There are five vital components to handwriting, regardless of whether the child is learning print, cursive, or slanted handwriting:
1) Correct letter formation
2) Uniform letter size
3) Uniform letter alignment (staying on the line)
4) Uniform letter slant
5) Uniform letter spacing
Difficulty in some of these areas results in poor legibility. Children should focus on one objective at a time: first correct letter formation, then letter size, and finally letter alignment, slant and spacing.
QUICK EFFICIENT AND CLEAR handwriting results from direct monitoring and frequent practice. Teaching the basics of letter formation is the first step in teaching handwriting; this means showing the correct letter formation and shape, and supervising students until they have achieved mastery.
It takes time to learn proper letter formation, but the effort is rewarding. Whenever a student forms a letter using strokes that minimize unwanted and unnatural movements, his/her hand muscles will be protected and mental fatigue will be avoided. Students who have mastered letter formation efficiently use more efficient movements, gaining in writing speed and clarity, and are better able to focus on the higher-level skills of spelling, content and expression.
2. Cursive and slanted alphabets:
1. Letters finishing at the top join horizontally:
2. Letters finishing at the bottom join diagonally:
3. All lowercase letters start at the baseline (guide-line):
2. Uniform letter size:
Once a student has mastered letter formation, he/she should practice with wide guidelines in order to learn to control size and to develop uniformity of size.
At first, children make their letters too big, too small or inconsistent. Practicing such activities as pattern sequences, tracking, tracing and copying, with School Fonts programs enables students to develop correct letter size, shape and formation. It also enhances their stroke control.
Downhill Publishing has developed unique activity sheets and fonts with special characters to assist teachers in helping students to develop uniform letter size.
2 General tips on uniform letter size:
1. Letters that are similar have the same height:
2. Ascenders and descenders are no more than twice the height of the x-height (lowercase letters):
3. Capital letters are the same height as ascenders:
3. Uniform letter alignment (staying on the line):
It is also very common for beginners to write letters that float above or dip below the baseline (guide-line). In these circumstances, legible handwriting is dependent upon the development of good fine-motor skills, such as precision, balance and hand-eye coordination. To develop these skills use activities such as tracing games, dot to dot drawing, playing with clay, small blocks, Legos© and puzzles. Some fonts used at school improve greatly those skills.
2 General tips on letter alignment:
1. All letters (upper and lower case) sits on the baseline (or the very top of the guide-line):
2. All ascenders and descenders sits on an imaginary line parallel to the baseline:
4. Uniform letter slant:
Once proper letter formation and size has been achieved, it is time to focus on letter slant. Manuscript or Print handwriting do not require slant. Cursive Font and D’Nealian Font writing often look sloppy just because the letters do not all slant uniformly.
3 General tips on uniform letter slant:
1. Neat handwriting is based on patterns of ovals (or circles) and parallel lines:
2. All the downstrokes, ascenders and descenders are parallel:
2. Draw a straight vertical line through the center of each letter. These lines should all be parallel. Slant may therefore be improved by drawing straight parallel lines through the center of each letter as a guide.
5. Uniform Letter spacing:
Neat and legible handwriting requires the same spacing between single letters and words. Omitting or leaving extra spaces between single letters and words is a common mistake, which can make writing hard to read. A child will learn uniform spacing by placing a Popsicle stick or one or two fingers between words.
2 General tips on letter spacing:
1. The space between words is about the size of letter “n”:
2. Uniform and proper leading: ascenders and descenders from two different lines should not touch each other. Allow enough space between lines so that the ascenders and descenders do not touch each other:
On the Downhill Publishing’s Handwriting Worksheets 4 Teachers, you will find plenty of activity sheets which are designed to help students attain proficiency in letter formation and shaping, size, slant, spacing and alignment.
In addition, DownHill Publishing has developed School Fonts, another program containing a collection of handwriting fonts which are able to print special tracing characters, lines, dots, arrows or a combination of all three. This wonderful software will help you create professional-looking activity sheets in just a few minutes. Here are some examples of the fonts:
Handwriting sequence: 1-2-3-4….
- Begin practicing lines, shapes and patterns, and then shaping the strokes into letters. Encourage children to draw all vertical lines from the top to the bottom, and horizontal lines from left to right. Circular shapes should begin at the 2 o’clock position, moving around counter clock-wise, like letter “c”.
- Teach first the letter, then the corresponding sound. Later on teach how the letter is formed (use visual, auditory and kinesthetic input).
- Children should practice writing the letters on unlined paper, without arrows.
- Later, they should practice on lined paper with arrows. This will develop correct letter formation, size control and size uniformity.
- Work on forming letters, then words, and then sentences.
- It is also important to show children the correct posture and how to hold their pencil and paper.
Ramón Abajo, Downhill Publishing LLC CEO /Founder
Diego Uribe Ph.D Chief Marketing Officer