5 Exercises to Improve Children's Handwriting

Discover exercises and activities to help improve children's handwriting in the article below. Not only are they effective, but they're also enjoyable. 
5 Exercises to Improve Children's Handwriting

Last update: 24 April, 2019

When you improve children’s handwriting you also improve their fine motor skills and their hand-eye coordination.

Although it seems like a fairly simple task to use a pencil, writing entails simultaneous motor and sensory processes that aren’t always automatic. The writing process is also clearly dependent on sufficient muscular development of the hands.

“Psychomotor development is established based on two principles: from the global to the selective, and from the proximal to distal, which indicates that initially, the development of the musculature and motor ability originates from the trunk, to the shoulders, and posteriorly to the hands and fingers.”

–Tracey Le Roux–

It’s clear that you cannot assure good penmanship if your child has yet to develop the right motor abilities as described above. In addition, the child needs to develop the ability to use a tripod pencil grasp to sustain the pencil adequately.

Another key component to improving children’s handwriting is that they learn to make fluid strokes.

As a general goal, it’s expected that by around 6 years old, most children will have graduated from using the five-finger grasp of a pre-schooler to the three-fingered pencil grasp. With the tripod-type pencil grasp, the writing exercises described below will be more effective.

Keys to improve children’s handwriting

1. Hold the pencil correctly

To start, it’s necessary that children hold the pencil with their thumb, their index finger and the middle finger.

Another important aspect is that the length and thickness of the pencil are appropriate for the size of the child’s hand. At the same time, the child’s grasp of the pencil should be firm but not too tight.

2. Maintain proportions

One of the reasons that a child’s writing can appear sloppy or hard to understand is because of a lack of consistency.

It’s important to use a special notebook that is printed with double lines. This will help the child differentiate between the height of the capital letters and the height of the small letters.

5 Exercises to Improve Children's Handwriting

3. Use entertaining ways to motivate practice

Some activities that can help to improve handwriting in children are traditional games. Connect the dots, alphabet soup, and hangman are fun ways to learn how to better handle a pencil.

4. Strengthen muscle groups

As mentioned above, children’s fine motor skills depend on muscular development. For this reason, it’s essential to exercise the fingers and wrists each day.

Some easy ways to do this are: playing with sand, playing with construction blocks, using silverware at the table, coloring, cutting paper, or modelling with clay.

5. Spend more time reading

That’s right, reading not only improves creative and cognitive development, it also benefits a child’s writing. The more familiarized the child is with the defined strokes and proportions of each letter, the easier it will be.

If the child is used to reading, he or she will have a more concrete mental image of what writing out letters is like.

In other words, children who read a lot learn to mimic letters more easily.

Other important advice to improve children’s handwriting

  • Recognize if there is some deeper problem. Many children with handwriting problems have other learning difficulties. Messy handwriting can hide spelling problems and attention span deficiencies. Unclear handwriting can also show a lack of interest in academic subjects.
  • Give them a friendly and positive environment. This is so children won’t think the handwriting exercises are a punishment. Pick a place where they can sit properly with good posture and where the lighting is adequate so they can practice and hone this skill more effectively.
5 Exercises to Improve Children's Handwriting
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on your child. Patience and calm will help your child to feel more secure and capable. That is to say that hurrying or forcing your child to quickly write well can be counterproductive and cause unnecessary frustrations.
  • Use primers and stencils. There are a large number of predesigned notebooks that offer examples to trace. There are also all kinds of plastic stencils available to help children more uniformly sketch out individual letters and practice their handwriting. Moreover, many of the products available also stimulate other fine motor skills like coloring, cutouts, and drawing.
  • Stimulate their artistic abilities. Painting or making sculptures not only stimulates creativity, it also helps to increase coordination. Above all, coordination is a fundamental condition so that children can correctly plot each letter of the alphabet.

In summary, improving children’s handwriting isn’t an impossible task if they practice constantly. Applying the right tactics will assure that handwriting doesn’t become a tedious task for your child but rather a time to share.

Make handwriting practice enjoyable and you’ll strengthen this important ability with marvellous results.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Fons, M. (2001). Enseñar a leer y a escribir. En Didáctica de la lengua en la educación infantil. Monserrat, Bigas y Monserrat Correig (Edits.) pp. 179-212. Madrid: SÍNTESIS, S. A.
  • Gómez, L. F. (2007). Caligrafía y legibilidad. Correo del Maestro, (131).
  • Peña, J. (2010). Exploración sobre la experiencia en escritura de niños de la primera etapa de educación básica. Legenda, 13(10), 164-181. http://erevistas.saber.ula.ve/index.php/legenda/article/viewFile/613/754
  • Villalobos, J. (2006). La lectura y la escritura como herramientas para el desarrollo del cono-cimiento y aprendizaje. En J. Peña González y S. Serrano de Moreno (Comps.), La lectura y la escritura. Teoría y práctica (pp. 33-58). Mérida. Venezuela: Consejo de Desarrollo Científico Humanístico y Tecnológico y Consejo de Estudios de Postgrado Universidad de Los Andes.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.