Easy Ways To Help Your Child With Handwriting.


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.

Pre-writing Activities

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.

football_pencil_controltracing_lines_2

tracing_patterns_dotted

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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.

 owl-handwriting-practice

Then there’s these pre writing worksheets which don’t use dotted lines at all.

pre-handwriting-practice-pages-for-preschool-and-kindergarten-from-walking-by-the-way

Back Chaining

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.

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Back- Chaining a technique to help your child learn to write their name.

Starting Points

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.

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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.

How to Teach Halving


HALVING SHAPES

Before teaching a child to halve a number, make sure that they can halve a shape.   Most children find it easy to halve a shape and don’t realise that halving means the same as splitting into 2 equal parts. So before teaching your child how to halve a number, please make sure that they have understood the following common misconceptions:

1.  When you half a shape, you must make sure that it is split in the middle.  This teaches the child that halving must be fair and that both halves must look the same.

2.  There is more than one way to half a shape.  Ask your child to halve a rectangle or square in as many ways as possible.  This should include diagonally as well.

3.  Draw and inaccurately half some shapes so that some are split unequally, some are split into three or more pieces.  then ask your child to find out if they have been halved.

HALVING NUMBERS

There are many ways to explain the term of “half of”; sharing equally between 2 people, counting in 2’s, dividing by 2, opposite of doubling and splitting down the middle.

Different ways of working out half of a (2)

Therefore, there are a variety of ways of teaching halving.  Choose a method that your child finds easy, and stick to it.  Once they are confident with that method, try to teach a different way of halving.

I always start off teaching a child how to share equally.  I usually use counters and draw 2 smiley faces on a whiteboard or piece of paper representing me and the child.  The child has to share the counters between the smiley faces.  Sometimes you have to teach a child “one for you, one for me” and once they have learnt this they find it quite easy.  Make sure that once all the counters have been shared between the 2 smiley faces, that they have been shared equally.  the child needs to check every time. “How many do you have and how many do I have” seems to work well.  What if the counters have not been shared equally?  The child can repeat again or if they have caught on, they will be able to move some counters around to make the distribution fair.  I use this method for up to 24 counters.

For numbers larger than 24, using counters can be time-consuming and often ends up with the child miscounting.  By now the child should know half of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 without working them out. So I break down larger numbers into manageable chunks, and then ask the child to share equally between 2 smiley faces.

Example 1:  Draw 2 smiley faces.  Half of 30 = 10+10+10 Draw three 10’s in circles at the side as in diagram below.

How To half 30
How to half 30

Then share as in the diagram below, the smiley faces will get 10 each and then, there will be 10 left which will have to be split into 5’s.  So each person gets 15.

Halving 30
How to halve 30

The same method can be used for bigger numbers and it’s easy and simple.

half of 34 = 10+10+10+4

half of 50 = 10+10+10+10+10

Do try this with your children and let me know if it works.

Spend Quality Time With Your Child – Watch TV Together!


This year I have decided to spend more quality time with my family.  And do you know what I will be doing – sitting on the sofa watching TV most evenings and weekends. 

There used to be a time when I would schedule outings and activities every weekend to the extent that it took up most of the week arguing about where to go and what to do.  We went on regular trips to London, museums, parks, ice-skating, picnics and clocked miles and miles on the car milometer. 

All this was in aid of spending “quality time” with the family.  But as I look back on the best of these times, then they were the ones which were spontaneous and natural.  Like the time we ended up going to Namco’s and playing on the games and slot machines.  We only did it because the movie we wanted to see was sold out. 

The most natural thing we do as a family is watch TV together.  When I say watch then I mean as they watch TV in the BBC programme “The Royle Family“.  The TV is on, but we aren’t really watching anything. It is the only time in the day that we actually talk.  The TV just provides a familiar background noise.  And if the whole point of quality time is to get talking, then why not do it in the comfort of one’s own home.