My older children resist handwriting practice so I have been pondering ways to get them to practice their handwriting. I also am teaching a writing class at our weekly co-op so here is a list of some ways that we get practice handwriting around here.
Why Practice Handwriting with a Purpose?
Children may not want to practice the difficult fine motor skills necessary to learn to write. However, handwriting is an essential skill, despite the many ways we use technology. Using paper and pen is not going anywhere!
The fine motor skills necessary for handwriting are difficult for children to develop in a world with too much technology. It actually takes a lot of practice to teach your muscles how to form each letter! Sometimes it helps if children see the point of what they are writing. If what they are writing is boring to them, they will be even less happy with the prospect of doing the work. Finding a way to make it a necessary or interesting task will help them be motivated to practice even more.
How Can a Teacher or Parent Give a Purpose to Handwriting?
It’s not always easy to give a purpose to handwriting, and sometimes it may simply be time to practice. I hope these ideas below might help you get your ideas going!
Handwriting Practice with Thank-You cards and other greeting cards
When my son was younger, I prompted him to respond to gifts with a personalized, handwritten thank you card. I created some note cards with primary-grade lines and I need to make more! My kids do not complain when I say to write a note to Grandma. I modeled the sentence my young one wants to write, and then he or she will copy it. It was copywork with a purpose!
Handwriting Practice with Lists
My kids sometimes help write the shopping list, and my son also sometimes make a list for our weekly “Family Fun Night” telling me what he wants to do or what books he wants to read. It takes him a long time to get the “schedule” written down, and it’s good writing practice.
Handwriting Practice with Stories
When my kids have an idea, they can write it down in pictures or with their own “creative” spelling, which is spelled in whichever way he or she wants to spell. Other times, I let my children dictate their stories sometimes instead of making him write them himself. Although that does not always help him with the handwriting, it does help him put words in order. Watching me write helps him learn the process. I’m excited to let my co-op class get plenty of storytelling and sharing time this year! We also do plenty of storytelling to each other. My son loves to hear my stories from when I was a little girl. He loves to try to tell them back to me when I forget special details. Having something interesting to say, such as a story, is great motivation to learning to write.
Handwriting Practice with Math and other homework
My children practice handwriting when they do math problems. Number writing practice is better than nothing! Other assignments also require complete sentences for my older kids. They may not like it, but it’s an important skill.
Handwriting Practice while Labeling
We’re learning Spanish so I let the kids label things around the house. Our Spanish curriculum even includes stickers for labeling some of the items, so we of course had to write down the other words we knew!
Sometimes we do writing races using the whiteboard and markers or the Magna Doodle. We draw a letter card and race to see who can write it and return to the start spot first. Sometimes we make it so we’re trying to get a family of stuffed animals back to their homes: for each correct letter we write, we get to take an animal back. We can do this with spelling words too.
New surfaces or writing tools
My daughter loves to practice handwriting on a whiteboard, as I mentioned above. We can also write, using those same dry erase markers, on the back door! Chalk is also fun. Different muscles are strengthened when a vertical writing surface is used. There is also less complaining when we’re using fancy pens, too.
Adding Purpose to Handwriting Practice
Adding a purpose to our handwriting practice makes it less tedious than copywork all the time would be. I like to write with a purpose, and my kids are less likely to complain if they have a purpose for the writing they are doing.
What do you do to get your kids practicing handwriting?