How can I get my child to write neatly?(11 Posts)
Has anyone got any tips or can point me in the direction of useful resources to help my son write neatly? He's 6 1/2 and will be starting yr 2 next year. His writing is legible but it's not very neat. He will often do the letters different sizes and will either leave no gap or half a page between words. He gets quite frustrated with it and I want to help him but I'm not sure where to start.
If he is becoming frustrated with his writing why not try some Fine Motor Skills (FMS) games. If there have been a lack of these in his previous education settings then he may just need a little more practice with pencil grip / control, or indeed letter and number formation.
I've attached some files I have used in the past - the children can draw along the lines to help them gain better control. Alternatively, you can practice using scissors and cut along the lines.
Another thing which might help are more ergonomic pencil grips:
They can help the child grip the pencil more comfortably.
One more idea - playing FMS skills such as using tweezers to transfer pom poms from one tub to another. Or threading a shoelace through holes in a bit of card (usually in the shape of something appealing).
Anything which involves controlled smaller movements of the hand can help him. You should also (if possible) ensure that wherever he does his learning at home is a rich environment. Get a shapes / letters poster? Or write your own and stick them on the walls. That way he can see the correct formation.
Hope some of this is helpful! I have a few more sheets like the ones attached if you would like more.
Write from the start
Is really effective. It is a set of exercises to develop fine motor control and visual perception. The difference it made to my son's writing wad unbelievable. You do have be quite disciplined and do the worksheets for 15 minutes every day. It is a bit dull, but well worth it.
DS struggles with this too. At one point this year he couldn't even read his own writing.
We have found few things to help.
1) Letting him know it's not acceptable. If he writes homework or birthday cards illegibly we ask him to do them again. He can actually do a lot better if he can be bothered.
2) Separating the writing and thinking what to write tasks. We get him to say out loud what sentence he's going to write before he starts writing it.
3) Handwriting lines. Gives him clearer rules about what goes where. He's visibly happier writing with them. I think getting used to writing a consistent size and with good letter formation is more important at this stage than being able to do it on a blank sheet. (Must print some more, we've been slack about this lately.)
I don't think I'd ever be able to get DS to do something dull for 15 minutes a day. He is doing a lot of drawing at the moment so we're hoping that will help sort him out fine motor skills wise. He never got into drawing before school so he did have a big gap to catch up and writing really started too soon for him.
Also subbing for ideas.
Have you tried a Leappad? You can get them for around £35 in Argos and they have a bit on the homescreen where you have to copy letters without going over the lines x3 before you can move on. V frustrating but may help his concentration on the detail?
I second what catkind says. Handwriting lines or as an alternative use a highlighter pen to mark the lower half of ordinary ruled paper (small letters should fit in this area ...tall letters should touch the lines).
Watch how he forms the letters, where he starts and ends, as this is the most common cause of poor handwriting and why I would recommend avoiding any activity that involves tracing over a letter. It's very easy to "draw" the shape without using correct letter formation.
It's probably just his fine motor skills need improving. Can you concentrate on line drawing very creative monsters and Aliens. Or playing musical instruments or jigsaws. He's only 6, he will naturally improve by juniors.
Reading and observing lots of text in books will help too.
Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:
Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
(mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
"monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
"Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
awareness in the hands.
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.
1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.
2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.
3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.
4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.
5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.
6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.
7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.
8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.
9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.
10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)
11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.
12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.
13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.
14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.
15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.
16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.
17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.
OP, one further thought is to make sure that he has got the mechanics of writing correct. This is more than just having the right pencil grip. My DD's handwriting was really poor, despite the fact that she had excellent fine motor skills and a correct pencil grip (could cut complex shapes very neatly and accurately, sew, make fiddly models etc). We eventually had her writing assessed, and it turned out the issue was that she bent her wrist while writing, which meant she had less control and also pressed too hard on the page. She would also work with the sheet straight in front of her. Changing her wrist position, getting her to press less hard and making sure the paper was at an appropriate angle made a huge difference to her writing. She'll never be the neatest in the class, but it is now consistently legible.
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