The 3 Rs: R for ‘Riting – How to Encourage Children to Practice Their Handwriting Skills

Successful Kids have a strong foundation in the 3-Rs – reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Today, we will focus on “writing”…

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Similar to Math practice, encouraging Aristotle to pick up a pencil and practice his handwriting is like trying to make a rock bleed. To make this uphill battle a little easier, I’ve had to devise ways to make it fun for him… Here are some of the methods we have employed…

  • writing letters to an imaginary friend – I created a fictitious dinosaur friend (when he was at the height of his dino-mania) and asked him to write back.
  • linking memory story writing – I tried asking him to write me stories but he complained that he didn’t know what to write about. I think it is more to do with not wanting to write rather than not having any ideas for a story, if you ask me. To circumvent this excuse, I used picture cards to provide him with writing cues.
  • handwriting apps – this worked for a while when the novelty of having the iPad was still new.
  • ordering at a restaurant – children love it when you make them “responsible” for handling important tasks so I allowed Aristotle to write out our menu orders at those restaurants where you are required to fill out the order sheet yourself.
  • secret code writing – practice fine motor skills with a pencil by encouraging your child to write “secret code” messages to friends.

In addition to the physical act of writing, anything that develops the fine motor skills of the hand is good for handwriting. Here are some activities that fall into this category:

  • play doh
  • painting
  • encourage your child to keep a drawing pad or sketch book – for writing and drawing random stuff that they like (Aristotle created his own Book of Dragons)
  • colouring (worked for a while until Aristotle deemed himself “too grown up” for that “baby activity”)
  • water activities with a dropper
  • using different instruments – crayons, side-walk chalk, marker pens (anything different from the usual writing instruments can sometimes be all it takes to engage your child)

Book of dragons

I mentioned earlier that handwriting apps can be helpful. Here are some apps that help young children learn how to write:

Letter School

Activity sheets and workbooks:

Never Get Bored

For preschoolers, you can also start with textured alphabets and numbers:

Textured letters

Other ways to encourage writing practice:

  • The Treasure Hunt Game – get your child to draw the map
  • Letters and Cards – get your child to make his own cards and letters to family members (you can get it going by writing letters to your child first to inspire him to write back)

Last, but not least, if we want to encourage handwriting practice in our children, we need to be the example that they follow. It is said that a good way to inculcate good reading habits is to be a reader yourself. Children who see their parents reading are more likely to be readers themselves. I think, perhaps, that it is the same with writing. In this age of technology, chances are you haven’t really picked up a pen in a while to write anything meaningful besides your signature – at least, I haven’t. My shopping lists are kept on my mobile and my letters are typed (or they’re email). If I even write anything, it’s usually on a scrappy piece of paper to jot down something I don’t want to forget right at that moment and will later get transferred to my digital diary. It’s not hard to wonder why Aristotle views writing as a pointless exercise when everything can be easily typed out and will look neater.

How do you encourage your child to practice writing?


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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