5 tips for improving your child’s handwriting

In today’s world of computers, portable devices and other ‘screens’, it might be easy to think that handwriting is a redundant skill for kids.

While technology is racing into classrooms all over Australia, children are still required to hand write exams such as NAPLAN and the HSC, so it’s important that your child can write comfortably and efficiently for extended periods of time in order to ‘show what they know’

These tips, from Kids First’s occupational therapists, are important for all parents and teachers who are encouraging children to write well.

Child practicing her handwriting activity from Occupational Therapists in Sydney's northern beaches


To reduce fatigue and gain good control over your arm and fingers you need to be sitting with good posture. Being able to activate your core and stabilizing muscles is an important step to maintaining a good posture when writing.

  • Feet flat on the ground
  • Thighs parallel to the ground
  • Knees at 90 degrees
  • Forearm of your writing arm supported on the desk
  • Non writing arm supporting your weight. This hand needs to hold the paper nice and steady.
  • Paper should be aligned with the writing arm, horizontal or on a slight angle
  • Head not to close to the paper
  • Shoulders and arms relaxed
  • Back, thighs and bottom supported in the chair

Pencil grip

To reduce pain and fatigue within the hand, wrist and elbow during written tasks as well as producing neat writing, a functional pencil grip should be used.

A functional grip allows for movement in the thumb and fingers when writing.

Letter formation

Using the correct NSW letter formation when writing will help to ensure neat and legible work. It will also help with a smooth transition from printing to cursive and finally allow for increasing speed.

Grouping letters into ‘letter families’ will help your child remember how to form their letters

Sizing, spacing, pressure

Sizing of letters is vital for the legibility of your child’s handwritten work.

There are three different letter sizes.

  • Tall (l, t, k etc),
  • short (a, m, o etc) and
  • long (g, j, p etc).

Ensuring that all the letters are the same size is important.

Words also need to have a space between them.

The size of the space should be consistent throughout the written text.

When your child is learning to put spaces into their written work, the use of a spacer can also be helpful. This could simply be your child’s finger or a rubber.

Applying too much or not enough pressure to written work will directly affect its readability. It can also cause pain and fatigue in the writer.

Editing and correcting work

Encouraging your child to correct their work neatly is an important step in handwriting.

A mistake should either have one line drawn through the middle followed by a space or be rubbed out.

Call kids first now

Concerned about your child’s handwriting?

If you or your child’s teacher have expressed concerns about your child’s handwriting, Kids First’s experienced occupational therapists can help.

We’ve guided hundreds of children in Sydney’s northern beaches toward neater, easier, faster handwriting and we can help your child too.

We also conduct assessments for children who require special provisions or exemptions for examinations such as NAPLAN and the HSC.

Contact us on (02) 9938 5419 to chat about your child’s needs, or click on the image below to find out more about occupational therapy support at Kids First.

Learn more about occupational therapy at Kids First here

We’re here to support you and your child - no matter what.

Chat to us today

School Ready: get the guide for school readiness you've been looking for