Handwriting Free & Easy

What Works!

Looking back over our homeschooling journey to graduation, I am grateful to recognise and promote some of the simple things that really worked!

You need NEVER buy a handwriting program to teach beautiful, functional handwriting.  I discovered a fantastic, simple method ~ and all my children have learnt to write cursive this way ~

Laminated handwriting charts and copywork

I created simple print and cursive handwriting charts.

I taught them the letter formation with simple demonstrations and oral step-by-step descriptions.  The kids spent 5 minutes daily tracing over the letters with a whiteboard marker and they learnt their letter formations within a week or so.  First the lower case, followed by upper case letters.  Finally combination of the upper case with its lower case partner.

Now, rather than spend a fortune on exercise books and tedious practice pages, we went straight on to copywork. We started with copying the memory verse for the week, or a sentence taken from a read aloud, or we simply used our Language Arts dictation as copywork.  I also made a whole selection of quotes from famous artists, or world leaders for older children ~ here are my free copywork pages. Once again, Charlotte Mason’s principles have worked!

They start by tracing over the letters on the laminated chart with a whiteboard marker and then work in pencil on nice wide-lined paper.  Draw a margin and start by drawing a head, body and tail (you’ll notice those little cats in the print chart) in the lines so that the child can see where to place and where to start each letter.

Read all my handwriting tips, step-by-step lesson ideas, relevant posts and free chart downloads ~ Handwriting Page, Print Handwriting, Cursive Handwriting

What they copy is not important at this stage because they are learning to master the physical, technical, fine motor work of handwriting.  The content just adds to the real purpose of writing.  Real sentences with capital letters, punctuation marks and words that convey meaning.

What is important is that this is functional handwriting.

It is real.

It is in context.

These factors are a wonderful motivation.  A young child is not merely filling exercise pages with patterns and repeated letters.  They are actually WRITING!  A young child can run and show dad a whole sentence that he wrote by himself!  What joy!

What is important is that you sit and watch the physical process and encourage your child as they learn.

  1. Look to make sure that they sit correctly.  For this short lesson, posture is vital!

    Booster cushions and feet supported

  2. Make sure that the seat height to table height is correct.  You may need to add a booster cushion or place a foot stool under swinging feet.  (Look at how I use a flexiband to support the legs and provide some movement stimulus.)
  3. See that they hold and grip the pencil correctly.  Train the right grip and reinforce with a soft rubber pencil grip if needs be.
  4. Use a suitable pencil – soft and yet sharp.
  5. Keep your lesson short and sweet.  It doesn’t matter how much is written, but how well each letter is formed.
  6. If your child is uncertain how to form the letter, pull the laminated chart closer and trace over the letter again before trying to write on paper.
  7. Repeat the same copywork daily.

Before long, maybe within a month or so, your child will simply refer to the chart for those odd letters they are unsure of, but they will be writing capital and lower case letters in the correct lines, with the correct size and shape as they do their copywork.  From this point on, they need to refine and polish their style.  I often asked my kids to put a star over their “best” or “favourite” letter or word.  Even on their worst days, (remember that fatigue, stress, illness affect handwriting) every child can still find one letter or word that came out right!

Finally let me encourage you to keep handwriting lessons to the copywork or dictation lessons.  Allow your child to develop their “own style” for narrations and other written work.  My eldest daughter had to forsake her totally perfect handwriting she used in all her work for a slightly looser, informal script when she reached high school.  She needed to work faster.  Her perfect handwriting slowed her down.  I don’t mind if my teens use print.  When it comes to formal assignments that need to marked by external markers, letters posted to real people, filling in official forms, etc., then neat, correct handwriting matters!

You can teach your child to write for free in short, simple lessons!

Please write and share your handwriting tips or ask questions in the comments below.

Blessings,

15 thoughts on “Handwriting Free & Easy

  1. My daughter is 4 and left-handed. Just wondering if you have any tips! My eldest was a breeze to teach writing, but my second isn’t showing much interest and finds writing awkward. Thanks dear lady!

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    • @Victoria, my eldest is a leftie! Her writing is the most perfect I have every seen! She always sits on the left side of another person at the table if she shares writing space. I re-bound all her spiral-bound work books on the right-hand side when she was little. Lefties figure out how to avoid the hand smudging over their newly written work, either by working below the work or around and above the work. Below is better, but sometimes they find it awkward. My daughter uses a slightly curved hand grip. Watch out for a “claw-like” curve though. As long as they hold the pencil with the correct fingers and thumb spacing and without too much stress and tension, they will be fine.

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      • Ah this gives me hope.🙂 Great idea to re-bind those workbooks. The smudging is a little frustrating for her, and she easily gives up. Did you teach handwriting to your eldest when she was 4, or wait until she was 5 or 6? Thanks Nadene.

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        • @Victoria, thanks for your kind comments. We started teaching print in about grade 1, when the kids were about 5. They often lead the way by showing writing readiness, by copying letters, pretending to ‘write’.
          If you see that your child is too stressed, frustrated or unwilling, leave formal handwriting lessons for a while and continue with pre-writing activities ~ such as finger games, playing with play dough, using pegs and elastic bands. You could also add more upper body physical strengthening ~ climbing the jungle gym, walking on hands doing “wheelbarrows”, hanging from monkey rings. Once a child’s physical strength matures, they will more easily cope with the handwriting skills they need to master. Blessings!

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          • Still working with my leftie! At the moment we have pencil grip mostly sorted, but she’s still finding writing really awkward. I’m trying to write left-handed so I can show her how to write below the letters. My own left-handed attempts look pretty bad.🙂

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          • @Victoria, such empathy in your struggles to write with your left hand … it reminds us as moms and teachers how much effort and practice neat handwriting requires! Keep your lessons short and sweet, but regular. In time, and as she matures, your daughter will master her handwriting. Blessings!

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  2. Thank you for this, it is so helpful! I feel so much better about handwriting now knowing that I do not have to buy a program since I already did pay for one and it was not working out. Of course, my daughter is 5 so I was not ready to push it but she loves practicing handwriting usually and was not as interested after I introduced that. I think this would be the best method for us. 🙂

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    • @Homeschool Crafts, usually you start to teach print from grade 0 or grade 1. Many young children want to write before this and love to trace over neatly printed letters and they can learn to copy simple circles and lines on really wide lined paper. Cursive is taught from about grade 3 and up, when children are 9 or 10 and have mastered print. Some children take a few years to master cursive. In homeschooling, you can be child-led and teach them when they are ready.

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  5. Hi! I am so excited – I just LOVE your blog. I can’t find a link to download the print handwriting chart. Is it possible o get that from you?

    Many thanks!

    Kirsty

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