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Handwriting cues

How you can help at home: Reinforce proper letter formation by writing lists and notes together with your child.

By Karen Heath, Consulting Educator

Practice handwriting at home in a manner consistent with what your child is doing in school. Ask your child to write a grocery list as you both figure out what you'll need to buy. After the holidays, sit down together to write thank-you notes. As you do these activities, use the cues she is familiar with from her school's handwriting system.

What You'll Need

  • A copy of the handwriting sample letters your child's teacher uses
  • A list of the cues she is given for forming letters

Here's How To Do It

Ask your child's teacher for a copy of the school's handwriting system, and familiarize yourself with cues (for example: "Top down, up around…"). When your child is writing something at home (a birthday wish list, a thank-you note, a card to a friend), have the letter formation chart handy, and have her recite the cues to you as she forms the letters. If she cannot remember them, this is the time to "share the cues." This will reinforce proper letter formation as the cues and practice become embedded in her handwriting process. Also, whenever your child is writing, check to be sure she is holding the pencil or pen correctly, as improper grip can lead to handwriting difficulties.

Karen Heath is an elementary language arts curriculum specialist in Barre, Vermont. She has created and implemented an innovative accelerated language arts program for elementary students in her school. After more than 20 years of teaching, Karen was named Vermont's 2005 Teacher of the Year. She holds a master's degree in education and is the mother of two school-aged children and one child in college.

Comments from readers

"I love this website "
"Your website is wonderful, you give such great advice. It is a great resouce for parents who never went to school in the US. Thank you so much"
"I think this is Great information. I notice that my Daughter hates writing but likes gotting things down in a small note book. I am going to encourage her to do the shopping list. I will tell her to look in the frig; see what we need like milk and eggs. Thanks for the advise a concerned father."
"My daughter is left handed and seems to want to write from the bottom up. She does some very interesting things when she's writing. ;-) She gets frustrated with me when I try to show her the correct way to write. It can be a little taxing at homework time. I need to talke to her teacher. "