Do you have an older child that still struggles with handwriting? I do. Mini has been taught cursive writing since he was three years old at pre-school and school and he has always found it a challenge. So I am delighted to be working with STABILO in highlighting their pen licence and these handwriting tips.
Handwriting Tips for Older Children
Does your child’s school operate a pen licence? Mini’s school does, but at 10 he still doesn’t have his. This is not something to be embarrassed about, but it is something that we have been working on. Mini has been taught cursive writing from three years old and has not found it easy at all. Up to 50% of his day his spend writing and even in today’s technological age children still use handwriting a lot.
Last year we reached a huge impasse with Mini. He hated writing. He refused to do homework. His thoughts were if the teacher cannot understand my writing, well then I am just not going to bother. The thing is making a few changes has really made a big impact on Mini’s handwriting and therefore, his happiness at school.
Finding the right pencil for him was key to improving not only his legibility but also his speed of writing and his comfort too. Mini’s go to pencil at the moment is a STABILO EASYergo1.4 pencil. It is specifically designed to ensure a comfortable writing position which encourages the dynamic tripod grip and when he uses it we have noticed that he holds the pencil looser (the ends of his fingers do not go white) and he can write for longer.
Tools for helping with handwriting
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Finding the best pencil or pen: handwriting should be easy and comfort plays a big part in that. The earlier you can get your child to adopt the correct pencil grip the better. Trust me, it has been a real challenge to change Mini’s! STABILO (UK Link/US Link) has a wonderful selection of products from pencils to pens. My best friends five-year-old is a leftie and he uses them too
Wedge Cushion (UK Link/US Link) – It is amazing just how much a simple wedge cushion can impact a child’s writing. The wedge gently tilts the pelvis forward putting a natural and neutral curve back into the spine to correct poor posture and encourage us to sit up straight. Improving the quality of sitting really impacted Mini’s handwriting. In addition, the bumpy surface of the wedge provides feedback and helped with Mini’s fidgeting.
Paper – Try different handwriting papers to see which works best for your child. We found that a more graphical type paper worked for Mini. it allowed him to visualise the spaces between letters and more importantly between words making his handwriting much more legible. Even if the letters in a word are messy, if one word is separate from another, it is automatically easier to read. You can also find handwriting practice sheets and handwriting tips on the STABILO Website.
When your child is older it is often the motivation that is lacking rather than an issue with fine motor skills, but it can help to work on them too. Here are some ways to get your child working the muscles that help with handwriting. One of my friends Coleen is an occupational therapist and she has some amazing tools for working on handwriting with kids of all ages.
Fine motor skills for older kids
- Start by making small sausages out of playdough or salt dough by rolling it with the thumb, index and middle fingers (sometimes called the tripod).
- Move on from sausages to making small balls of our play dough or salt dough by rolling it in three fingers.
- Making balls out of newspaper, just by scrunching in in each hand.
- Intricate crafts such as stringing beads, origami, hama beads, embroidery, hand sewing, crocheting or knitting.
- Board games such as Pick Up Sticks, Operation, Jenga, marbles, Tiddlywinks and Rapidough.
- Build lego, play with looms bands, use chopsticks, decorate cakes and do colouring.
I want to say that with a lot of hard work and practice Mini’s handwriting has come along amazingly over the last year with these handwriting tips. I wish I had trusted my instincts and raised the issue with the school sooner so that we could have all put the tools in place earlier rather than just accept that boys take longer to learn neat handwriting, but all was not lost and he is a lot more confident and hopefully on the way to gaining his pen licence.
Schools can download class packs of STABILO Pen Licences for free and each licence comes with a money off voucher for parents to use in WHSmith on their child’s first pen.