Handwriting practice is boring when it is always in the form of worksheets and repetitive exercises. Plus, handwriting in the real world has nothing to do with worksheets! There are many ways to practice writing in practical situations, and one of my favorites is to get kids writing letters and cards to friends and family members.
When I was a kid we never sent store-bought cards. My brother and I were always instructed to make the birthday and greeting cards we sent to other people. It's probably because my mother was frugal, but looking back it was good way to get my brother and I to practice writing. A lot of parents (including me) upcycle kids' art into greeting cards, but for the past few years, I've been following my mother's example. Besides, card making is a fun and creative way to get kids to practice every day writing.
When kids write letters or cards, they are using their writing skills in a practical situation. Their writing has a goal and a purpose. It's also helpful to write to someone; it makes the act of writing less abstract and more concrete.
Sometimes it's a challenge for me to motivate my kids to write letters. Here are some tips that have helped me:
- Offer suggestions as to what to draw. In this photo Kiddo is writing a birthday card to his cousin in California. Since Kiddo is interested in birds and sports I suggested a bird that lives in California or a sports team. He drew a soccer match between New York and Los Angeles.
- Discuss ahead of time what to write. Kiddo still balks at writing more than the basic "Happy Birthday." That was fine when he was younger, but now I want to encourage him to write more. Sometimes I even write down on scratch paper what we discuss so he
can't claim todoesn't forget it.
- Don't do it at the last minute. Kiddo is quite stubborn. He doesn't always want to sit down at the drop of a hat and make a card for someone else. If I start a few days before the deadline, well, then I have a few tries to catch him in the right mood. Forcing a child to write when they don't want to is hardly conducive to creativity.
- Do not make your child start over! Telling your child he made a mistake just makes the whole endeavor seem like a chore. If he wants a do-over, that's okay. If he wants to just cross it out, or leave it, that's okay, too. Writing the card is supposed to be fun.
- Give your child a chance to use the "good pens." In the photo above you can see I let Kiddo use my precious, precious waterproof Sakura Micron ink pen! (that's an affiliate link)
- Even pre-writers can "write" letters! After he's finished scribbling, New Kids tells me what he wants to say and I write it for him. He's still struggling with writing his name, but he can form the first letter and that's enough for now.
What are your tips for getting kids to write letters at home?