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Handwriting in Year 1 (age 5–6)

In Year 1, your child will learn to correctly use a pencil, to form letters and numbers, and to write words. Read on to discover the National Curriculum expectations for handwriting in Year 1, and to find out how you can support your child at home.

What your child will learn

In Year 1 (age 5–6), your child will learn to:

  • sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly
  • form lowercase letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place
  • form capital letters
  • form digits 0–9
  • understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ (letters that are formed in similar ways)
  • leave spaces between words.

How to help at home

There are lots of ways you can help your Year 1 child with handwriting. Here are our top ideas.

1. Practise getting ready to write

Make sure your child has a straight-backed chair to sit ion and a table/desk at the right height for sitting to write or do homework.

If your child is left handed, encourage them to hold their pencils far enough away from the point to allow them to see what they are writing. For right-handers a tripod grip is generally accepted as the most efficient way of holding a pen or pencil, and it works well for left-handers too.

Take a look at the diagrams below for instructions on the tripod grip for both left-handers and right-handers.

Tripod grip for left-handers

Tripod grip for right-handers

2. Check handwriting style

Be sure to find out what handwriting style your child is learning at school. Consistency is essential at this stage, 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.

3. Make time to write

Create opportunities for your child to practise handwriting. For example, ask them to write a message in a greetings card or suggest that they add words or labels to their pictures. Help them to make a sign for their bedroom or a helpful notice for somewhere else in the house.

Activity: Practice tramlines

Print out these tramlines for your child to practise neat handwriting.

Activity: Words to practise in Year 1

High-frequency word flashcards for your Year 1 child to practise writing.