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Handwriting Practice

Handwriting practice with The Better Letter Primer includes two techniques for improving penmanship. The free handwriting practice worksheets are included, as well as guidelines below for coaching penmanship.

Once your student has completed the worksheets for the four steps of The Better Letter Primer, handwriting lessons are not over. Consider spending a few sessions a month coaching your student on penmanship?

Penmanship Coaching?

What kind of nonsense is this? It's not like this is footbal!

Actually, you will find that one on one coaching produces better penmanship than pages and pages of handwriting practice sheets.

Think about it. Nice handwriting is a physical skill. Are physical skills better learned through guided practice or through worksheets?

How Does Penmanship Coaching Work?

Two to four times a month, have a sit down session working with the child on writing skills. This can reinforce mechanics as well as penmanship.

Sit to the left of a right-handed child or to the right of a left-handed child. This enables you to watch the writing.

Give a few instructions at a time. Don't overwhelm them with multiple criticisms and expectations.

Guidelines for Improvement

Here are some of the guidelines that can help students improve their penmanship
  • All letters sit neatly on the bottom line. The few that go beheath the line (g, y, etc.) still should have the "body" of the letter sitting on the line. Letters ending below or above the bottom line are the most common cause of poor penmanship.

  • There are two sizes of letters: tall and short. All tall letters are the same size. All short letters are the same size. Depending on which program you are using, there may be some exceptions: (often t or f). Exceptions are just that.

  • Younger students use the middle line for assistance in developing letters. Older students who no longer use this line should periodically assess the uniformity of their letters. Here is a test:

    • After they have written one or more sentences, take a colored pencil and lightly draw a line from the top of one short letter to the next. Also touch the part of tall letters that should hit the middle line (for instance, the top of the curve on the b.)
    • Then look at the line. Is it straight?
    • After you have done this a few times, ask students to draw the line themselves. This makes them cognitive of the impact of their letter sizes.

  • If there is a particular letter that the student writes incorrectly, ask them to write it three to five times at the bottom of their writing page.

  • During the coaching session, use short phrases or words as codes to make the student aware of a rule or principle. Here are some examples: Many of these are from the 8 Letter Groups.

    • "Short letter." Quicker and more efficient that saying, "You're making that 'j' too tall."
    • "Tall letter"
    • "See Me Back at Home" - if they are reversing a "c" based letter.
    • "Sit on the bottom line."
    • "Bouncing/Pouncing"

Younger students may also need coaching on mechanics.
  • How does a sentence start?
  • How do names start?
Penmanship coaching should be a relaxed time. If you are getting impatient, your tension will lead to more mistakes on the students' part. Remember that this part of writing, like all other aspects, develops over time.

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