Handwriting Training for Children
Handwriting is an essential skill for both children and adults even in the age of technology. Handwriting remains the primary tool of communication and knowledge assessment for students in the classroom.
Handwriting refers to a person's writing created with a writing utensil such as a pen or pencil. The term encompasses both printing and cursive styles and is separate from formal calligraphy or typeface. It is, in essence, a visible form of a person's voice, including pitch and tone. Because each person's handwriting is unique, it can be used to verify a document's writer. The deterioration of a person's handwriting is also a symptom or result of certain diseases.
Even in this digital age, the art of handwriting has not lost its importance in education. Many schools now require that students entering kindergarten be able to write the print manuscript alphabet, as well as their own names. While cursive script writing took a backseat for several years, its usefulness has been rediscovered, and students in the upper elementary grades are again learning how to write in cursive.
"When kids struggle to write neatly and efficiently, they are often accused of being lazy, and this may affect their behavior and self esteem.
Below, you will find a large assortment of various handwriting practice worksheets which are all free to print. Some of the icons link to new pages of worksheets, such as the famous quotes. Others are basic alphabet tracing. Whether you are a classroom teacher or a parent teaching kids to write at home, you’ll find plenty of great worksheets here.
Even in this age of technology, reading and marking a child's handwritten work is still (often unfairly) the primary way that elementary teachers figure out what their pupils know.
Kids with poor handwriting may be at a disadvantage when a teacher marks their written work. They may also struggle to write creatively or even to write down answers correctly, as it takes all their concentration and effort to just get ANYTHING down on paper.In high school years, kids who struggle with handwriting may suffer even more as they struggle to keep up with the volume of written work required.
Skills Influencing Handwriting for Kids
Handwriting for kids is influenced by many different underlying skills. I have tried to outline most of these in this article to help parents (and teachers) to better understand why a child may be struggling with handwriting.
A brief overview of the skills that can influence handwriting for kids,
- Visual motor integration
- Fine motor skills
- Eye-hand co-ordination
- Spatial Perception
- Sensory Feedback
- Orthographic coding
- Visual perceptual skills
- Motor Planning Skills
- Cognitive Skills (intellectual ability) and language ability
- Organization and problem solving skills
- Page related to hand writing for kids
Finger Exercises for kids
These finger exercises for kids are designed to increase the dexterity and skill of the tripod fingers, with the hope of ultimately improving your child's pencil control and handwriting
In order to control a pencil and develop good handwriting skills, a child’s hand muscles need to work well together.
In particular, as you can see from the picture above, three fingers: the thumb, index and middle fingers work together to control the pencil in what is called a dynamic tripod pencil grasp.
I refer to these 3 fingers as the tripod fingers.
Once your child has the hang of getting the tripod fingers to work together, the fingers should be able to move freely and easily in order to control a pencil for flowing handwriting.
These OT finger exercises are designed for kids who have already had practice with using just their tripod fingers.
They can be used as exercises to improve handwriting.
- If your child is very young, or still tends to use 4 or 5 fingers on a pencil, first work on isolating the tripod fingers.
- If your child's hand muscles are very weak, first work on some hand strengthening exercise
Then head back for these finger exercises and activities to help improve pencil control and handwriting.
- Keep the tripod fingers isolated
- Finger ball walk
- Play dough finger exercises
- Mini paper crumpling
The Tripod Fingers
In all these finger exercises, your child needs to have the tripod fingers isolated.
I usually ask the child to hold a small piece of paper under the ring and little fingers.
This arch is important as it gives stability to the joints and muscles of the hands while the tripod fingers are moving and thus reduces fatigue during handwriting.
Try writing with your ring and little fingers sticking out a bit, and you can immediately feel the strain on your hand!
The kids whose hands are pictured below have not yet developed this stable arch, and all of them tire easily during handwriting tasks!
When fine motor skills are weak, it may take a child a while to get the hang of moving the tripod fingers on their own.
If your child struggles to keep the ring and little fingers down on a piece of paper, have your child hold down the fingers as shown below.
Finger Ball Walk
Introduce your child to this activity without using the tripod fingers, until they get the hang of walking the ball up and down their legs. (Or up one leg, across the tummy, and down the other leg!)
Look out for kids making grabbing movements with their hands instead of getting a WALKING movement with their fingers.
Once they have got the hang of walking their fingers, then isolate the tripod fingers as explained above.
You can also vary the size and type of ball used
Walking DOWN the leg takes more control than walking up!
If your child has a "lazy thumb", try using just the thumb and index fingers to walk the ball.
Play dough Finger Exercise
Use the tripod fingers to roll out small balls with a rolling movement of the fingers and small sausages with a back and forth movement of the fingers. Sausages can be easier than balls at first.
Mini Paper Crumpling
This is one of my favorite activities as it is so easy to have a box of different color papers on hand to add a 3D aspect to any picture.
•Cut small squares of crepe or tissue paper ahead of time (crepe holds its shape better) .
•Give your child one piece of paper at a time to squish a bit as shown above, using the tripod fingers of both hands.
•Then ask your child to use just the tripod fingers of the dominant hand to one-handed ROLL the crumpled paper into a smaller, tighter ball.
•Use the balls to decorate a picture.
Here's a quick tutorial on cutting those little squares quickly and easily...
1) Crepe paper usually comes folded up. Cut a strip about 3cm wide, right across the folds.
2) Cut the strip in half, and then snip the ends off so the folds are removed.
3) After both ends are snipped off, fan out the layers of crepe paper to separate them.
4) I like to keep a container of various colors of paper on hand, ready to use. MiniPaper1
These finger exercises, and just about all my fine motor information and activities.