Cursive writing may share the dinosaurs' fate. Like the T-Rex that became extinct millions of years ago, cursive writing faces a defunct future as more school districts phase out instructing the creative form of handwriting.
While cursive writing may fall prey to typing skills, handwriting is still an essential tool. Whether your child attends public school or is homeschooled, grows up to become a computer engineer or English teacher, their training starts with forming that all important letter "A."
If you notice your child struggling with his handwriting, here are some ways you can help him improve his skills and gain confidence in his abilities.
1. Develop fine motor skills
There's a reason why so many preschool projects involve rice, beads, beans, and shells. Working with these tiny objects builds your child's fine motor skills and develops hand muscles necessary in handwriting. Look for ways your child can develop fine motor skills at home. Opportunities abound, from misting the plants to finger painting.
2. Identify the problem
Where is your child having the most difficulty? Forming letters, sizing letters, lining words on the page, or spacing between words? All are tasks that have remedies unique to each other. If you daughter has trouble forming letters, tracing paper will be her best friend. A child who sizes letters incorrectly will benefit from using lined paper.
3. Get a grip
The first step toward legible handwriting is holding the writing tool correctly. Little kids naturally grab crayons and markers with a closed fist. As your child approaches preschool age, begin showing him the proper way to hold a pencil: Hold in place with the thumb, index and middle fingers.
4. Encourage your child to go slow
Kids are busy creatures! They've got places to go and often quickly scribble their way through an assignment. Encourage your child to take their time writing the letters. If you have the time, grab a pencil and piece of paper and sit down to write a letter. Your daughter will be more likely to model your behavior.
5. Don't press so hard
Check the table where your son was doing his homework. If you can see letter imprints in the wood, he's pressing too hard! Pressing hard on the paper makes letter formation difficult. Additionally fingers cramp up sooner. Encourage your child to relax his grip on the pencil.
6. Have the right tools
Your child will be more successful if she's armed with the right tools to improve her handwriting. Head to the store to pick up the following items:
- Different sized pencils. The verdict's still out on whether or not jumbo-sized pencils help with writing skills. Some kids have difficulty properly grasping the oversized pencils. If your child is one of them, switch to regular sized pencils. Better yet, try a golf pencil. They're smaller and lighter.
- Dry erase board. Perfect for letting your child repeatedly practice her letters. Saves paper, too!
- Plastic wipe-off sheets. Laminate sturdy stock paper. Your child can use wet-erase markers that will easily wipe off with a wet paper towel.
- Raised line paper. Raised line paper is a child's best friend. Kids can feel the lines on the paper which helps them learn proper sizing.
- Tracing paper and alphabet book. This combination lets kids trace the letters getting a proper feel for how they're constructed.
- Erasers. The only way to learn is through making mistakes. Make sure you have plenty of erasers on hand.
- Fun accessories. Pencil toppers, different colored pencils, brightly colored kid-friendly notebooks — anything to help your child associate handwriting with fun.
7. Think positive
Don't worry when your kindergartner writes his "A's" backwards for the entire year. It's okay that your preschooler's name takes up the entire page. Learning to write is like learning to ride a bike. It takes time, but once the task's accomplished, it stays with your child for a lifetime.