We just got in these two new products from Clairefontaine that we special ordered weeks ago, specifically for handwriting and great for kids, and along with so much great interest from the recent Globe & Mail article on cursive handwriting, I thought I would share some tips on teaching your child handwriting. Seyes, or French-ruled paper has been pretty popular ever since we started carrying it - with people looking to improve their handwriting, people looking to learn, calligraphers. If you're not sure on how to get started with Seyes-ruled paper, I wrote a blog post on using it here. The tricky thing about the Seyes ruled paper is not only are there so many lines, they are also pretty close together. If you read my post on improving your handwriting (as an adult), you'll know I think it's easier to learn and master handwriting by practising larger first, especially if you're not quite at the stage where fiddling with smaller o's is working for you. We just received in a larger sized Seyes ruled paper in two formats: loose leaf and in an A4 notebook. This is the same Seyes ruling proportionally, except about 25% bigger. This is also, of course, perfect for kids. If they're ready to move on to more precise cursive, or a bit more of a challenge, help them learn how to write "French-styled" cursive. If you're looking for reasons to teach your child handwriting, you can check them out here, but I suspect you're already convinced, or you would be here. Here are a few tips on helping your kid learn cursive handwriting:
- Go to your local bookstore, or a place that sells materials to teachers, like Scholar's Choice, and pick up a workbook on cursive writing. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend one over another, as cursive handwriting isn't too complicated - just look for one that gives lots of room for practise. You can get a special notebook for your kids to practise writing stories or copy out sentences on separately.
- Get your child a special pen, maybe one that they pick out on their own. Even if you're a traditionalist for blue inks in thank you notes, maybe your kids can still practise in green or purple or pink. If they can only write with this pen to practise their cursive handwriting, it may be an incentive to practise.
- Have everything set up in one place, or in a box, so when you're all finally sitting down to practise, you don't have to go hunting for that pencil sharpener or more worksheets.
- Consistency is key - better 15 minutes a day, or every other day, than 2 hours a week. This also has the advantage of not making it turning it into a crazy two hour writing session where you all come out like zombies.
- Watch them form the letters, rather than just looking at the final product. The letters may look good, but it can be hard to tell sometimes if they're forming their letters in one stroke (properly), as opposed to breaking them up, and joining them up separately.
- An occasional treat, like practising cursive handwriting at a cafe with a hot chocolate, may be something to keep the learning fun.
- I give out stickers, both for completing a section, but also smaller stickers to acknowledge a group of letters or words that are particularly well done. Kids need some incentive for doing the work, but also for doing it well, which has the added bonus of incentivizing them to learn what is good.
- As much as learning should be fun, there are some things, like multiplication tables and also cursive writing, that just need to be practised. While you shouldn't become a drill tyrant, sometimes your child just needs to put in the hours to develop that muscle memory.
- Lead by example with your own handwriting, or at the very least, show them what they're aiming for and why it's important. Remember, you're teaching them a skill that can be helpful for the rest of their life, and they should know that too.
We just had our Children's Handwriting Class earlier this afternoon, which was a lot of fun! We had a few kids come over to the shop and I was a bit more prepared this time with some folders and worksheets and my favourite stickers. I learned about pet hamsters and new teachers for the school year, and the kids practised some cursive writing in purple and green and pink ink. Inspired by kids learning cursive writing, of course I think about all you adults out there. We do offer calligraphy classes, but I'm more talking about 'regular' handwriting for taking notes at the office or writing a letter to your grandmother. We sometimes get customers who come in to get a fountain pen because they have an interest in improving their handwriting, and so having the right tools is important. For a lot of us, we sometimes think we'd like to improve our handwriting (we'd like to lose weight, we'd like to clean out the garage, we'd like to...), but we just haven't found that perfect starting point. When people ask how to improve their handwriting, the short answer is: there is no magic - it's just practice, practice, practice. Seeing a group of kids in front of me, admittedly some more eagerly than others, picking up their pens to practise their e's and i's and t's over and over is a great reminder that handwriting is a skill that can be learned at any age. In case you needed some encouragement, I thought I would put together some general tips to learning cursive writing or just improving your handwriting in general.
- Find a pen you like. You could even have a dedicated pen for this purpose, so it becomes a treat to practise your handwriting.
- Get a notebook that you can use just for your practice. I find larger A4 sized notebooks are good because you have lots of room for your hand and wrist to get full lines and sentences in. By having a notebook or even a binder of pages, you can also see your own progress.
- Seyes ruled paper is great, but if that's not your thing, graph paper is also good. This helps you form consistently sized letters. Write large (rather than your current size), so you can get a better view of how you are forming your letters and compare it to how you should be forming your letters. Finding graph paper or even writing on every other line may help you to do this.
- Write slowly. Take your time forming your letters correctly - if you just practise the same way you're currently writing, then you probably won't see too much improvement or change.
- Try not to grip the pen so hard, which I know can be difficult when you're trying to focus at the same time. The harder you squeeze your pen, the more jagged and jerky your letters become, and the more difficult it is to create flowing letters.
- Go to your local library and get a physical book with samples of cursive writing and how to correctly form the letters. I'd like to do a separate post on the resources out there that are the most helpful, but I think I need a bit more time to try them out myself, and also maybe take a few photos so you can see what's in the pages. You can find a lot on the internet, especially videos, but it's nice to have a paper reference to look back and forth at, without having to rewind to see what direction the strokes are in. Also a paper book is nice for a cafe visit ;)
- Copy out your favourite poems, essays or even write out the words you hear while you're watching Netflix at night. Try not to zone out too much though, since you should take care as you form each letter.