How to Practise Handwriting at Home, for All Ages
Reading & Phonics
Handwriting is one of the first goals of early childhood education, even before school is on the horizon. Excitedly and almost organically, we offer alphabet magnets on the fridge, trace letters together in the sandbox, and practise writing first names.
And then we stop. As formal education begins and kids graduate, younger and younger, from board books to tablets, handwriting stops being a “natural” part of their lives. Fewer and fewer classroom activities centre on handwriting and drawing skills, and for middle- and high-schoolers there might be no handwriting at all in a day at school.
While it’s true that handwriting skill might be less necessary now than in pre-technological times, it’s not redundant knowledge. Non-digital communication skills are practical in case of necessity, but they’re also a part of our history and culture.
Not to mention that handwriting practise is a powerful tool in your child’s literacy journey. If you want to help your child read, write and communicate as effectively as possible, the benefits of handwriting make a convincing argument for regular practise.
Handwriting Makes Better Writers
Handwriting is a powerful tool for developing fluency in writing, spelling and reading. A review of the research on handwriting shows quite conclusively that handwriting fluency, or automaticity, contributes to writing significantly and consistently, and contributes to writing quality and fluency. Those who practise writing will improve the quality of the content they produce, and will tend to write more.
You might wonder, why not just type? Surely most jobs will require computers not paper and pen? Well, it seems handwriting performance can contribute to keyboarding ability, too, particularly when it comes to speed. While keyboarding is an important modern skill, writing offers cognitive benefits that go well beyond simple communication. Interestingly, cursive writing has been shown to have particular and exceptional cognitive and literacy benefits for children and teens.
As we have also seen in reading research, writing practice and skill begets writing practice and skill. Incorporating handwriting practice into your child’s routine is a smart way to support their literacy journey!
Real-Life Ways to Practise Handwriting at Home
For Younger Children
Younger kids can practise letter formation, using different tools to create letters and words, and writing in single words or short sentences. Keep activities brief and light, and offer writing projects frequently.
- fill in their own events and classes on the family wall calendar
- write weekly postcards to a distant or elderly relative
- trace letters in sand or with water on rocks
- keep a chalkboard at their height for notes to each other
- practise letters and writing with paints during craft time
- play simple word games in restaurants or in the car (try a kid-friendly variation on the traditional but offensive ‘hangman’ game)
- draw comic books or create picture books together
For Older Children
Older kids in this digital age might be resistant to handwriting practice, so offer writing as a strategy for better learning, for stress relief, and as a functional alternative to screens. Instead of pushing handwriting practice, provide opportunities for your child to deepen their appreciation for handwriting, even if just as a means to a practical end.
- write the weekly grocery list
- settle in for a silly game of Mad Libs
- share a back-and-forth journal for writing notes to each other
- keep a pen pal or write to an elderly relative
- write traditional thank-you cards after an event
- write rough drafts by hand before committing to digital copy
- write point-form notes to study before tests
- keep a gratitude journal
Does your child practise handwriting and/or cursive writing? Which writing activities do you incorporate in their routine? Share your ideas below!