A lot of people think that when a child can't write neatly that it is a problem with focus and effort. Years ago, handwriting was a focus in classrooms and neat handwriting was a paragon. Today, less emphasis is being made on handwriting. There are many opinions and school of thought on this one, but considering that writing itself is a monumental task, I believe that handwriting should be a separate and important focus. If children are able to write freely without feeling burdened by letter formation, the quality of their writing composition would be improved. I see children who struggle with letter formation, and these students usually struggle with all aspects of writing as well. It is embarrassing when your writing is illegible, and this leads to feelings of disdain towards writing itself.
A few tips for working on handwriting at home:
1. Keep it brief but impactful: If you work on one letter a day you are doing great! Kids wear out easily and we want to keep things positive. Never let them see your frustration.
2. Use the right pencil grip: There are many of these out there! buy a few and try them out to see what works for your child. It allows for holding the pencil with the perfect "tripod" grip while they build up finger strength.
3. Make sure you know the appropriate way to teach letter formation: Be careful that you know how the letters are formed. If you don't know then Handwriting Without Tears is a great program.
4. Always make sure they are in "handwriting position" before they write: Tripod grip, paper tilted, feet on floor, sit up straight, other hand holding the paper.
5. Try writing on a whiteboard or something fun: I like to use Boogie Boards, and mini white boards. It changes things up for the child instead of always writing on paper.
6. Lots of tracing: Tracing is a great way to get them to feel what it is like to form the letters before they do it on their own.
7. Use handwriting paper: You know the kind with the three lines.
7. If your child is really struggling, maybe try cursive: I know it sounds silly but cursive is much easier for children with writing disabilities. It requires less coordination since you are picking up the pencil less.
Check out the article written at understood.org to find out more about writing difficulties.