Recently, I was filling out forms for my son to test for his driver’s permit at the DMV. The woman helping me commented on my nice handwriting. We briefly chatted about how handwriting may be becoming a lost art. Later on that day, I thought about that in light of the virtual learning that has been going on for nearly a year. To my surprise, cursive handwriting had been on the rise over the past decade, from 14 to 21 states making it a requirement. The article where I found this information was updated in 2020, but I wonder if it was before most schools were shut down due to COVID-19. My guess would be that there is a lot less handwriting happening now more than ever.
The digital age has numerous benefits, and has certainly made our lives easier. I don’t know what I’d do without our digital luxuries, although I am likely part of the last generation who can remember life without it. With that said, is handwriting still important in this day and age? You bet it is! There are numerous studies and heaps of information out there about the benefits of handwriting. From increasing memory, comprehension, and recall skills, to enhancing creativity and focus, handwriting can even aid in combating anxiety, dyslexia, and ADHD. Common Core developers must have missed that bit of information when they decided handwriting did not rank in their standards.
Handwriting tips and ideas for all ages.
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Getting ready to write
Of course, ages vary widely when children begin to write. You will notice when they begin to show interest by making scribbles and lines. Give them fun opportunities to show off and enhance their skills! We’ve used things from play-doh to pudding to practice fine motor skills. I found this awesome list of out of the box ideas to practice that are sure to please any kid! Be sure to read to the end to see her #1 tip! A couple of our past favorites are a magnetic tracing board, and a magnetic maze board. I like that there are no small pieces to keep up with, and they both fantastic tools for fine motor skills, letter recognition, and early letter formation.
When your child shows readiness for writing, you will want to grab a set of these Alaphabet Cards. These double sided cards are so versatile!
The cards are great for learning letters visually and learning how to write letters. Included are different ways the cards can be used, as well as games to play with them. Many parents hole punch them and put on a key ring for easy transport. Number cards are available too!
Ready to write
There is so much curricula out there, it can be difficult to sort through! Instead of becoming overwhelmed, just start with some fun handwriting paper to help understand sizing and placement. I believe this really helps visualize foundations in letter formation. When beginning to write, a tool I really wished I would have started using earlier are pencil grips. To this day, my teenage son still holds his pencil wonky. I notice that he has to put in more effort than what’s needed because the pencil hold is slightly off.
I have used my share of handwriting curriculum – Handwriting Without Tears, BJU Handwriting, A Reason for Handwriting, and possibly a couple more! Rainbow Resource has a fantastic comparison chart that is a great help when rowing though the sea of options. Remember to be consistent. Just a few minutes a day is all you need to practice, whether it be through workbooks, sidewalk chalk, or other hands on activities.
Some say beginning with cursive writing is easier than teaching the traditional “ball and stick” method first. I don’t have one preference over the other, except to take the time to teach it at some point. Cursive writing has several benefits, and something everyone needs to learn. Many of the workbooks I listed above, have cursive workbooks available. A favorite series that offers both print or cursive is Draw Write Now. (Books 5-8 are now available from the publisher in cursive, but any of the books can be used to teach any writing style). These books combine art instruction with handwriting practice, all while incorporating history and science instruction along the way. They are non consumable, so you can use them again with other children.
Speaking of using again, Usborne offers dozens of Wipe Clean Books. Colorful, engaging, and of course reusable, these have been a customer favorite for quite some time! The one pictured is the only cursive one, but check out the whole series! There are so many, ranging from mazes, to math, and more!
Extra handwriting practice for the older child and adults
I felt both my kids still needed practice, and workbooks for the older kid range are not as plentiful as they are for the younger crowd. One workbook that we used and generally liked is Wacky Sentences. The emoji on the cover that caught my eye, as they were all the rage at the time. It turns out, it is one of the best, inexpensive things I’ve purchased! It begins with tracing wacky sentences, then copying without tracing, and ending with rewriting printed sentences in cursive. Another option for older kids is Perfect Reading Beautiful Handwriting. Read my full review to find out more. I even used it myself to dabble in calligraphy!
We suspended handwriting practice in middle school. Now that I’m nearing the end of my own post, I believe it is something we will incorporate back into our homeschool! A few ideas are copywork (I started copying Bible verses myself this year), handwriting lists instead of using apps, coloring books, journaling, and old fashioned letter writing! There’s something special about the uniqueness and individuality of a person’s writing that will never be replaced with today’s technology.
Handwriting is something that can be practiced at any age or stage . You don’t need expensive curriculum, you don’t have to be a school teacher, or an expert. Keep it fun, keep it creative, and practice, practice, practice!
National Handwriting Day dates back to 1977, and falls on John Hancock’s birthday. Hancock is likely the most iconic scribe in US history, thanks to his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence. Use this day to practice your “John Hancock”, write a letter, copy a favorite Bible verse or song lyric, or just doodle. Last, check out this infographic to find out what your handwriting says about you!