills to improve your handwriting.
Make Handwritten Notes a Normal and Fun Activity
As you encourage your child to learn hand lettering, help them enjoy writing in a fun activity. After all, all work and no play makes the learning process boring.
Encourage your child to make handwritten thank you notes or tell them to write a message to their friends. If they learn how to inject passion into their written projects, they might be more interested in achieving better handwriting.
The notes will give your child the regular practice they need to perfect their penmanship.
Use Modern Calligraphy as a Writing Tool
Why don’t you encourage your child to learn modern calligraphy in the spirit of making handwriting lessons fun?
While it might not be a necessity in composing essays for classwork, it’s a fun way to pique your child’s interest in nicely shaped letters.
It’ll require your child to write slowly as they master individual strokes to shape their letters.
Learn the art with your child, and you could improve your handwriting as well while bonding.
The Magic Relaxed Grip
Beautiful handwriting is rarely ever the result of a rigid grip on the pencil or pen, and your child needs to hear this from you.
While they should hold their pencil properly, encourage your child to relax their grip, so it’s easy to move their pen on the paper.
Here are a few steps you can take to help your child relax their grip on the pencil:
- Reassure them that they’re doing great
- Keep the mood positive
- Show them gently how to be firm but relaxed
Pro tip: You can help your child have a firm but relaxed grip on their pencil with a quality pencil grip. Try to buy them user-friendly writing tools.
Cursive handwriting might sound like a lost art from the 17th century, but do you know it could be the magic wand you need to help your child improve their handwriting?
Cursive writing is neater and more sophisticated than print hand lettering.
As you engage your child in this form of lettering, they can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone. Your child will improve on their hand lettering and add a touch of classy art to it.
Your child will also learn to write faster because, with cursive lettering, they won’t have to keep lifting their pencil from the paper as they transition to the following letter. The letters are beautifully joined to create attractively legible words.
You can even try italic cursive lettering to help your child shape their letters better. It’s more intricate and harder to perfect but is worth the effort.
Your child could be so exhausted from learning that they can’t understand anything new you try to introduce.
Take healthy breaks from the learning setup, preferably away from the computer, television, or anything that could strain their eyes.
Your child’s eyes are likely fatigued from focusing on the lined paper or practicing on a worksheet.
Look for digital free activities to keep you and your child busy and help them relax after a long learning session.
The main idea here is to try and make the learning process as friendly and fun as possible. You don’t want to push your child to form a negative attitude towards perfecting their writing.
Give a Little Leeway
Discuss options with your child even as you help them perfect their hand lettering prowess.
Identify subjects that require perfect handwriting, such as creative essays, and then subjects that don’t need perfectly shaped letters, like solving maths problems.
With this approach, you’ll help your child feel less compelled to achieve perfection but to do the best they can to improve their lettering.
If your child focuses on perfecting their writing in the crucial subjects, they’ll most likely adopt the same style in other subjects.
Be a Helpful Scribe
If your child’s school allows it, you can help your child take notes on a notebook as they research for a class essay.
Ask them to dictate the points as you note them down.
When your child is ready to write the final essay, their hands won't be tired from the pre-writing session. They’ll channel all their writing energy into writing an excellent and legible essay.
Unearth the Why, Then Deliver the How
After realizing that your older child has problems writing legibly, don’t be quick to apply solutions.
Ask yourself, “why is my child struggling with kindergarten basics?”
Understand the different reasons why kids struggle with great handwriting and see which problem best fits your child.
Now, embark on using appropriate solutions to help your child become a better writer.
Consistency is the only way you’ll help your child do better. Reward your child’s efforts to motivate them to keep doing better.
Most importantly, be the child’s biggest cheerleader. It helps to clear self-doubt, believe in themselves, and put in the work needed to perfect their lettering.