Messy Handwriting and Real Teaching

Messy Handwriting, Real Teaching, Immediate Feedback

One problem children have with messy handwriting is not understanding the typical pattern:

Writing words of a sentence on a line and continuing on the next line.

For example, the child writes a sentence and the words are all over the paper in no particular order.

One of our daughters did this when she was 5 or 6 years old. I tried to explain it to her, but she didn’t get it.

Here’s What Worked for Her

I wrote her a nice little note about something of high interest to her–but I wrote the words all over the page in no particular order. I made it beautiful and appealing. When she opened the note, she couldn’t understand it and asked me what I was writing to her.

Instead of explaining, I read the letter to her pointing to each word as I read it. She said the way I wrote it made no sense to her. She asked me how I expected her to figure it out.

I told her again (same lesson as usual!) about the order of words on a line, explaining if everyone does it the same way, anyone can read it.  Suddenly it all made sense to her because she learned it on the “need to know basis” of real teaching.

And Then There Was Calligraphy

Another daughter had messy handwriting (which is beautiful now). I wasn’t connecting with her about making letters with uniform sizes and spacing. Coincidentally, a friend who taught calligraphy asked if my daughter could take the next class with her daughter–mainly to keep her company. Because the letters in calligraphy are made precisely on that special paper with the little slants, my daughter finally understood it. Her handwriting improved and wasn’t messy anymore. I am very grateful for my friend’s help.

There is always a way to teach handwriting and penmanship!

Step back and ponder the situation. Give yourself and your student a breather. I ask God for help and He always sends it. Sometimes it an inspiration for the goofy letter I wrote. Sometimes it’s a helpful friend in the right place at the right time. As my son loves to say, “Wait for it!”