“I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education.”
Mahatma Gandhi wrote more than 500 letters to children and students and over a quarter of those letters had one piece of advice to them: He asked children to improve their handwriting. It’s said that the father of the nation regretted not having good handwriting skills like his peers in London and elsewhere.
Good handwriting or the lack of it is one of the biggest concerns parents see in their children worldwide. This is more so in India where good handwriting is seen as a sign of growth. In India, good handwriting is seen as a reflection of a person’s personality.
A Person Is As Good As His Handwriting
People that write haphazardly with spelling errors are known to be lazy, lethargic, and idle in real life in their lives. A person with good handwriting is always seen as confident, suave, and active. He is known as a person who takes initiatives and the first-step in whatever he does and wherever he goes. Good handwriting also boosts confidence.
According to a report in British newspaper Daily Mail, 5000 personality traits are linked to how we write and can indicate many things about our lives including diseases.
Why Good Handwriting is Important
The fact is all children are illegible in the first few years of their schooling lives and need to be told to write well. While some children have a natural affinity for good handwriting and will pick up after a few training sessions, some need to be trained really hard and despite all the hard work by parent and teachers, some may still have handwriting that’s at best mediocre.
Here are some reasons why good handwriting is important.
Computers and mobiles have become commonplace now and most kids today know how to use these devices even before they can hold pencils. According to researchers, the brain works differently when we write by hand versus typing it on keyboards or mobiles. It’s now known very well that writing improves memory and helps students to retain whatever they have learned. It also helps them learn effectively.
- Engages Body
When children write, they engage their bodies more holistically. There’s something really different about writing and it helps children in more ways than meets the eye.
- Fosters Imagination and Creativity
Writing enables children to be imaginative and creative. For example, when they write, they become fluent, flexible, original, and elaborative i.e. they write in greater detail. When children write in detail, their nimble thought process thinks of many things around the same time.
- Enhances Critical Thinking
When children or for that even adults write they are using their critical thinking skills. They collect information, analyze, observe, and reflect to write a piece of work. Learning to form thoughts and write them down in sentences is an important learning skill and children when trained well, can do better in their careers later.
- Builds Self-Confidence
Children that have good handwriting have better self-confidence. In fact, according to graphologists, people who study handwriting, people with good handwriting can express themselves a lot better than others. All great people— whether in academia, science, business, or even politics, have good handwriting as their brain processes information in a much better way than it does for people with bad handwriting. Another example you can see is of teachers. All teachers have such amazing handwriting because they are confident.
- Creates Better Readers
Writing, reading, and thinking are related. Writing helps children to learn vocabulary, words, sentences, spellings, and stories and all these help them in becoming a better reader.
- Leads Them to Success
Good handwriting leads children to success. To put it succinctly, good handwriting is a sure shot route to academic and professional success.
How to Improve Handwriting in Kids
Before understanding why children have poor handwriting, it is important to know why children write bad: firstly it could be just that they are wired to write bad or secondly it could be a combination of one or most of these reasons: holding the pencil in a wrong way, improper letter formation, poor letter sizing, struggling to copy words, words spacing, difficulty in reading, bad pencil quality, little to no pressure on pencil, or even problem understanding and writing upper and lower case letters.
Hold Pencil The Right Way
There are many ways children hold pencils. Children aged 1-1 ½ years must hold a pencil in a cylindrical way. Children aged between 2 and 3 years must hold the pencil in a downward position with their thumb and index finger on the pencil. Children that are between 3 and 4 must hold the pencil in a modified tripod way while children older than 4 must hold the pencil in a tripod manner.
The most important thing is to hold the pencil correctly. While children find it easy to use color pencils or crayons to color a drawing book, they don’t have the patience to write.
In order to help them write, you must give them a good quality pencil with a thick and dark lead.
You can also use pencil grips to help your child hold a pencil. Pencil grips are not very common in India but may be available at stationery stores. It helps in reducing fatigue and preventing muscle cramps, which may help to improve handwriting.
- Strengthen the Top Body
The handwriting of most children will suffer if the body positioning isn’t right. If children are stretching their hands too much to write, it will hurt their hand and shoulder and if they too close to the writing material, their eyes and body will suffer. You need to show them the right posture to sit while writing. Additionally, you must encourage your child to strengthen their upper body through sports or exercise. These will strengthen and stabilize their shoulder and free the hand muscles.
3.. Teach Italic Cursive
Some children have a hard time writing by using regular cursive handwriting. Teach them to write in italics. Watch these three Youtube videos to learn to write in italic.
Books to teach italic are available in stationary or book stores near your home.
- Strengthen Fine Motor Skills
In order to get good handwriting, you need to improve your child’s fine motor skills and this includes strengthening their hand and finger dexterity. This will help them get a good grip on the pencil. It will also give them the endurance to write for long.
Encourage your child to write. Sit by their side and see how they write. Let them write the way they want and you can pinpoint the mistakes after they are done writing. Do not interfere while they are writing as it demotivates them.
Have patience. Children take time to learn any task. They have the skills and potential to do well. It all depends on how they are raised and treated. Children have less attention span and are always interested in one task or the other and in order to have their attention, you need to build a culture of writing. Keep them away from computers and mobiles and ask them to write anything, maybe even a newspaper report so that they have something to write.
You must all have heard “Practice Makes Man Perfect.” This is very true to children. The more they write, the better they get at writing. however, you must keep the proportion of writing work smaller so that they don’t feel monotonous.