How to Get Your Kids to Hate Handwriting

My handwriting skills are not exactly what you would call…. skills :D Oh it’s legible, and definitely doesn’t cramp my style when I do write by hand – but it isn’t super straight, or fancy, and if I write on paper without lines, it tends toward a downward angle. I’m also a leftie, so my words had a tendency to get smudged on the page, which is VERY frustrating!

Despite all that, I have received compliments from people on how neat it is, so obviously I must have learned SOMETHING right (or write? :D) along the way! Thanks to my mom for teaching all of us to write as part of our school curriculum. I certainly do not have ANY bad or long-lasting memories of hating handwriting. But I do know a lot of children absolutely HATE handwriting, so when we began homeschooling, I was bound and determined that mine would not be one of them.

First big mistake.

So you want to know How to Get Your Kids to Hate Handwriting? Then follow these not-so-difficult steps!

1. Be too eager.

Decide from the very beginning that your children will have beautifully formed letters and scrolly-script handwriting. Just picture it in your head. Now project the desire and depth of determination onto your child (who honestly doesn’t care a whiff yet about handwriting!).

2. Start too soon.

“Get out the lined paper, sweetheart! We’re doing handwriting practice today!”

baby and bottle

“Mumma? Bubba?”

3. Trace, trace, trace, REPEAT!

Print off gobs and gobs of handwriting tracing sheets and require one full page to be completed each day.

4. Practice, practice, practice!

Once you’ve moved on from the tracing pages, handwriting books are next up! And the ones with one example and 17 rows for sonny-boy to form his own letter in are perfect! (or at least, if you want your kids to hate handwriting, they’re perfect…. womp, womp, womp, typically, a BIG.FAT.FAIL).

In case you couldn’t tell, those were all things that I did with our firstborn when we began teaching him handwriting. I was WAYYY too eager-beaver over him getting the handwriting thing down-pat – back off momma, give them some space and time! I started far too soon into the worksheets and letter tracing pages, and gave him miles and miles to finish all at once. There were tears. Waterfalls of tears! And not just from that sweet little boy :0(

So now that we know how to get your kids to hate handwriting, how do you get your kids to LOVE handwriting? I’m so glad you asked!

1. Focus on developing fine motor and other essential skills

You can start handwriting training early – but NOT with a pencil and paper! Fine motor skills are essential to so many future abilities. We can help our children to develop a proper grip and strength in their hands by giving them fine motor activities that are not only FUN, but also stretching and growing for them. I had very little idea of the importance of these skills until recently, so I am trying to be more intentional about incorporating them into my toddler’s play time.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need fancy tools or toys. Cheerios, pom poms, straws, tape, scissors, paper, and pretty much everything you have in the house can be turned into a fine motor activity for your child.

Heather Greutman from Golden Reflections Blog has some really good posts on developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, strength, etc. She also has a free e-book for activities for kids under 3 and 3-6 year olds when you subscribe!

My other go-to resource for fine motor skills is Sarah McClure’s blog, Happy Brown House. Her blog is pretty much one-stop for everything you need to know about fine motor!

You can see some of Heather and Sarah’s posts on my Toddler and Tot School Pinterest boards – check it out for more ideas!

Follow Serving From Home’s board Toddlers on Pinterest.

Follow Serving From Home’s board Tot School on Pinterest.

2. Ditch the copy books.

If you saw a sheet of letters you had JUST learned about, how eager would you be to complete the whole thing? Ok, so maybe there are SOME kids who would take a challenge like that head-on. But not mine, and, I believe, not many kids would take joy in doing it.

Many copy books also do not have an appropriate line-height for kids who are at different stages of learning handwriting. It can actually make things worse as they learn incorrect sizing and may struggle down the road in transferring what they’ve learned to “normal” lined paper.

A whole sheet of tracing or copying letters is also TOTALLY unnecessary. Excessive practice is tiring for little hands and frustrating for the parents / teachers as they see not an improvement in the child’s letter formation, but actually a digression? What’s up with that anyway?! And if I don’t use copy books, what DO I use?

I’m glad you asked :D

3. Get Handwriting Without Tears. Just go!

And yes, learning handwriting without tears involved IS possible!

Handwriting Without Tears

A teacher friend of mine recommended the Handwriting Without Tears program to me fortunately fairly early on in my homeschooling adventure, and in enough time for me not to do too much damage with our eldest. It is seriously a mind-altering, handwriting-changing program that WORKS!

If you attend a training class to learn about the program (you do have to pay to register, BUT you receive the first 5 years of Handwriting Without Tears workbooks, manuals and hands-on activities for FREE!!) you will have your mind opened to the mysteries of handwriting. Why do kids regress when they are copying letters on a page? Because they’re looking at their own immediate previous example on the page, NOT the original from the book! Thus their copying gets a little bit worse each time as their previous example regresses. It made so much sense when I learned this, and made me sad to think I had caused so much frustration with my little guy by having him do the copy work a different way.

There is so much wisdom and help in this program, our kids have totally loved doing handwriting – even The Boy, who is now in 4th grade, LOVES learning CURSIVE?! Hello?! How often do you hear that?! The lessons are short, concise, hands-on, including songs, games and manipulatives. What more could you want in a writing program?

4. Make writing fun.

Writing assignments can help make handwriting more fun. Again, like handwriting, writing should not be pushed too soon as it can make just about anyone have an aversion toward writing AND handwriting! But once you have laid the groundwork, you can start with fun and interesting writing projects, prompts and ideas to help with practicing handwriting.

Obviously JJ (Grade 2) and The Boy (Grade 4) have handwriting incorporated into their daily work, but we also add in a fun Writing Prompt from WriteShop on Wednesdays, and a few days a week a journal entry of some sort. Having the older ones help younger ones is also a great way to help them enjoy handwriting – there’s nothing quite like the accomplishment of teaching someone else a new skill. Also, give them fun, no pressure activity books

I had the great privilege of  participating in a Google Plus Live Hangout with the iHomeschool Network on Teaching Handwriting. The ladies on the panel shared some really great tips and helps for handwriting – and you get to hear me talk about our handwriting success ;0) Check it out!

How have you learned to help your kids like handwriting? Any tips you can share with the rest of us?

How to Get Your Kid To Hate...There are other moms and teachers from iHomeschool Network sharing their tips on how to get our kids to hate different subjects. Let’s learn from their mistakes! :D

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