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Cleaning Up Messy Handwriting



Today's Snack: Make a mess - on purpose - and have it turn out to be a yummy snack. Stir together one container of peach chunks, drained, and one container of peach yogurt. Mix in a spoonful or two of granola or your favorite cereal. It'll look like an orange, gooey mess, but yummmm! Enjoy with a small can of peach nectar.





Short, lightweight golf pencils

Blank scratch paper

Lined practice paper from a school supply store

Booklets with tracing activities, dot-to-dots and mazes

Carbon paper, tracing paper



Nobody should get in trouble for "messy" or "careless" handwriting in school. But poor letter formation and lots of erasures and scratch-outs ARE a problem.


Parents and educators aren't just being picky. They fear that a child with poor handwriting will also suffer from poor reading comprehension. And that's a real possibility.


Why? Because a child with messy handwriting often has a problem with letter recognition. If you don't "see" how letters should be formed, you'll make mistakes in reading words as well as writing them.


But you can train yourself at home. Here's how:


1.      Writing that's legible - easy to read - is consistent. Each of these is the same, every time:


        Letter and number formation

        Shape, size, and slope (or slant) of the letters

        Spacing between letters, and between words

        Positioning of the base of the letters on the line

        Positioning of the ascenders (as in d, t and capitals) and descenders (bottom half of letters such as g and p) to the right height or depth


2.      Use crayon-length pencils that are more child-sized.

Long pencils are hard to control. Try using short golf pencils, or break some standard-length ones in half.


3.      Ask your parents to buy you a handwriting manual with illustrations to double-check your posture and pencil grip, and some practice exercises you could do at home. Example: Handwriting Without Tears.


4.      Get an inexpensive chart that shows the directions of the strokes you should make in writing the alphabet. Keep it in front of you as you practice.


5.      Also ask them to get you lined practice paper, tracing paper, and fine-motor workbooks -- dot-to-dot books and mazes -- at a school supply store.


6.      Keep your at-home handwriting sessions short - 10 minutes a day. Keep at it! Stay patient!


7.      Watch where the index finger is; for good control, it should rest where the paint starts, close to the point.


8.      Place your "helping hand" - the one that just holds the paper while the other hand holds the pencil -- in the proper position in the opposite upper corner.


9.      Tilt the paper at the correct diagonal angle, or your neck, back, arm and hand might start to hurt.


10.       If your papers look messy because you're pressing too hard and erasures smudge or tear the paper, practice writing with carbon paper to adjust force.


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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