Handwriting is more than what you are thinking about.
Let's understand some facts before we go on to improve the handwriting of your 11 year old son.
- Handwriting is a mode of communication.
- Handwriting needs lot of co-ordination of different parts of the brain and your body.
- Learning to write depends on the fine motor development of the child and proper techniques to write.
- Almost everyone can make out a poor handwriting from a beautiful handwriting but most of us cannot tell why a handwriting is looking shabby or poor.
So what in the handwriting makes you feel that your child's writing is not good?
Just a look at the handwriting of your child will tell you what makes it un-beautiful
(if that is a word). Two major reasons make the handwriting look less attractive
- Variation: If there is too much of variation in the handwriting about any aspect the handwriting will not look good. For example;
- if the handwriting slant keeps changing i.e. some letters tilt towards the left and some letters towards the right.
- if the handwriting size keeps varying i.e. some letters are big and some are too small.
- if the pressure keeps changing i.e. Some letters are written with heavy pressure and some with less pressure.
- if word spacing keeps changing i.e. space between two words keep changing from narrow to far off spacing.
- if letter spacing in the words keeps changing i.e. space between two letters in the words keep changing from narrow to far off spacing.
- if the basline is not maintained i.e. if the writing is sometimes touching the ruled lines of the notebook and sometimes the writing floats above or cuts the lines.
- Extreme: Anything done in excess will make the handwriting look less than beautiful.
- Too much of slant either to left or right will make the writing difficult to read and thus visually less appealing.
- Too small or large writing
- Too heavy or light pressure
- Too much of word space
- Too much of letter space
- Extremely angular writing
- Too much of scratching or overwriting etc
After finding out what exactly makes the handwriting look shabby, poor or less beautiful then you can focus on improving the child's handwriting.
Some skills develop with practice and some with precautions
The grasp: Your child should be helped to develop the right grasp.
What is the correct way to hold the pen?
It is called the dynamic tripod grasp.
Please note that the child may be able to write in a good handwriting with a wrong grasp but that will create strain on the fingers and prolonged writing can hurt.
Correcting the grasp at early age is very important.
(Don't expect your 3 year old to have a perfect dynamic tripod grasp but for a 11 year old kid the grasp has to be correct.)
Posture: Posture is an often ignored aspect of handwriting. Posture affects the handwriting. The appropriate posture is called the 4 right angled posture.
When your child is sitting and writing observe the angles made at the following parts of his body. They should be 90 degrees or at right angles. If they are not please correct them.
If your child's legs are floating in air when he sits on his chair to write, find some block or stool upon which he can rest his feet to make an angle of 90 degrees at his ankles.
The paper on which the child is writing should be tilted at 45 degrees away from the writing hand.
The illumination should be appropriate and from the non writing hand side. Light should preferably be falling from back over the shoulder so that the light source is not in the sight.
The non writing hand: The non writing hand is the left hand for the right handed and right hand for the left handed child. It should be resting to give the upper body support while writing.
After taking care of all above factors that affect the child's writing you are all set to start handwriting improvement.
What practice will improve the handwriting?
Practicing some patterns like sleeping and standing lines, garlands and arcades, fish movements, angles etc initially can develop interest of the child in handwriting improvement.
The daily activity of handwriting practice should focus on one or two aspects at a time.
If your child has issues in handwriting like variable handwriting slant and variable word spacing; focus on the slant initially and ignore the spacing issue.
Once the child becomes aware and improves on one aspect move to the next aspect.
Use a four line notebook only if the child has issues with the zones of the writing. In all other cases for an 11 year old child four lined notebook is not required.