Struggling with Handwriting
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Is handwriting difficult for your children? Do they complain of pain in their hand after only writing a sentence or two? Do they have trouble expressing their thoughts on paper but have no problem verbally sharing them with you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this post is for you.

When my son was younger, he would talk a mile a minute, sharing all kinds of stories and new facts he was learning. Around the end of first grade, I noticed that he still couldn't write a simple sentence, even though his reading and comprehension levels were rising quickly.

I sat down, tried to figure out what the disconnect was, and realized it was his hands. He was often complaining of hand pain after writing a short sentence. He pressed hard into the paper, often breaking his pencils when he tried to write. His handwriting was not terrible, but he couldn't write very much at one time.

I didn't want to hold him back in first grade since he was ready for second-grade material, but I needed to figure out how to get him to write small enough and long enough to meet the requirements of second-grade work.

We continued using the BJU Press Homeschool first-grade handwriting curriculum for another year. BJU Press Handwriting's font, which is called "PreCursive," has been very helpful for my children. Many letters are formed using only one stroke. If you grew up using a more traditional handwriting font, as I did, you might remember struggling to form all of the "ball and stick" letters, such as b, d, p, and q. Even writing a "m" or "n" requires more than one stroke.

Why is it important to have a more simplified letter that doesn't require you to start and stop in the middle of the process? Consider the child who is struggling with his or her pencil grip or spacing between and within letters. As soon as that pencil leaves the paper, you have to begin the process of getting the spacing, slant, and grip just right so that the completed letter flows together nicely. That can cause a lot of frustration. I love that many of the letters my children write as beginners are simple to form.

Another reason we have done well with BJU Press Handwriting is the length of each assignment. As hands are still growing and strengthening, it is important not to force your child to write too much. We found the workbook pages to be just the right amount of practice.

One crucial detail to watch is how your child is gripping their pencil. We tried many different pencil grips. The one that benefited my child most was a soft cushion that wouldn't allow him to squeeze the pencil so hard. There are so many out there, so try a few to be sure you find a good fit for your child and their particular needs.

A crucial step that many kids are missing in this age of tablets and technology is time to build their hand and finger muscles. Some of our favorite hand and finger strengthening activities were:
  • Playing with putty- pro tip: hide a marble in it and have your child find it and pull it out, then have them bury it and hide it for you! We love Theraputty, which can be found on Amazon.
  • Making and playing with play dough
  • Making cookies - stirring the batter and forming them is a great workout!
  • Tweezer play- move items from one container to another using plastic play tweezers, not the sharp metal kind, the bigger plastic kind. Have siblings race to see who can transfer the most items in a set amount of time or race the clock yourself!
  • Coloring- don't underestimate the importance of this time-tested fine motor skill activity. So many children skip coloring or coloring on a tablet, thus losing the hand and fingerwork necessary for coloring nicely and staying in the lines. I can't tell you how many crayons were broken before he learned to color much more gently, which translated to writing more gently. When he wrote more gently, he had far less fatigue and pain in his hand.

Want to learn more about the BJU Press Handwriting materials? Check out our YouTube Handwriting playlist that shows you a look inside the books and ask a HomeWorks by Precept Consultant about recommendations and special pricing for homeschooling families.

I hope this post has been helpful to you in your journey to educate your child at home! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. As always, be sure to connect with your local HomeWorks by Precept Consultant. We are here for you with homeschool support year-round.

Meet the Author

Sharon Huizinga - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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