Groans. That is what I heard from my sons when it was time to write anything.
At first I thought I just wasn’t using the best approach to writing for them. Every year when I attended a homeschool convention, I would look for something I thought would get them excited about writing. But the results were the same: whining and procrastination.
Then I decided that my sons’ writing reluctance was a result of immaturity. Writing is an advanced skill. Maybe they just weren’t ready for it?
The Surprising Reason My Kids Hated to Write
I found that I was right on both counts. My kids love funny writing prompts, especially when we read our writing out loud for one another. I was also right that they just weren’t ready for it. Once my sons were in high school, their writing improved dramatically and the complaints stopped.
But as I continued homeschooling the rest of my children, I noticed something else. I am surprised I didn’t see it as the root of my children’s writing reluctance a long time ago.
When a child has slow handwriting speed, he will be a reluctant writer.
My children were able to finish their handwriting pages without much fuss. Both Handwriting Without Tears and Happy Handwriting didn’t require a lot of writing per lesson. The kids were able to form their letters correctly. But they couldn’t write quickly. Their slow handwriting speed made any writing, creative or practical, an agonizing process for them.
My daughter, not surprisingly, did not have the same issue. Her better fine motor skills lent themselves to faster handwriting and an early love of writing. I shared more about the real differences in homeschooling boys on The Homeschool Sanity Show podcast.
How to Increase Your Child’s Handwriting Speed
Get your child’s buy-in. If your child thinks their only goal is to learn to form letters correctly, they will likely experience dislike for writing. Explain that if they learn to write faster, they will be able to finish all of their work faster, including math. If you or your child thinks that handwriting speed is unimportant in this digital age, consider how often you have to complete forms on paper. We have not yet made the transition to keyboarding for every task. Some college professors do not allow their students to take notes on a laptop, for example. Adequate handwriting speed will allow your child to feel confident in any learning setting.
Make sure your child knows how to form the letters. It’s no use trying to increase your child’s handwriting speed if he doesn’t remember how to make the letter K. Don’t allow your child to mindlessly complete handwriting pages. Instead, help your child memorize the way to make each letter. A great way to do this is to use a dry erase board with your child. Use verbal cues for making the letter you’re working on. Have your child repeat them after you as she forms the letter with you. This PDF gives you verbal cues to use if your curriculum doesn’t use them. Keep practicing until your child can form each letter from memory.
Work to increase speed. Handwriting workbooks are focused on the quality of letter formation. To increase speed, your child needs to be encouraged to write quickly and legibly. As long as you can determine the letters he’s written, your child is doing the right thing by increasing speed. First, you’ll need to get a baseline of your child’s handwriting speed. Having your child write as many letters as possible in a minute is a great way to check speed. That baseline will help your child determine his improvement in speed.
Handwriting speed is a lesson in Grammar Galaxy, a language arts curriculum for beginning readers that I created especially for reluctant readers and writers. To get a free copy of the handwriting speed forms, click the button below.
To learn more of the surprising and easy ways to teach kids to write, check out the landing page for this series.