It must be hard for you to see how lousy your teenager’s handwriting is even after all the handwriting practice at school.
You understand the need to improve their handwriting skills because they’ll need to write essays, notes, and communicate well throughout school, college, and into their career.
Your teenager went through all the early grades where they teach good handwriting, but still! The struggle continues, and you can see the frustration in their face as they try to make their handwriting better.
What if your child’s penmanship could improve in only 10 days?
That sounds like wishful thinking, right? Well, it isn’t.
You can help your teenagers improve their handwriting in ten school days by applying the following amazing tips.
Identify the Real Culprit
Your teenager’s bad handwriting could be linked to their love for crafts more than writing, or not.
It could be that they haven’t learned how to grip their writing utensils correctly, or they could have a learning disability.
If you need to, consult a handwriting expert to help you identify what your child is struggling with.
Ask your teenager to write a passage and check for:
- Spacing between letters and words
- Slanted letters
- Styling and shaping letters
- Letter heights
- Consistent baselines for all letters
The full audit on your child’s handwriting will help you pinpoint the areas they should work on. It makes it easier to help your teenager by focusing on a specific issue instead of relying on guesswork.
Gently point out the issues you’ve identified and be there for your child as they start their neater handwriting journey.
Common Causes of Poor Handwriting in Teenagers
- Unrefined fine motor skills
- Learning disabilities
- Multiple confusing fonts
- Poor teacher and guardian support
- Shaky foundation in letter formation and shaping
If your child has a learning disability, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, book them for occupational therapy to learn how to write better.
What has posture got to do with neat handwriting?
How does your child sit when they write?
If they slouch in their seat or bend their back, they may be too uncomfortable to focus on good handwriting. These bad habits could be what’s stopping them from having the best handwriting.
The correct posture when writing is sitting up straight with both hands on the table or desk. The ankles, hips, and knees should be at 90 degrees, and the feet should be on the ground.
The writing table should be at the waist to help your child stay upright and be comfortable as they write.
If your teenager is right-handed, encourage them to hold the paper down with their left thumb to hold it in place. If they’re left-handed, teach them how to hold down the writing paper with the right thumb.
Discourage your teenager from holding their chin, lying on the table, or keeping their free hand under the table when writing.
You can also take up some exercises with them, such as stretches to boost their upper body strength.
How Firm Is Your Child’s Grip?
Poor handwriting is often the result of poor pen or pencil grip.
Ask your teenager to write a few sentences and observe how they hold their pen or pencil.
They should hold it with the thumb and index finger, with the fingers bent towards the pencil. The pencil should lie on the middle finger, with the other fingers tucked beneath the middle finger.
Teach them how to hold the writing tools properly and watch them start their journey to handwriting improvement.
Better Writing Utensils, Better Handwriting
You can also help your child write legibly by accessorizing their writing tools and choosing the most comfortable ones for their hands.
Buy a good pencil or pen grip to help your child hold onto their pencil more firmly.
Gel pens might be too slippery and fast for your child. Cheap ballpoints can be clumpy, and the result is usually messy handwriting.
Help your child or student pick the writing utensils they feel most comfortable with and encourage them to learn neater handwriting.
Pro tip: Triangular-shaped pencils and pens have a firmer grip and are more comfortable to use. Try them and assess if they help your child improve their handwriting skills.
Strengthen the Hand Muscles and Fine Motor Skills
In the digital age, your child might be spending too much time perfecting their keyboarding skills at the expense of their handwriting skills.
The downside to this is that their hand muscles may have weakened, and they struggle to hold their pen well.
You can help them strengthen their hand and finger muscles as well as hone their fine motor skills through simple hand-targeted exercises. Encourage them to:
- Use hand tools such as scissors
- Exercise the wrists with activities such as painting
- Make simple crafts with their hands
These simple exercises will help improve your child’s finger dexterity and help them have a firmer pen grip.
Not Too Late for Handwriting Sheets
If your child writes poorly, handwriting sheets are just what you need to help them re-learn how to shape letters.
These worksheets will give your child the handwriting practice they need to form letters well and learn how to write neatly.
Practice Makes Perfect
Ten days in a school year is a lot of time for you and your child or student to perfect handwriting skills.
Create a practice timetable with your teenager, and help them stick to it.
You can even create a daily journal like the one below to record their progress.
With a journal, you could be helping your child achieve other educational purposes such as making and keeping a diary.
Encourage your teenager to be consistent in their handwriting practice and push themselves to do better every day.
Stay focused on helping your older child have more control of their writing and make the best of the support they’re getting from you.
Introduce Traditional Calligraphy and Cursive Writing
Older kids find calligraphy enticing, and your child could benefit from learning the art of traditional calligraphy.
Your teenager will need to perfect their letter size, shape, and style to achieve perfect calligraphy.
As they train their fingers to shape the letters, they’ll be subconsciously improving their handwriting skills.
Cursive handwriting is also an excellent tool you can use to help your teenager improve their handwriting.
Many children get tired easily when using non-cursive writing because they have to lift their pencil or pen every time they transition from one word to another.
Cursive handwriting will require your child to join letters as they go while writing in a straight line. It also makes it easier to shape letters and write correctly.
Use Wide Ruled Papers
Lined papers help your child standardize the length of their letters.
Encourage them to write on the straight lines and only use the space between them.
A standard lined paper should have 8mm spaces between the lines. The spacing will help your child write medium-legible letters.
The wide-ruled papers will also assist in building up your teenager’s fine motor skills. They train eye and hand coordination, making it easier for your child to write in a straight line.
Lined sheets also come with a margin. Encourage your student to write numbers along the margin and within the line space.
The margin will help your child learn how to write legible numbers.
Help Your Teenager Write Slowly and Purposely
Handwriting is an art that cannot be rushed.
If your child rushes to finish a sentence, they are more likely to have poor handwriting.
Observe how fast your child writes, and if it’s too fast, encourage them to write slowly.
Slowing down will help your teenager pay more attention to how they shape their letters, write in a straight line, and check if their letters are the right size.
Encourage your teenager to understand the benefits of writing slowly to improve handwriting, against the disadvantages of writing fast to compete with other children.
Don’t Be a Boring Teacher
Your teenager might get bored stiff if you keep telling them to write on school books. Why not engage them in creative projects while they practice how to write well?
Get them to write your grocery list, thank you notes for the family, or personalized messages to their friends.
Be a Cheerleader
Many parents don’t understand that older kids with bad handwriting may struggle with deeper issues such as low self-esteem.
If your older child has been in this struggle, assure them that they’re okay. Help them understand that improving handwriting is doable and that you’ll support them all the way.
You can also take up the writing neatly challenge to learn with them.
Learn different grips together as you experiment with writing materials, and make it a fun process.
It’s Never Too Late
If your teenager still can’t write neatly, all is not lost.
Be a proactive parent and make deliberate moves towards helping them improve their penmanship.
In doing so, you’ll be helping your teenagers pump up their confidence levels as they catch up with other children with legible handwriting.
While at it, be a good sport and appreciate efforts made, however small. If they know that you’re rooting for their success, they’ll put in the work to make you proud.