Penmanship used to be a big part of basic education for children, but now it’s not considered very important and we’ve all seen the results. How many times have you gotten a hand written note and not been able to read it? This relegates lessons in good penmanship to parents who know how important it is for their child’s future. Unfortunately, kids are becoming more adept at the computer keyboard and texting on their phones. Here are some tips on 10 ways to teach your child to write in cursive.
- Squiggles – The whole idea of cursive writing is to create a word without the pen or pencil leaving the paper. Have your child start by practicing to write squiggles on a paper. This will get them used to the idea and the flow of cursive.
- Start big – Use big letters to start with. It takes time for kids to develop the fine motor skills to write small and tidy. Begin with big letters so they can learn the basics and refine their writing as they learn.
- Lined paper – It’s helpful for kids to have lined paper to begin with or they tend to get off track. Remember the sheets of paper with lines about an inch apart and dotted lines in the middle? You could purchase some or make it yourself for your child to practice on. If you have some sheets laminated, your child can practice with a non-permanent marker that can be wiped off.
- Give examples – Kids need examples to copy from so start by showing them what the cursive letters look like. Have them trace over the letters to begin with before trying to write them on their own. It helps if you can be a good example yourself, so if you have poor penmanship, a little practice beforehand will help you teach them.
- Single letters – Start with single letters of the alphabet in upper and lower case. Have them practice each letter in cursive one at a time until they master it. Do a few letters each day until you get through the whole alphabet.
- Repetition – Have your child copy each letter over and over. Each time you move on to a new letter, make sure he/she still remembers the previous ones they learned. Repetition helps them develop the small muscles and coordination of their fingers.
- Baby steps – Start with single letters and move on to small words. It takes baby steps to learn how to connect the letters properly. Once they learn how to do small words, move on to longer ones.
- Supervision – Don’t just give your child a lesson to work on and leave them alone. It takes close supervision to help kids learn the proper way to form the letters and words in cursive. Monitor their practice so they don’t start getting off track or start forming bad writing habits.
- Cursive before printing? – Some believe children should learn to write in cursive first before printing. They feel that once their writing habits are fixed into printing that it’s difficult for them to relearn the cursive methods. It may depend on the individual child so I would advise parents to do whichever they feel works best for them.
- Patience – Above all, teaching your child to write in cursive takes patience. Whether they already learned to print first or are starting out with cursive, it takes time and lots of practice to develop good penmanship. Make sure your child knows you’re willing to stick with them until they get the hang of it.
Good penmanship may seem like a lost art, but it doesn’t have to be. Making sure your child has good basic writing skills is so important. The way they write reflects on them personally; not only with their peers, but with their teachers and future employers. Good cursive handwriting helps with each child’s self confidence as they go through school and beyond. Of course each individual has a different aptitude for handwriting and many of us fall into bad habits as we get older. The best you can do for your child is to give them a good start to optimize their chances of maintaining sound writing skills.