“Write so others can understand without you explaining what it says.” I told my son this the other day. Even though he can correctly spell many words at 6-years-old, his handwriting is a challenge. Ever since he started pre-handwriting exercises, I noticed that fine motor skills were hard for him. I thought that handwriting was a natural process and that he would be getting better with practice, but I’ve realized that I need to look for opportunities to help him at home. I understand that his handwriting won’t be perfect, but as a mom I also know when he needs to improve.
In the beginning, I didn’t know where to start and he was showing a lot of resistance. After a full day at school, and if this teacher didn’t specifically assign handwriting homework, he wouldn’t cooperate. In those moments, I had to apply my ‘mom powers’ for him to do it and tried negotiating. Over time, I’ve learned some tricks that helped both of us make this practicing easier. Now he enjoys writing and others are able to read his handwriting. Here are some of the things that have helped us:
Handwriting Tips for Early School-Age Kids
Set up a timer to work on handwriting exercises
Before doing this, when it was time for him to do his handwriting exercises, he would shout and say “no.” One time I had the idea to ask Alexa to set a timer for 15 minutes—and everything became easier. He knew he had to practice, but he also knew it was just for 15 minutes—I could tell that motivated him.
He has his own ‘pen pal’
He hasn’t been able to see one of his friends in person since the pandemic started, but he has been able to exchange some cards and letters with him. His mom and I agreed that it would be a good opportunity for them to practice and they became pen pals. We encouraged them to write each other once a week, but writing is no longer boring and now they eagerly write to each other regularly.
Find fun pencils and accessories
Another one of the challenges my son has is holding a pencil correctly, so we’ve been trying to find some accessories to help. There are some really useful things like fat pencils, triangular grip pencils, and pencil holders/grip supporters. His teacher also recommended writing with broken crayons since the size of the crayon will promote a correct way to hold a pencil.
I’m confident that his handwriting will improve, but I also know that this doesn’t happen overnight and will take time and lots of practice. My husband and I are frequently coaching our son about giving his best effort, no matter what he is doing, including handwriting practice.
Tips for Developing Handwriting Skills in Preschool-Age Kids
At the same time, we are also preparing our preschooler and want to encourage a better development of his fine motor skills. These are some of the tools and exercises we for this:
Yes, playing with playdough is not only fun, but it helps your child’s hand strength which eventually can help them get a better grip on a pencil.
Painting sets the basis for good handwriting and we can make it fun by finding coloring books with some of their favorite characters.
Do some pre-writing exercises
From practicing straight lines to drawing circles, this can help preschoolers increase strength in their fingers.
As parents, you’re probably already doing this with your preschoolers, but now I try to do it consciously. I intentionally set aside some time for this type of play, knowing it will help him when he gets into kindergarten.
In the end, I believe the most important thing is the support we give our kids in the learning process, showing them that it’s important outside of school, too. We can do the things above need to avoid stress while practicing, and applaud their achievements (big or small) so they feel all their efforts have been worth it.