Mixed up handwriting.. fun ideas to help with penmanship? - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > Mixed up handwriting.. fun ideas to help with penmanship?
Attila the Honey's Avatar Attila the Honey 10:51 AM 04-29-2011

My almost 2nd grader has really really rough writing skills.  I am not too concerned yet but I want to encourage her to work on it in fun ways that don't involve a workbook.  By writing I mean penmanship, not creative writing. 

I have her writing four sentences a day (at least) in her daily journal, but she mixes capitals and lowercase letters and doesn[t put spaces between the words.  She enjoys writing in her journal but if and when I correct her (gently!, just showing her the correct way) she usually gets upset and says she can do it however she wants in her own journal.  When I correct her if she's writing a story or a letter to someone she usually cries or just stops working on it altogether.  If I don't help her whatever she is writing is usually completely illegible. I am at a loss here.

She is showing interest in cursive so my husband wants us to just forget printing, let her do it her own way, and teach cursive better than we taught printing (with something like "Handwriting Without Tears").  


Any ideas?

umsami's Avatar umsami 06:08 AM 05-03-2011

Have you thought about doing some form drawing exercises? (Waldorf)  If you look here, you can get some ideas: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/publications-for-grades-1-through-5/form-drawing-for-beginners.html



Another thing would just to make things silly... so, can you do this writing exercises all in capitals really big in purple?  What about this exercise? Let's do it all in lowercase, medium sized, in red.


Other thoughts would be some sort of calligraphy set.  I think Klutz has a book on fun ways to write... maybe this? http://www.amazon.com/Lettering-Crazy-Quirky-Style-Klutz/dp/157054428X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=arts-crafts&qid=1304424492&sr=8-1

MomtoDandJ's Avatar MomtoDandJ 10:12 AM 05-03-2011

I agree with Umsami -- maybe some tracing worksheets that have her follow different shapes and lines that are spaced apart would be helpful for getting her into the routine of putting spaces between letters.  And if the tracing is just shapes and lines, she probably wouldn't associate it with "writing letters" which it seems like maybe she doesn't want your advice on right now (kids - go figure!).


Here are some tracing worksheets we've used with my son and they've helped a lot with his accuracy.

NaturalFamiLEA's Avatar NaturalFamiLEA 08:29 AM 05-04-2011

Have you considered using Handwriting Without Tears? It's a fun program :)

I Fly's Avatar I Fly 12:56 PM 05-05-2011

I wouldn't worry about it too much.  I might sit there with my journal and write four sentences, too.  Then we could trade and read each other's.  I also might sometimes ask my child to copy a sentence into the journal - any sentence meaningful to them.  On those occasions, I might point out that what we are copying has a space between the words or whatever.  I think the issues you mention are things the kids will iron out as they progress and start noticing other writing.  What you don't want to do is make her resent/hate writing.  The plus side of a journal is that it is personal.  No recipient will be judging her/you, and it will be a great way to look back and see natural progress.  


Some fun ways to just practice forming letters is to write them in the air really big, write them on each other's backs and see if you can guess the letter, painting on concrete/rocks with water (dries quickly, mistakes just go away!), or making big letters in sand, and just plain chalk on the sidewalk fun.


Marsupialmom's Avatar Marsupialmom 02:09 PM 05-05-2011

If this is in her journal let it go.  That is rough draft of thoughts.  If you push to hard you will kill her love of writing.  


You work on papers she is polishing. Capitalzation is a grammar issue. Spacing can be worked on by creating a spacer.  I would take creativeness out of this all together and start with basic copy work. 

Ariana Zeqiri's Avatar Ariana Zeqiri 07:50 AM 12-03-2011

check out the  movie taare zammen paar it is a really nice movie... it shows what kind of problem does your girl have... it will really help you... in english the movie means like stars on earth it will help you 100% sure

Ariana Zeqiri's Avatar Ariana Zeqiri 07:50 AM 12-03-2011

check out the  movie taare zammen paar it is a really nice movie... it shows what kind of problem does your girl have... it will really help you... in english the movie means like stars on earth it will help you 100% sure

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 08:22 AM 12-03-2011

I was much older and never had handwriting difficulties, but I *loved* learning calligraphy, especially after reading the Lord of the Rings.  I loved copying the Elvish script and the dwarf runes and especially the Book-of-Kells-style writing commonly associated with the series.  I even loved inventing my own twirly-swirly-curlicues.  Not exactly direct learning experience, but it reminds me a bit of the diction exercise where you clamp a pencil in your teeth and try to speak clearly, then take out the pencil and speak again--voila!!  So you go all loopy and crazy with the writing and take the skills you've learned back to plain writing.  Voila!!  (Hopefully....)

ikesmom's Avatar ikesmom 11:25 AM 12-03-2011

I wouldn't worry about it at 2nd grade. She is still so young. 


When I was searching for ways to improve my son's handwriting skills I came across some interesting info about the process of writing.








One thing that has helped a lot is giving my son a checklist or rubric so I don't have to repeat or nag. You can make your own rubric 


with only a few goals on it. Try to read it together before the lesson. When she is finished with the lesson tell her to read the rubric herself and check it with her sentences. I would just tape the rubric to the wall or the fridge.


She will get the message that she needs to space her words, use capitals, ect. every time , but hopefully it won't feel so critical to her.


I don't know if she will be able to really check her sentences to the rubric at first, but it is not a completed task that I would be after here. I would focus on the process of getting the message across in a positive way.





wissa19's Avatar wissa19 05:51 PM 12-13-2011

All good ideas...For her journal I might just let it go.  Take the skills one at a time.  Pick a letter she confuses and focus on it then move on to something else that needs work.  You might just be overwhelming her making her feel like she can't get anything right.  If she has trouble writing as in forming the letters, I don't know that moving on to cursive will solve the problem.  Cursive is much harder to master that print.  She may need to work on activities that can help strengthen her fingers.


Forspacingyoucouldwriteasentencelikethisonherpaperandaskhertoreadit.  It shouldn't take long for her to get the idea that she needs to put a little space between things. You could also work on activities outside of writing that focus on spacial awareness.


Remember just as you pointed out there is a difference between writing and composition.  You don't want to stifle her creativity, so make she gets to "write" just for the fun of it.


I 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Handwriting without tears.

tankgirl73's Avatar tankgirl73 08:02 PM 12-13-2011



Cursive is much harder to master that print


Actually, that's not true!  :)


Many countries still introduce cursive *before* printing, and that's what used to be true here as well.  There's lots of info out there about the reasons why printing became the 'first' script kids learn -- but it's not because it's actually easier. 


In fact, cursive is easier to master for young kids.  Printing - especially the "ball and stick" style commonly taught - requires picking up the pencil over and over, it's a very choppy thing.  Cursive is one motion with the pencil, you don't have to reset and find the right spot 3 times per letter.  Cursive also practically eliminates spacing problems, because letters within words are connected.  Common letter reversals are also much rarer, because the construcion of the letter is different.  In 'ball and stick', b and d are identical... write a ball, write a stick, just put one on the other side.  In cursive though, d starts with the c-loop, and b starts with the l-loop.  Totally different.


I'm doing cursive first with my daughter.  As it turns out she spontaneously learned printed letters by herself, just from looking at books and videos etc.  But when we "do" writing practice, she's perfectly capable of forming the cursive letters on her own, and can do a whole word when tracing.  She's 4.


If you do decide to stick with just improving the manuscript printing for now, though, then may I suggest going for something like Penny Gardner's Italics Handwriting course, or d'Nealian print style?  Unlike ball-and-stick, the letters are formed by single strokes, like cursive.  The switch to cursive in these styles is actually just adding the connectors - nothing really changes about the formation of the letters themselves.


Also, I completely agree about letting it go in her journal.  And that capitalization is a grammar issue (and commonly mixed up well beyond this age, no worries), not a handwriting issue as much.  If she resists working on it separately, don't stress about it for now.  Relax and let her enjoy writing on her own until she wants to improve it.  But I would still try a few things, to see if she'll resist or not.  ;)  I'd suggest doing some copywork, like in Charlotte Mason style.  Penny Gardner's book has lots of info and samples and tips for copywork.  Lots of other great resources for copywork out there as well.  :)

wissa19's Avatar wissa19 06:54 AM 12-14-2011

Of course, what works for one child may not work for another.   My advice about cursive came from some very good OTs I have worked with.  Of course, most of my experience has come from working with children with LD.  If they are mixing up their letters in writing and reading then adding cursive seems to really confuse them.


Just an added thought on Grammar.  Kids don't like to have their own work corrected.  However, they love to correct an adults.  So sometimes just writing out a sentence and having them find your errors is a lot of fun.  This can be used for handwriting too...oops I didn't space between those words. It will eventually start to show in their own work.