The national curriculum has put a greater emphasis on cursive handwriting. Children in year R are being taught how to write joined up and it’s worrying many parents because they don’t know how to help. I’ve collected some “gems” over the years and have used some of these resources with my daughter. This post gives you easy ays to help your child with hand writing.
What is cursive handwriting?
‘Cursive’ or ‘joined-up’ handwriting is any style of writing where letters are joined to make writing faster.
Make it Fun!
If we can make the physical process of writing – handwriting – enjoyable from the start, children are more likely to see themselves as ‘writers’. If the physical process is unpleasant then there is a danger that everything associated with it – spelling, writing stories will also be unpleasant.
Handwriting is a skill which takes time to learn, just like using a knife and fork or tying your shoelaces. So activities like colouring in, using scissors, anything involving the hands are beneficial.
The Dadlab Youtube channel has some great videos on practicing handwriting with children. This video is a Montessouri method where the child writes the letter in a tray of granulated sugar. It’s so easy to do and great fun.
If you do have a whiteboard, you can write and then get your child to rub out what you have written by tracing over it with a finger. I have done this at Kip McGrath and its so easy to do. Here is a short video.
For a more structured approach try pre-writing activities which involve tracing shapes and lines. I print these out and laminate them so that children can write over them with a dry wipe pen, rub out and write again. Senteacher.org has lots of printable resources you could use.
These worksheets from Activity Village are lovely.
Once your child has mastered simple worksheets, they can move onto pictures. The idea is to give plenty of opportunity to hold a pencil correctly and control the pencil.
Try this lovely owl picture from the Scholastic website.
Then there’s these pre writing worksheets which don’t use dotted lines at all.
Start with your child’s name. This technique is called “back-chaining”.
Write the whole name first, and then write it again underneath but leave off the very last letter for your child to complete. Then write it again, this time leaving off the last two letters and so on, until the whole name is written independently by your child. Doing it this way means there is always a correct model for the student to copy, and you are breaking down your child’s name into manageable chunks.
Starting points are very important- mark them with a dot or a star, and make sure your child is forming the letters in the right direction.
This worksheet from kidstv123.com marks the starting point with a star so the child knows where to start.
I make the children say what they see before they start writing so for example an “m” is a stick and tunnel and a tunnel.
a – round the roundabout and then straight down
b – it’s important to get this right as many children confuse their b’s and d’s. Talk about the letter as if you are describing a movement rather than a shape. Start at the top and go down the ladder. When you get to the bottom go up the ladder a little bit and then go round the roundabout. You may need to explain that the roundabout comes after the ladder.
c – is a curly caterpillar
d- same as the letter “b” but explain that the roundabout/ball comes before the ladder.
e – across the bridge, over the top and down and round.
l – long ladder
r – one-armed robot
Teach similarly formed letters in groups, rather than working alphabetically, so, for instance, “c” and “a” may be taught together as may h, m, n and r.
These workseets from the measured mom are an excellent way of writing numbers. They show clearly where the starting points are and each worksheets covers one number. The numbers are in different sizes too which also helps with pencil control.
Get your child to practice their name by making your own name writing worksheet. Just print the worksheet, and put it into a clear plastic pocket. Children can write on the clear plastic pocket and wipe clean easily if you use dry wipe markers.
To Trace or Not To Trace?
Tracing letters instead of writing from scratch is easier but I would only do that for children who have good pencil control. At Kip McGrath we prefer to start with tracing as it gives the children a template. Tracing improves fine motor skills and should be used initially. Stop tracing once your child can write all the letters of the alphabet confidently.
The following websites do some great tracing worksheets.
SEN Teacher Flash Card Printer – select a word list suitable for your child, select font size 4, select a dotted font and change to a plain border. Print, laminate and use.
Handwriting worksheets – particularly good for making cursive handwriting worksheets.
Soft Schools – easy to use and prints out the handwriting guide lines too.
Super Teacher Worksheets – child friendly worksheets generated, a few are free to try.
Donna Young has a whole section on handwriting resources and what I like abut this website is that they are arranged in order of difficulty.