How to Help Your Child with Messy Handwriting

Recap: Last article, we discussed the reason why young children have messy handwriting—they’re  still developing what educators call “fine motor skills”—the smaller, more complex movements. Their brains are still learning how to perfect the hand muscle movements they need to make in order to write neatly, tie shoelaces and a hundred other complex tasks.

So how do we help them? What we want to do is to give them tasks that would help them master those smaller movements and strengthen those muscles.  And the good news is, you don’t need consultants and expensive equiment to do it!  Here we go:

  • play doughplay dough—the kneading, pinching and rolling motions do wonderful things to help with the handwriting!  (Try to use non-toxic play dough for safer play—does anyone have good home-made dough recipes to share? :))
  • stickers—give your child appropriately-sized stickers (not too small if it’s a four year old child, or he will not be able to handle it).  It is an excellent way for him to practise the control it takes to get the sticker off the sheet and onto a surface… and enjoy it too!
  • threading beads—this is a favourite, especially with girls.
  • lego blocks—only do this with children who are old enough to play with it safely!  You don’t want a choking incident!
  • …and many more. Even tasks like unscrewing bottle caps or sorting buttons are good to work on those finger and hand movements.

Yes!  There are ways to improve weak points without making it a tedious negative experience.  And it all starts with understanding your child at his level.  Once you start there, you can work with him, not on him, and reach your shared goal together.  After all, every child needs a childhood rich in pleasant learning experiences… it lays the foundation for a life-long learner!

OK!  So now you know the facts, you tell me:  should we make a four, five, six year old practise more writing to make his handwriting better?

This is not to say that we don’t teach children how to form letters correctly.  Yes, they need to learn; and yes, they should have some regular practice to reinforce it.  But the rub-and-rewrite-till-you-get-it-perfect drills that many of us went through ourselves is NOT the way to go!  We know that by now, don’t we! :)

Righto, all the best to you!  Remember, nothing ever comes in an instant except 3-in-1 coffee… and even that can’t beat the real brew! ;) Slowly but surely wins the race!  Make it a fun learning journey!

Thank you for reading!  If this article helped you, feel free to share it!


2 thoughts on “How to Help Your Child with Messy Handwriting

  1. I wish my son’s teacher shared the same noble thoughts that you have :) the poor kid is 7 and is getting crucified for not writing a neat hand and is slow with his class work as he tries to write neatly :(

    • I’m sorry to hear that :( You are not alone! As a teacher, i would encourage you to remember that what you think of him carries more weight ultimately. Having understanding support at home would go a long way for him, so do your best to provide that! All the best!

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