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Lockdown Day 91 – Handwriting


A few weeks ago, we wrote about Dr. Montessori’s notion that children should (and do) write before they read. The post encouraged the use of drawing as the earliest ‘writing’ to promote the child’s self-expression and prompt conversation. This activity also indirectly prepares the hand for the more formalised writing with an implement like a pencil on paper.

In our schools, children will learn to recognise, and form the letters of the alphabet using a set of sandpaper letters, which they trace and associate with the phonetic sound of that letter. This exposure allows the hand to develop a muscular memory of the shape of the letter while at the same time using both visual and auditory cues to remember it.

In order that you help your child with their handwriting, it is important that you, as the parent, are familiar with the way in which letters are written.

Here is an excellent source from Eastern Cape Education that can help with this.

Formation of letters is very important, and whether your child is in a school that teaches cursive or print, this should be emphasised. A lot of energy is used in forming letters incorrectly, creating fatigue and subsequently and avoidance of writing altogether. Placement of letters within the lines is also critical, so take time to consider the letters that are written inside the lines (a, c, e, I, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z), the ascending letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) and the descending letters (g, j, p, q, y).

Today we offer a few ideas to help you help your child with handwriting practice. Please remember that the child should have had a lot of practice in playing I Spy (tip #21) before learning the symbols of the alphabet.


Using an A4 piece of plain paper and some wax crayons or twisties, write the letter to fill the page, taking care to show the child where you start this writing and how the letter is formed. Allow the child to draw over your letter using all the colours at her/his disposal creating a rainbow effect of the letter in the correct formation. You can reinforce the phonetic sound of the letter at the same time.

Build up the set and use this as a mural in your child’s bedroom.


Use a blackboard easel (or alternatively, paint a large piece of wood with blackboard paint) and offer your child some chalk to write large letters on the surface. The chalk on the blackboard provides some resistance and is good for building the child’s writing muscles in the hand and arm. This is more effective than a whiteboard that offers little resistance.

In time, you could paint lines on the board for the child to practice the placement of the letters.


Like many skills, handwriting sometimes needs to be revisited and children need reminding of the importance of being able to write legibly. We often find that in the primary years children are so eager to learn and want to know so many things that attention to handwriting is often put on the back-burner. This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the art of calligraphy, which will help slow them down and focus once again.

Discuss with your child, the etymology of the word calligraphy. It comes from the Greek word ‘kalligraphos’ – a person who writes beautifully. Provide the child with examples of different styles of calligraphy. Encourage her/him to choose a style that appeals to her/him. Offer her/him a special calligraphy pen with which to write. These can be bought as felt tip pens from most art and craft suppliers and are relatively inexpensive.

Take some lined paper and cut the sheet into 8 equal rectangles (fold the paper in half, then in half again, and then in half again). Use each rectangle to write a letter of the alphabet within the correct lines. Start with the letters that lie within the lines, then move on to the ascending and descending letters. Each group of letters can be made into little booklets which can be stapled or sewn together.

Eventually, your child may wish to copy a short poem using her/his new-found calligraphy skills.

Remember that writing should be fun and not drill work. Enjoy the experience alongside your child – especially if your own handwriting could do with some improvement!

Find all of our lockdown tips here –