13 Tips to Help Children Improve Their Handwriting

If you're worried but don't know what to do to help children improve their handwriting, take note of these useful tips.
13 Tips to Help Children Improve Their Handwriting
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 04 January, 2023

Do you want to know how to help children improve their handwriting? Educating and teaching a child isn’t an easy task. Each of the activities requires a lot of time and dedication, and this is exactly what happens with learning to write.

This skill is something that must be learned and reinforced when children are young so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the adult stage. For this reason, in the following article, we’ll offer some guidelines to help your child to improve their handwriting.

Calligraphy: The origin of the new digital era

One of the greatest vital keys of the great Stephen Hawking, according to Alfredo Verdoy in his 2018 article, was to take advantage of his calligraphy courses to incorporate them into the language of computers. Since then, writing from a computer screen, mobile, or tablet has become part of the iconicity of our century.

As a consequence of the brotherhood created with the new technological era, it’s important to understand that the pure act of writing by hand better fixes knowledge, enlivens creativity, and activates and enhances neurological capacities.

This was demonstrated by one of the leading experts in this area of knowledge: Karin Harman James, a researcher in the Department of Brain and Psychological Sciences at Indiana University (USA). In her study published in 2012 by Trends in Neuroscience and Education Magazine, she stated that handwriting not only helps in the process of learning to read, but it’s also important for the early and good development of letters.

What steps should you follow to help children improve their writing?

Teacher Emilia Ferreiro stated that children must have available to them the elements and occasions that are necessary in order to learn according to their needs. They need the adults in their lives (both parents and teachers) to provide literacy support and sufficient knowledge in the area, as well as, and especially, for them to reveal to them the significance that writing and reading have.

This is a requirement in order to lay the foundations for an activity that will be fundamental in their school and professional training.

In this regard, E. Ferreiro herself insisted: “If they understand that letters are important to adults (regardless of why and what for), they’ll try to make them theirs “. Let’s ease their path with these simple and practical tips:

1. Make it easy for them

Offer children the possibility of becoming familiar with pencils and notebooks from a very early age. Therefore, always carry a small pencil case with you that contains colors and pencils, as well as a coloring book. Give them the freedom to draw whatever they want so that they don’t see it as a tedious task and they become familiar with the instruments.

A young girl writing in a notebook.

When your child’s familiar with the instruments, teach them little by little, with a lot of patience, the correct way to hold a pencil. A good way to do this can be to use large sheets of paper or gridded sheets of paper. In this way, the child will be able to guide themself and get the size of the letter right. Don’t forget that everything is learned in stages.

2. Show the child the correct posture for writing before starting

A proper pencil grip, together with a good sitting posture, is essential for excellent writing. The child should keep their back straight and relaxed, and their face shouldn’t be close to the paper. In addition, the sheet of paper or notebook should be placed at a slight angle. If the child’s comfortable, it’ll be a more pleasant activity.

3. Use different techniques

Work with them by doing activities with their hands. This way, they can gain skills and greatly improve their motor skills. The best activities in these cases are working with play dough, coloring with finger paints, or making small balls of paper.

All these are excellent activities to improve their motor skills and also allow you to spend quality time with them.

4. Use age-specific notebooks, one of the best tips to help children improve their handwriting

Specialized age-specific handwriting booklets are still one of the best ways to encourage good handwriting. In fact, they’re usually recommended by teachers and specialists in the field of children’s education. Therefore, they’re professionally supported and researched.

Each one is appropriate for your child’s level. Therefore, they’re prepared with fun and playful exercises to effectively improve their handwriting.

5. Practice Spencer’s method

Platt Rogers Spencer developed ‘Spencerian’ penmanship to achieve elegant, legible handwriting with a lot of personality. This type of handwriting consists of rounded letters, and not only can it be written very quickly, it’s also very easy to read. Therefore, it’s a very effective method.

6. Choose a quiet environment

The environment is essential when writing fluently. With this in mind, you must make sure that the child feels comfortable, at ease, and calm when practicing calligraphy exercises. When it comes to setting aside time to improve their handwriting, it’s about quality, not quantity.

If your child is restless, has a messy room, and doesn’t want to do their homework, this is probably the reason. Concentration is crucial and, to achieve it, it’s important to avoid distractions.

7. Use the cushion trick

Surely you’ve used this little trick more than once to make your own handwriting look perfect. It involves putting a few sheets of paper under the paper on which the child’s going to write. This way, it’ll act as a “cushion”, the handwriting will be more beautiful, and the result will make them feel proud.

As a final tip in this regard, you can also draw lines with a ruler on a sheet of paper (respecting the line spacing) to put it just below where your child writes to serve as a guide.

8. Learn by playing, one of the best tips to help children improve their handwriting

Playing that they’re writing in the air is an easy way to practice the shape of letters and show them that writing can be a lot of fun. It’s also important that you play hangman, crossword puzzles, or any other game they find fun. This way, they won’t feel like it’s an obligation.

9. Set a good example

The best example to follow is given by parents, and children are the first to follow it and copy your every move like sponges. For this reason, we recommend not abusing screens in front of your child when they need to practice their handwriting.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t mean that your child won’t ever see you using technology. The goal is to find a balance to make them see that both activities are beneficial and each has its time and place.

10. Use creativity, one of the best tips to help children improve their handwriting

There are different alternatives for children to be inspired and feel excited when the time comes to practice their handwriting with you. For example, you can buy them some poster board and ask them to write phrases about their favorite animated characters.

Then, it’s also good for them to draw or illustrate what they write. This will help their memorization skills and make them more aware of what they’ve written.

11. Motivation

Always provide them with encouragement and motivation to write better and better. Teach them the value of effort in everything they do so they keep their activities neat, always respecting the margins. In this regard, it’s important that you motivate them to do calligraphy exercises at home.

A teacher helping a young boy learn to write the letter A on a chalkboard.

Stimulate doodling

Doodling is a spontaneous form of line drawing that reflects emotions and promotes the activation of technical elements in terms of grasping a pencil, crayon, or paintbrush. In this form of free drawing, there’s firmness, resolution, and a free and pleasurable purpose.

Conducting this exercise little by little until your child achieves expressive handwriting will show them that, ultimately, the writing of letters involves a lot of art and freedom.

Practicing typing

With both scribbling and typing, children work their hand, wrist, forearm, and upper arm. They need to learn to handle these elements with agility and ductility in order to be able to focus on a small sheet of paper when it comes to writing.

The hand-eye coordination required for writing is refined not only by drawing but also by cutting, molding clay, coloring, and threading needles, among many other activities.

Studies have proven that the development of psychomotor skills has a positive impact on handwriting and legibility.

Taking care of yourself inside and out: The best way to help children improve their handwriting

Remember to combine intellectual and physical exercise. You should allow your child to exercise outdoors by doing activities that include motor skills such as riding a bicycle or throwing a ball.

In addition to helping your child work on their muscles, they’ll achieve the perfect balance between fine and gross motor skills, which will greatly help them advance more and more in each activity.

Also, remember that if your child’s handwriting doesn’t improve or handwriting becomes increasingly difficult for them, you should consult a professional who can help them.

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  • Ferreiro, E. (2007). Leer y escribir en un mundo cambiante. Versión. Estudios de Comunicación y Política, (11), 99-112. https://versionojs.xoc.uam.mx/index.php/version/article/download/159/159
  • James, KH y Engelhardt, L. (2012). Los efectos de la experiencia de escribir a mano en el desarrollo funcional del cerebro en niños prealfabetizados. Tendencias en Neurociencia y Educación , 1 (1), 32-42. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2012.08.001
  • Morillo Santamaría, D. D. R., & Navarrete Rivadeneira, S. A. (2011). El desarrollo de la psicomotricidad fina y su incidencia en la caligrafía en los alumnos de los sextos años de educación básica de las escuelas “Leopoldo Nicolás Chávez” y “María Angélica Hidrobo” de la parroquia san pablo del lago cantón Otavalo (Bachelor’s thesis). http://repositorio.utn.edu.ec/handle/123456789/1710
  • Verdoy, A. (2011). Steve Jobs, un icono de nuestro tiempo. Razón y fe, 264(1358), 375-380. https://revistas.comillas.edu/index.php/razonyfe/article/view/10116

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.