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How to teach handwriting without destroying self esteem

This is a collaborative post.

Isn’t it amazing what an impact a seemingly insignificant moment can have on your life?

For me, it was a decision taken by a primary school teacher. When all my friends moved up into the next class after the summer, I was to go into a different class with children a year older than me.

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Handwriting and self-esteem

I went into that class as a confident child with lots of friends who was doing well academically. I could read well for my age and my writing and drawing were fine. But that was the problem. As one of the youngest in my school year, I had just turned six years old. My fine motor skills were where they should be for a six year old, and I found myself in a class with seven and eight year olds.

And that wasn’t all, my new teacher was a stickler for handwriting. Nothing I did was ever good enough. The teacher criticised every letter I wrote, it wasn’t neat enough. The children criticised every picture I drew because mine were nowhere near as good as theirs. And socially, I was utterly inadequate. They were a close group who had been together since starting school, and I was an outsider.

Luckily, a new girl started in that class with me. She was the same school year as me, although she was the older end of the year so a lot more able. We became good friends and I’m not sure how I would have got through that year without her.

Getting it right

Because of my experience, I have a slightly biased view of the importance of handwriting. I know it needs to be legible but I can’t help wondering whether that should be enough. That’s why I was interested to read some facts about the importance of handwriting from uni-ball. They also share some top tips for improving handwriting in children.

Handwriting | Does your child struggle with handwriting and do you think it is as important for children today who are living in a digital age? Find out why handwriting is important and get some great tips and worksheets to help them to improve their writing, whether they're just starting out or trying to improve their letter formation.

I was particularly interested to read that handwriting is important as a fine motor skill as well as a standalone skill. The fine motor skills learnt from handwriting create connections within the brain. And reading through their tips got me thinking, perhaps I’m going about this the wrong way.

Instead of trying to protect my children from a similar experience by not focussing on handwriting, maybe I should be helping them to improve it. Lia has no interest in writing and at three, I think that’s fine. But Libby is a little older. She is at school and her handwriting isn’t too bad, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Handwriting worksheets

If your children could do with a little extra help, Uni-ball have some great handwriting worksheets. They range from exercises for stronger hands to basic mark making, and right through to letter formation.

I like the idea of doing this at home in a pressure-free environment. Perhaps this will make it a little easier when they get to school.

And one final thought from me. I lived in France for a year and taught English to a six year old girl. From the day she started school, she was taught joined-up writing in the classic French style. Over there, everybody writes the same way. This removes the concern about finding your own neat, fast writing style. But does it also remove the creative element that children gain from handwriting? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Handwriting | Does your child struggle with handwriting and do you think it is as important for children today who are living in a digital age? Find out why handwriting is important and get some great tips and worksheets to help them to improve their writing, whether they're just starting out or trying to improve their letter formation.


Please note, this is a collaborative post with uni-ball. All views, opinions and sob-stories are my own.


  1. September 5, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    You’ve just inspired a blog post from me. I started commenting and it was so long I created a post over on my writer page, as it’s quite an interesting point.
    I think handwriting is as individual as a person, and we all develop our own style like we have our own personality.
    I’ve linked back to you over on my blog. X

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:12 am

      Thanks so much for linking, I loved reading your post too.

  2. September 5, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    We were always forced to join up our writing at school and I hated it! I always felt that it made my writing look scruffy, so even now I don’t join my letters up.

    I’m also left handed. I don’t know if this makes any difference to how I write or form my letters.

    Lovely post

    • September 5, 2017 / 5:00 pm

      That’s exactly the problem I had, Melanie! I’m a leftie too

      • September 14, 2017 / 7:12 am

        Oh isn’t it a shame they couldn’t cater for that?

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:12 am

      I remember you not writing joined up now, I do like your writing though!

  3. September 5, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    Hi Nat, I went to a middle school where the headmaster was a stickler for neat handwriting. We all had to use proper ink pens and were taught to write in Italic style, which I never got the hang of. Needless to say, I spent many a dinner hour (with others) having extra practice using an old dip in the ink well nibbed pen, my writing never got any better. The joy I felt when I went up to high school and was allowed to use good old biros was overwhelming and my writing improved.

    These days with access to things like handwriting sheets, that help encourage children to practice their writing, at the tip of our fingers things are much different and more fun. There is a lot to be said for learning in a no pressure environment.


    • September 14, 2017 / 7:11 am

      Yes I totally agree, it’s great when there’s not too much pressure, much easier to learn.

  4. September 6, 2017 / 8:24 am

    I like that handwriting is individual and I won’t be asking my two to write in any particular way, as long as it’s legible. I think the problem is that we use computers so often that handwriting is sidelined a bit. My eldest can’t write well yet, but I know he’s starting to get the hang of it, he’s always struggled with fine motor skills.

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:09 am

      Yes you’re right, it does get sidelined but I do think it’s still important. I hope your son finds it easier soon.

  5. September 6, 2017 / 9:04 am

    How awful to move you up to be with much older kids! It sounds like that could really have destroyed your confidence.
    Handwriting is a subject close to my heart. My son’s has been a problem ever since he started school and is still a problem now as he starts year 12. It has really held him back, but he was given permission to use a laptop for his exams.

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:08 am

      Oh it’s great that he could use a laptop for exams, I do hope that was beneficial.

  6. September 7, 2017 / 9:27 pm

    I like that handwriting is an individual thing. When it’s my birthday I can tell whose card it is from their handwriting on the envelope. Alice loves to write and I’ve been encouraging her, she has always held her pen the write way. I think she has quite a natural ability. x

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:03 am

      Yes that’s true, it’s always fun to guess who things are from based on the handwriting!

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