Between the ages of 8 to 11 years, a child should have developed and mastered all essential handwriting skills. These are being able to hold a pencil using a dynamic tripod grip. Being able to copy and write alphabet letters of various sizes. Correctly forming lower case letters and placing spaces between words within sentences. They would also be expected to form joined up letters and to not take too much time to write their school work.
Now is the time that a child should have developed what is called muscle memory. This is the ability to move the hand to write letters without looking. Only when this occurs can your child increase the speed of their handwriting.
Handwriting practice should be…
All about developing muscle memory, the ability to know what the hand is doing and the marks it is making without looking. The only way to achieve this is regular practice. The real trick here is to ask a child to repeat the same handwriting actions in a number of different ways. This will ensure that they do not become bored or frustrated with themselves.
The only way to achieve this is with regular practice. The real trick here is to ask a child to repeat the same handwriting actions in a number of different ways. This will ensure that they do not become bored or frustrated with themselves.
Sometimes children can say that their hand hurts when writing. Often this is because they are holding the pencil too tightly and concentrating so hard when writing to transfer the thoughts from their brain to paper. At times like this, it is good to be able to teach them specific hand exercises to relieve this tension.
What can you do to help?
At this age, if a child is struggling to write they will need activities that capture their imagination so that they do not refuse to write.
In school, they will be showing their academic knowledge by writing stories, non-fiction writing, poetry, and plays. These stories should have good spelling and punctuation. Topics they will study include World War II, time zones around the world, Remembrance Day, space and solar systems.
A nice fun activity is to play a spy game. They are the spy and they need to send a secret message without another person knowing. They must look into their partner’s eyes and write a message, they then look to see if they can read their own message.
Another way is to do this spy game is to use light up pens. They need to write a message by not letting the light appear. If the light appears then the ‘baddies’ can read it.
With practice, the letters written will become more legible.
Want to learn more?
Hi, I’m Sheilagh a children’s occupational therapist and best-selling author. I’ve worked with hundreds of children, parents, teachers and schools. I’m proud and privileged to have been involved in some incredible children who have flourished in confidence and skill when working with me. Including 8-year-old Tom* who started as a reluctant writer and later won a school story writing competition. Then there was Sarah*, aged 7 3/4’s who increased her handwriting speed in less than 2 weeks to above her chronological age. I love helping children love handwriting.Who do you know who I can help? Tell me by clicking here.