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Teaching Handwriting


Do handwriting little and often. Develop gross motor control in the early years.


Talk about movements

Show how to make large shoulder movements

Make different body shapes

‘going round and round’

‘springing up and sliding down’

‘long and slow’

‘quick and jumpy’

Fix ribbons to the end of sticks  - swirl them in the air


Batting balls suspended on rope

Making big patterns in sand and soapy paint

Painting at an easel

In response to music make big body shapes – long and stretched, small and tight, wavy


Developing letter shapes using gross motor control movements

Sky or air writing


Making letter shapes

Reinforce vocabulary of movement

With the right hand

With the left hand

Use a teaching assistant or confident child to model the letter shape – teacher stands behind and checks who cannot copy

In damp sand – teacher makes the shape; child traces over lightly, then again, then to bottom of tray

‘curly caterpillar’ ‘long ladder’ ‘one-armed robot’ ; if using Jolly Phonics link to handwriting advice in book


Foundation Stage

Patterns –pegboards

l,c and r patterns

l= bouncing noise

c= buzzing

r= wavy pattern (sh,sh)






Using tweezers to pick up things


on paper -

fish, kite,balloon

Using clay, playdough,


Variety of pens, pencils, brushes

Small construction


Finger rhymes, counting fingers



Sprinkling glitter

Use thick marker pens

Cut out large letter shapes

Water painting walls, sheds

Observe and Teach The Reception Year: a checklist for the early stages


Correct formation of children’s names

Help with moving from the top to the bottom of a letter

Pick up the pencil themselves and decide which hand they prefer

Help with anti-clockwise movement

Help with pencil grip

Give a large piece of paper with a line

Left to right directionality

Link letter shapes with sounds: air writing, writing with paint, large pens, etc


shape  families  for   teaching letter formation


Down and off in another direction

i , j , l , t , u , (v , w ) with rounded bases

Down and retrace upwards

b , h , (k) looped , m , n , p , r ,                                2 , 3 and 5 follow a clockwise direction

Anti-clockwise round

c , a , d , e , g , o , q , f , s                                       0 . 6 , 8 , 9

Zigzag letters

(k) straight, v , w , x , y , z                                      1 . 4 , 7


f and s can be taught separately

b and d may need some extra help!!!! 


Left-handed children: give them more attention


Model left handed air writing

Sit left handed children on the left of right handed children

Put a green mark at the left side of the page to show where writing begins

Experiment with seat height

Pencil to sit in the ‘v’ between thumb and forefinger

Straight wrist

To avoid smudging when using a pen, position fingers 1.5 cms from end of pen

Ascenders and descenders

  • Use lined paper

  • The bits of letters which sit on lines are the same size as a letter x – g , j , p , q , y

  • In most styles, the letter t is shorter than the other ascenders b , d , h , k , l

Joined-up Writing


 As soon as possible once children are secure in the movements of each letter

If using entry points from the beginnning, still observe and teach correct letter formation and joins


At, am ,  it , in , up make good starting points


Digraphs can be practised as joined units e.g. ee , ai , ay 


High frequency words need to be written as wholes as soon as possible – ‘quickwrite’ on small whiteboards


Most letters use diagonal lines to join e.g. man , child


Joining into n and m  are tricky – children tend to move into base  of the letter rather than to the top of the letter


Draw attention to letters which join from the top: o , v , w


Letter e can vary its shape  - a loop shape following a letter d ; traditional e shape following an f


Many styles do not join after letters that finish to the left (s , b , j , g , y )


Year 2 objectives – practise the four basic handwriting joins

  • Diagonal joins to letters without ascenders e.g. ai, ar , un

  • Horizontal joins to letters without ascenders e.g. ou , vi , wi

  • Diagonal joins to letters with ascenders e.g. ab , ul , it

  • Horizontal joins to letters with ascenders e.g. ol , wh , ot


Posture and Pencil Grip

  • Ensure that they have a good pencil grip: relaxed yet still having control

  • Hold pencil between thumb and forefinger with the pencil resting on the third finger

  • Slight movement of thumb and forefinger should be possible

  • Watch for those children who grip the pencil too tightly

  • If using pencil grips, monitor their use


Check that tables are large enough


Check the height of tables and chairs so that children can sit:

with their feet flat on the floor

  • legs should be free

  • legs should not contact the underside of the table

  • should be able to sit up at the table without having to lean over it


Good lighting


Direct view of the teacher/board


Use non-writing hand to steady the paper & bear some body weight


Slight tilt to paper


Provide a slanting board for those who need it