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Handwriting

Your child will start developing the fine motor skills they need to write from a very early age.

You can help by giving your child lots of opportunities to scribble, draw, and colour. At first, using any writing tools to make marks on paper is great practice. However, as your child gets older, handwriting needs to be taught in a consistent way and it is important to develop good habits.

The National Curriculum places emphasis on neat handwriting. During Key Stage 2 SATs, very few marks are awarded for handwriting, but it is still important that writing is legible and accurate during tests. Having good handwriting means that your child can focus on other aspects of writing without having to worry too much about what their writing looks like. Your child might also lose out on marks if assessors have difficulty reading what they have written – for example, they might not be sure if your child has spelt a word correctly or not.

More important than the impact handwriting has on tests, though, is how much good handwriting skills can help improve your child’s writing confidence by making the process of writing simpler and more enjoyable.

What your child will learn

Follow the links below for an overview of each year, with lots of information, support, and practice activities:

Handwriting in Year 1 (age 5–6)

In Year 1, your child will learn to correctly use a pencil and to form basic letter shapes. This includes:

  • sitting correctly and using the right grip
  • forming lowercase and capital letters
  • forming the digits 0–9.

More information and activity ideas for Year 1 >

Handwriting in Year 2 (age 6–7)

In Year 2, your child will learn to form letters at the right size and to join letters when appropriate. This includes:

  • forming lowercase and capital letters at the right size relative to one another
  • starting to use diagonal and horizontal strokes to join letters
  • using appropriate spacing between words.

 More information and activity ideas for Year 2 >

Handwriting in Year 3 (age 7–8)

In Year 3, your child will start developing fluent handwriting skills, making their writing more consistent and easier to read. This includes:

  • joining letters whenever appropriate
  • making sure that letters look consistent throughout writing
  • keeping the spacing between lines of writing parallel and consistent.

More information and activity ideas for Year 3 >

Handwriting in Year 4 (age 8–9)

In Year 4, the National Curriculum expectations for handwriting are similar to what they are in Year 3. So your child will build upon their learning by continuing to develop fluent handwriting skills, making their writing more consistent and easier to read. This includes:

  • joining letters whenever appropriate
  • making sure that letters look consistent throughout writing
  • keeping the spacing between lines of writing parallel and consistent.

More information and activity ideas for Year 4 >

Handwriting in Year 5 (age 9–10)

In Year 5, your child will develop fluent, joined-up writing. This includes:

  • choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
  • choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

More information and activity ideas for Year 5 >

Handwriting in Year 6 (age 10–11)

In Year 6, the National Curriculum expectations for handwriting are similar to what they are in Year 5. So, your child your child will build upon their learning by continuing to develop fluent, joined-up writing. This includes:

  • choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
  • choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

More information and activity ideas for Year 6 >

How to help at home

There are lots of ways you can help your child with handwriting. Here are our top ideas.

1. Create a book

Give your child the chance to make their very own book! Fold a few sheets of paper in half and staple down the length of the fold. Suggest that they fill it with their own story and pictures. It could be based on one of their favourite stories.

Alternatively, they could make a non-fiction book about something they are interested in, using photos if they don’t like drawing. If this seems daunting, suggest they make a scrap book and write labels and notes next to the things they collect.

2. Get crafty

Continue to encourage your child to draw, colour, paint, and do crafting activities at home using a range of different materials. These activities all provide opportunities to develop control, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

3. Check handwriting style

Be sure to find out what handwriting style your child is learning at school. Consistency is key, so it is important not to correct something that you think is an error but that is actually part of the style your child is learning.

4. Make time to write

Encourage your child to keep a diary, writing a sentence or two for every day. They might feel more enthusiastic about this idea if you let them decorate and personalise a plain notebook to make it their own.

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