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Handwriting Tips and Tools


ELA: Writing Study Skills & Tools Elementary School Strategy


Fine Motor Skills Visual Motor Speed Spatial Perception

Handwriting Tips and Tools

If your student has very messy handwriting

How To Apply It!

  1. If students have weaker motor skills they might write slower or messier resulting in trouble finishing on time or losing points because a teacher cannot understand their writing.
  2. Skywriting. Students need full recognition of letters and numbers to write legibly. If students need support with proper letter formation, the kinesthetic approach of skywriting, taught by a trained professional, might be beneficial.
  3. Posture: Adjust the desk and chair height to ensure the child is sitting comfortably with feet flat on the floor. Children should be able to sit up without leaning over or stretching to reach the paper.
  4. Slant Guide: The flat angled surface places the student's wrist and hand in an optimal position for writing and holding a pencil. The board situates the paper higher, which in turn promotes a more upright posture while sitting. Slant boards look like giant angled clip boards and sit atop a student's desk or table, roughly 12 x 12 inches in size. Some slant boards are collapsible, allowing for easier storage and transportation. However, it may be more convenient to have one for home and one for school.
  5. Pencils over Pens: Pencils give the student more resistance to keep a steady hand. It is also more responsive to pressure if a child needs to tighten or ease up on the amount of force. Crayons often require more force and pens might be slippery.
  6. Weighted Pencils: Weighted pencils or pencil weights increase sensory awareness. The properly distributed extra weight can help stabilize their hand, permit the pencil to press more firmly on the page, and increase the clarity of their writing. Be aware that using a cute pen with a dangling object at the end is likely to create more problems than solve because of the uneven weight distribution. You can buy pencil weights on Amazon.
  7. Thick Pencils and Pens: Writing tools that have thick barrels can help with grip. Broad points that can mask unsteadiness and build confidence. Thick or chunky pencils and crayons are best for younger, beginning writers. Some therapists use carpenter pencils, triangular in shape, to help students with grip. For older students our favorites are Sharpie fine points or Expresso medium point pens.
  8. Paper with Raised Lines: Use lined paper to write sentences. Paper with raised lines is a great tool that provides both visual and tactile cues to help students with letter and word size, as well as spacing. It will help students stay between the lines by providing little bumps so students have a tactile signal to stop their motions. The bump offers children immediate feedback about the correct size of the letters and helps motivate them to improve their writing.
  9. Tracing Paper: Tracing activities can help build confidence and motivation and the feel of proper letter formating. Read more here.
  10. Proofreading Checklist: Help students remember common handwriting mistakes, including dot is, cross ts, close all letters carefully, lower case letters should be half the size of upper case letters, etc. Get a printable checklist here.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Regardless of the source of a child's handwriting difficulties (fine motor, visual motor, attention, etc.), the earlier they are addressed the better. Even though handwriting is not as important as it was, difficulty with handwriting can affect academic performance. There will always be times when a student needs to complete an assignment by hand or take handwritten notes. Handwriting needs to be legible and students need to write efficiently so they can finish. Over time, unaddressed handwriting difficulties could interfere with a student's willingness to write and their overall writing growth.