Tips to Boost Handwriting

Written by Anita Warwick

From encouraging mark making in the early years, to writing for a purpose and developing an individual style, regular handwriting sessions will help children settle back into classroom routines. Following our previous blog about the importance of teaching handwriting here are some tips and ideas to boost children’s confidence and enjoyment of handwriting practice.

Getting Ready to Write

Children begin to write by making marks and patterns. Encourage this by enabling the use of crayons, chalks, pencils, pens, paint, paintbrushes, paper, card, whiteboards, chalkboards and clipboards. Children also need plenty of exercise and play to develop their fine and gross motor skills.

Start each handwriting lesson with action rhymes and warm-ups. Demonstrate how children should sit, hold their pencil and position their paper. The Nelson Handwriting online subscription is useful to new teachers or those who are not confident about the correct letter formation and joins. Each unit includes an animation of the focus letter, join or patterns.

Once children can write some letters*, for example s a t p i n m d, they can start making two and three letter words. Just one word a week, displayed on a wall and added to, quickly builds a word bank that helps children read and spell too.

Here are some other tips for fun handwriting practice:

  • go outside and draw letters in the air using a finger or ribbon wands
  • finger trace over tactile letters
  • glue pasta or string over a letter(s) or joined words in the correct direction
  • use a finger or stick to write letters in a sand/paint tray
  • write on the playground with large coloured chalks
  • write letters/make patterns with a wax crayon then apply a colour wash
  • offer a range of activities using plasticine, clay or salt dough.

Setting up a ‘writing area/corner’ also provides an ideal opportunity to encourage writing for a purpose.

Building Stamina to Aid Fluency

As joined handwriting is a movement skill, it is essential it is taught and continues to be part of a daily routine. Little and often helps ensure children get into good habits.

For children who need more support, use a highlighter pen to demonstrate the correct formation of a letter in their books, while they watch, trace over, copy and practise.

As children progress, they learn to consider the visual impact of their writing, as well as accuracy. Nelson Handwriting encourages the development of individual styles, including slanted and printed writing and aspects of presentation, such as spacing, borders, and illustration. Children should gain experience across different forms of writing for different purposes to help them transfer their handwriting skills to all other areas of the curriculum.

Here are some ideas for encouraging presentation skills:

  • a termly handwriting competition
  • award ‘pen licences’ **
  • a ‘Most Improved Handwriting’ Award of the Week
  • experiment with presentation, for example ask children to write a poem which forms a shape relating to its subject.

Handwriting is a skill that once taught and mastered remains with us for the rest of our lives.  

By Anita Warwick

Nelson Handwriting provides a consistent whole-school approach to handwriting, with complete teaching support, and engaging and interactive activities.

Click here if you would like to talk to an educational consultant about how Nelson Handwriting can help you support your pupils, or here to access a free sample lesson.

*        Research into handwriting Front. Psychol., 22 January 2020        | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03054  kindergarten children trained to write letters with pencil and paper showed superior performance in letter recognition and had improved visuo-spatial skills compared with keyboard training

**       When able to form and join letters correctly, children begin to write with a pen in most lessons.


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