Learning to Write: The Tricks of the Trade

Whether they’re coloring in or practicing how to spell their name, if your child is scribbling away, they’re inadvertently practicing their handwriting – even if it’s not directly obvious.


The alphabet can be tricky to master for a child with an unsteady hand and even with mum and dad at their side, some inky messes are certain to happen – but that’s fine!  Vanish can remove drawing pen ink stains with ease so you can focus on helping your child cross their T’s and dot their I’s, and take the stress out of making mistakes. Here are a few things to consider when helping to improve your child’s handwriting.

Tools for the craft

Some children may find holding pencils for long periods uncomfortable but, as with many aspects of parenting, there are ways you can help them get around this! There are a variety of spongey-textured pencil grips which not only provide additional comfort, but also help your child work out where their fingers should sit.

Left-handed and right-handed people also hold drawing pens and pencils differently, and there are handwriting pens that can be bought that take this into consideration. What feels and looks right to you may be different for your child if they write with the opposite hand to you!

Work out what your child is struggling with

Of course, some things come more naturally than others, and there will always be something that your child may find more challenging than others. Common problems that many children struggle with include letter formation, sizing, spaces between words, and writing in a straight line.[1]

At this point, it is important to remember everything gets better over time and with practice

The transition from colored pencil to drawing pen brings a whole set of new challenges which include ink spills and smudges. Showing your child that an inky mess isn’t the end of the world and laughing it off will help reduce stress – and tantrums - as they continue to practice!

Ways to practice

Ultimately a child can practice their handwriting anywhere and don’t actually have to be limited to writing at a desk. Whilst it is good practice to write at a table, why not let them sit in the garden or take them to the park and let them do some writing in the sunshine? That way is doesn’t feel like they’re being restricted and will have the freedom to play when they are finished.

Day-to-day life

Nowadays, many older children can be seen with their heads buried behind a phone or computer, but bringing handwriting into your family’s day-to-day routine is a great way to allow your child to practice their handwriting without making it seem like they are. Examples of how to do this include:

  • Making lists and labels
  • Leaving notes for each other around the house
  • Creating hand-made cards

Battling with the attention span of a child

Colouring in may not seem like a way to practice handwriting but your child is still using pens, pencils and crayons which will strengthen the muscles in their dominant hand. Likewise, a steamed bathroom mirror or window can also be a fun way for your child to focus more on how to write letter properly instead of sitting at a desk for long periods of time!

Don’t get upset with them

It’s understandable that you may both get a tiny bit frustrated if things don’t go off to a flying start. However, you have the power to change the situation with positive reinforcement, by making handwriting practice fun. A reward system and setting easy to achieve targets are both effective ways to encourage your child to want to continue.

If you have any examples of your early school books from your childhood, dig them out to show your children so they can see that everyone has to start somewhere! Remember if there are any ink spills and stains while your child is learning to write, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world – or their handwriting session.


[1] http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/writing-activities/5-ways-to-improve-your-childs-handwriting