Question - How to improve handwriting of my kid without losing my cool? “Why must I write neatly? What’s the point? We all use computers now.. and they even do spell checks!”
This kind of question is being asked more and more frequently by children of the modern era. And in the course we had other parents also contribute to the conversation. So I have left this lesson in written article format so all those can be included:
The original question I was asked in the course:
“My 11 year old daughter has really bad writing – and this is not just by my standard. I’ve tried everything from getting her to practice writing which she can’t be bothered to do, to praising her if a sentence looks neat, to shouting, screaming, threatening and even striking out homework and asking for a rewrite. I don’t expect her to be perfect but it’s so bad at the moment that I’m scared if it’s not corrected now she will end up with teachers just putting a strike across her exam papers and failing her because they just can’t read her writing. Please help!”
My response to the mother was focused on how to get her daughter to feel her point of view as valid at the same time as ensuring her handwriting was neat. We also have an article on How do you apply the skills and inviting cooperation when they have really hit someone?
Hi! What a great question! You have asked me ” How to improve handwriting of my kid without losing my cool ” How to get your child to do something that is important to YOU, when they feel is not important to THEM!
This sounds like the FIRST thing that comes up in your situation. Why should the little one improve her writing if she does not understand the value of it?
And this is what I would first focus on.
1. Digital Writing Vs Handwriting
And to be honest there is a certain part of her argument that I believe is valid for the query How to improve handwriting of my kid. People are writing less and less, and it might be true that your daughter may never write anything again once she has left school, or until school uses digital means to replace writing. So this is what I would say:
“Honey… if I think about what you have been saying about handwriting and that having neat handwriting is not that important anymore in this digital age, I think you have a real point there. People are using computers more and more and are handwriting less and less. So you are right that we really do need to ask the question about why we spend so much time on learning to write neatly in schools at the moment. I mean, is this a waste of time, right?
And I wish that I had a great answer for that, or that I could somehow change what happens in your class everyday so that having neat handwriting was not that important. Or at least, that you did not get bad marks because of bad handwriting as that has nothing to do with your intelligence or understanding of a concept.
If we want to show our teachers that we understand something, or if we want other people to be able to read what we have written, it will need to be in a way that enables them to easily see what we had written. If they struggle to read our letters and words, they will spend time just trying to figure out what we have written instead of putting effort into understanding the concepts we have written about.
Reading also has an immense effect on the children and we should read out more to them.
2. Importance of Handwriting Clarity | How to improve Handwriting Discussion 1
And if this happens, I am concerned that your current teachers will mark you down, not because you don’t understand the concept, but because THEY value neat handwriting.
I don’t think we must put more effort into our handwriting than is needed to make our words easily legible to other people.
And as schools are still requiring you to hand write your answers, and until they change their systems to include digital ways of answering questions, we will need to make sure your handwriting is clear enough for them to be able to read it, and according to what they say they are needing.
I know this doesn’t seem fair at the moment, and may still even be a waste of some of your time.
So maybe let’s go speak to the teachers and find out what level of handwriting is needed that is just enough to make sure they can read it and if it is ok for them, and maybe even find out from them how you can begin to shift some of your work over to digital media.
Is that ok?”
The idea is that if we can get buy in from our children in that they don’t have to fight to make their point to you, they may be more willing to cooperate in stepping up to what is needed on to improve handwriting.
I often used the same kind of process for a child who would spell a word in their own way, and argue “why must I learn to spell correctly when everyone can still read what I have written.”
So please do try this out, and let us know the response. Once this in in place, then we can look at the kinds of skills that will SUPPORT them in this, and increase their PERSEVERANCE in maintaining it.
3. Listen To Your Child
Another parent Kate had this to add from her own personal experience of her teen daughters:
“I have been in the same predicament with my daughter who is 12. I can share with you what was helpful for me and it might support you in trying something new or different to get your daughter to see and feel where you are coming from.
So because your question has come for this course we can look and see and check if the skills can be used. So for me lecture 9 was a very important reminder; “Getting your child to feel heard and understood although it sounds like the standoff phase has already happened or happens.”
I found that by coming from the space of acknowledging their struggle and frustrations it opened up a different conversation. So for me by acknowledging what “they could have been feeling” at the time of writing (which was often illegible) I was able to pick up a whole lot of what was really going on for my daughter.
Examples of these conversations ranged from the seats are uncomfortable at school, the teacher always leaves us to write this down at the last minute to, she can’t read the teachers writing and that she dislikes certain teachers and struggles with subjects. I was then able to come from the space of getting HER needs met in order to improve and work on her handwriting.
Even by just having the conversation helped improve the writing she did at home as I was aware of ensuring she was comfortable, had enough time etc. It also enabled me to offer support with the subjects she struggled in by offering help if she needed it. It was amazing to see how her writing varied from subject to subject. She often put in more effort to the ones she preferred.
As a parent, you have to work on the cooperation skills also.
Appreciate The Goods Only
I also refrained from ever pointing out what was wrong or where things could be improved, I just made comments about what my favorite part is on the page or it looks liked you enjoyed your lesson today in Maths your writing looks focused and well presented. And in those conversations I felt my attitude and delivery of what I said shifted something in her to be more open to what I suggested even to the point of her sharing her writing with me when she felt it was neat.
4. Talk About The Hows
A great tool that I find works very well with “tweens” is really exploring the “HOW” with them in their choices (skill 1, part 3). That is when you can really tap into what it is they are trying to tell you. It was something that took a while as we had to shift the energy behind what the need was and it was MY need for her to write neatly as it was something I found important and of value for her to know.
So in sharing that value I had to really stand back and do it differently. So it became about sharing what is needed in a general sense as untidy writing affects a lot of things in our lives and as you shared even possibly failing of something which is very anxious for a parent as we all want our children’s potential and possibilities to be recognized and acknowledged.
As a teacher too I would suggest to check if there are no underlying gross motor or fine motor challenges as these can at times be linked to untidy handwriting- I use that as a clue to check it out. Hope that helps in your question how to improve handwriting of my kid without losing my cool.