N is for Notes

N is for Notes

Ah, handwriting. Some kids love it, and some kids just don’t. Actually, some adults are great at it, and some just aren’t. Of all the subjects, I find this one to be one of the most difficult to teach, for a variety of reasons.

Creativity does not translate into neatness

My kids love to draw, paint, scribble, cut, fold, tear, etc. Creativity has never run low in my family. There’s always markers, glitter, crayons, paper, glue, and just about any other mostly child-safe art supply available to my kids. And the only reason we might not have something is because they used it all up. We actually ran out of markers last month!

But, lots and lots of creativity means nothing when it comes to handwriting. I naively assumed that because my children like to draw and color and can stay in the lines (when they want to) that teaching handwriting would be a breeze.

I think the opposite is true. They find the structure of handwriting confining and feel the need to embellish and decorate everything on their page. Even on their math pages. 9’s turn into people, and 1’s must be decorated to the nth degree.


I just assumed that by 2nd grade keeping letter all the same size would come naturally. Apparently, that’s a learned skill. I remember struggling with this when I was a kid, well into 4th grade. For some kids, it doesn’t matter how many lines you give them, it’s just so hard to keep those letters even.


I have worked and worked with my kids on how to hold a pencil but it seems to do nothing for their handwriting. I mentioned this to my art teacher when my oldest was in 1st grade and she wasn’t at all surprised that I was still having trouble teaching this. She said that in her experience, kids are usually between 7 and 10 before they’re actually physically coordinated enough to hold a pencil correctly and write with perfect, even penmanship.

I’m so glad my teacher told me this. I was getting frustrated with my 1st grader and she was getting frustrated with me. So, I backed off. I still make her practice handwriting, but I make it easier and less time-consuming. We started cursive in 2nd grade and I used a K4 Cursive writing book for her. Long pages of writing means that I get really poor penmanship. Short pages means that she actually tries. And I’d much rather see 5 correctly formed words than 30 illegible words. She has a long way to go on her cursive, but we got a great start this year, and she’s still wanting to improve.

What’s actually interesting to me is the less I push my oldest, the better her penmanship gets. She’s entering that age where she wants to write her own notes and stories, and her penmanship just improves as she goes.

I haven’t given up on penmanship, I’m just allowing my children to learn at their own pace. Next year I have a Kindergartner and a 3rd grader and I’ve already looked at curriculum and picked out their handwriting. They’re both going to learn manuscript and cursive together. The younger child needs to learn, and the older child needs to improve. And hopefully, with some sibling competition, they will both improve faster than if either was working alone.

Plus, let’s be honest here. While I have great handwriting (manuscript, cursive, and calligraphy), I despise writing out pages of random words or sayings. So, why would I expect my children to like this?

Really, it’s just good to know that if I want my kids to have great handwriting, I need to plan to be teaching this all the way through middle school. Because perfection takes practice. Lots of practice.


(18) Comments

  • Carlee
    24 Apr 2016

    I have a lefty, and I was concerned about how his handwriting would turn out. However, I think his penmanship is actually better than my own now.

  • Kristen from The Road to Domestication
    23 Apr 2016

    I’ve always loved handwriting myself. Probably because I have a little more creativity than analytical in me. I know it’s not always easy, though – learning at your own pace is key!

  • Leslie Rossi
    23 Apr 2016

    my writing has and always been horrible. even after all those calligraphy classes.

  • Barb W.
    22 Apr 2016

    I simply loved her sweet note! Have worried from time to time about my children’s penmanship, too, but like you, found the more I allowed them to learn at their own pace, the better they improved their penmanship over time.

  • Ashley S
    22 Apr 2016

    My son is 5 and handwritting is something we are definitely working on right now!

  • Liz
    22 Apr 2016

    I think handwriting goes bad when they’re trying to hurry and just get it scribbled down. The proper form goes away.

    • admin
      22 Apr 2016

      It really does, and form is so important!

  • Kimberly
    22 Apr 2016

    I have a six year old so I can totally relate. I have a stack on notes I’ll keep forever and someday will get them out and read them again….so special.

    • admin
      22 Apr 2016

      Their notes are always so sweet 🙂

  • diane
    22 Apr 2016

    I totally love the little notes my kids have written over the years but wow, my son has horrible handwriting!

  • Leslie
    22 Apr 2016

    I think it’s great your teaching them about handwritting. I try and I try but my handwriting is horrible. It’s embarrassing! It’s not like a man or doctors writing but it’s a mess.

  • candy
    21 Apr 2016

    Handwriting skills have slacken in schools. They do not practice and practice like they use to. Pretty handwriting is lost on computers.

  • Kaley
    21 Apr 2016

    When I was younger my handwriting was so bad. My grandma actually sat me down after school when they watched me and made me practice handwriting. I never had the best handwriting still, but now as an adult I use handwriting more than anyone I know and it has gotten SO GOOD. I get compliments all the time. It just takes time!

  • Dia All The Things I Do
    21 Apr 2016

    I worked in a Marketing firm and my team is very creative and i notice in edits we all have less than perfect hand writing. It’s so funny. I associate creativity and genius with messiness.

    • admin
      22 Apr 2016

      Those two do often seem to go together.

  • Becky @ Disney in your Day
    21 Apr 2016

    I can only imagine how difficult this is to teach! I still think it’s an important skill for awhile, even if we do have so much on computers now.

  • Emily
    19 Apr 2016

    My handwriting has never been great. I just get impatient! My thoughts go faster than my hand can write! haha

    • admin
      20 Apr 2016

      LOL – I’m that way too. I think that’s why I prefer typing. It’s so much faster!

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