Even with modern technology so prevalent, good handwriting is still an important skill to have at any age! Here are some tips on how to have neat, legible handwriting.
Why is handwriting still important? Students may be curious why handwriting is important in today’s day and age. After all, handheld devices and tablets are incredibly common in households, and many students have become accustomed to submitting assignments digitally. Still, there are several important reasons why handwriting remains an extremely critical skill for any student:
1. Early education. This is likely the first area that comes to mind for many parents as handwritten assignments play such a big part during early childhood education (especially when children are first learning to read and write). Solidifying good handwriting skills at an early age will save students a lot of headaches in the future!
2. In-person exams. Assignments in class will often require students to write by hand, especially during test-taking situations. For example, English teachers will often have students write timed essays during class periods. In other cases, students will find themselves writing the first draft by hand in class before typing up their final submission.
3. Math. Here’s the big one that everyone forgets – handwriting is absolutely crucial in math! Many core concepts in math (including long division, the place value system, and the order of operations) are all introduced using handwritten methods. Even in cases where teachers allow the use of calculators, hand operations are often required in order to “show your work.” All the way through algebra and beyond, hand calculations are critical – and so is having neat handwriting. Numbers are just as important as letters, and messy handwriting is a main cause of errors (and frustration) for many students!
Tips for how to have neat and legible handwriting. Here are some helpful tips to ensure students practice their handwriting properly:
1. Proper grip. Holding a writing instrument isn’t always intuitive, so it’s surprisingly common for students to learn to hold a pencil the “wrong” way. Today, there are two generally accepted ways to hold a pen or pencil “properly” – we refer to them as the tripod and the quad. The tripod grip is the traditional way students have been taught for decades using three fingers. The pencil is held with the thumb and index finger while using the middle finger as a support. However, many people prefer the quad grip, which uses four fingers. In this arrangement, the thumb, index, and middle finger are all used to direct the pencil while the ring finger is used as a support. We recommend students use the grip that feels the most natural to them!
2. Write slowly. When students are first learning to write, encourage them to take their time. Writing too fast is perhaps the main cause of messy handwriting and will help to avoid “writer’s cramp.”
3. Practice makes perfect. The best way to learn handwriting is still repetition. To this day, elementary school students are still taught using the same extra-wide rule paper (with the additional “dotted” line in the middle) seen in classrooms for decades. That middle line is especially helpful for younger students when practicing capitals!
Having neat handwriting can take patience to accomplish, but it is a valuable skill students will use for the rest of their lives!