We just had our Children’s Handwriting Class earlier this afternoon, which was a lot of fun! We had a few kids come over to the shop and I was a bit more prepared this time with some folders and worksheets and my favourite stickers. I learned about pet hamsters and new teachers for the school year, and the kids practised some cursive writing in purple and green and pink ink.
Inspired by kids learning cursive writing, of course I think about all you adults out there. We do offer calligraphy classes, but I’m more talking about ‘regular’ handwriting for taking notes at the office or writing a letter to your grandmother. We sometimes get customers who come in to get a fountain pen because they have an interest in improving their handwriting, and so having the right tools is important.
For a lot of us, we sometimes think we’d like to improve our handwriting (we’d like to lose weight, we’d like to clean out the garage, we’d like to…), but we just haven’t found that perfect starting point. When people ask how to improve their handwriting, the short answer is: there is no magic – it’s just practice, practice, practice.
Seeing a group of kids in front of me, admittedly some more eagerly than others, picking up their pens to practise their e’s and i’s and t’s over and over is a great reminder that handwriting is a skill that can be learned at any age. In case you needed some encouragement, I thought I would put together some general tips to learning cursive writing or just improving your handwriting in general.
- Find a pen you like. You could even have a dedicated pen for this purpose, so it becomes a treat to practise your handwriting.
- Get a notebook that you can use just for your practice. I find larger A4 sized notebooks are good because you have lots of room for your hand and wrist to get full lines and sentences in. By having a notebook or even a binder of pages, you can also see your own progress.
- Seyes ruled paper is great, but if that’s not your thing, graph paper is also good. This helps you form consistently sized letters. Write large (rather than your current size), so you can get a better view of how you are forming your letters and compare it to how you should be forming your letters. Finding graph paper or even writing on every other line may help you to do this.
- Write slowly. Take your time forming your letters correctly – if you just practise the same way you’re currently writing, then you probably won’t see too much improvement or change.
- Try not to grip the pen so hard, which I know can be difficult when you’re trying to focus at the same time. The harder you squeeze your pen, the more jagged and jerky your letters become, and the more difficult it is to create flowing letters.
- Go to your local library and get a physical book with samples of cursive writing and how to correctly form the letters. I’d like to do a separate post on the resources out there that are the most helpful, but I think I need a bit more time to try them out myself, and also maybe take a few photos so you can see what’s in the pages.
You can find a lot on the internet, especially videos, but it’s nice to have a paper reference to look back and forth at, without having to rewind to see what direction the strokes are in. Also a paper book is nice for a cafe visit 😉
- Copy out your favourite poems, essays or even write out the words you hear while you’re watching Netflix at night. Try not to zone out too much though, since you should take care as you form each letter.
There are a lot of reasons for wanting to improve your handwriting. For kids, I think it’s important to have mastered handwriting in order to think and learn and write about ideas rather than expending your brain energy on the physical writing, and also for self-confidence. And actually, for adults, I guess it’s basically the same thing. But it’s also because with some effort, your handwriting can be a beautiful thing.
And, if you have a kid in Toronto, ages about 8-14, they can always come to our free Children’s Handwriting Classes, held once a month! Start ’em young 🙂
A few posts ago you had written about keeping daily “morning pages” which is a habit I have attempted to keep. I have noticed that the nature of the pen make a huge difference on writing appearance: soft or springy vs firm nib, fine vs medium nib. I liked the idea of a soft fine nib, but my writing actually looks much neater with a firm and wet writer (perhaps because I am less inclined to press the pen into paper when there is no give to the nib?). Just some thoughts!
That’s a great point! You’re definitely right about the subconsciously (or maybe consciously) trying to use the flexibility of the nib to give a bit of line variation, which can be a bit distracting if you’re also trying to focus on the basic form of the letters that you’re writing. I may have to do a follow up to this blog post, and I’ll have to include a few thoughts on the nibs used. Thanks so much for taking the time to write 🙂
I’ve always struggled with my handwriting, partly because I tend to grip hard. Nobody ever told me gripping hard makes the letters jagged but that makes so much sense. Going to practice my handwriting more .
Good luck with the practice! Sometimes it takes a few mental reminders to loosen up, but I also find my hand and fingers are much less tired and cramped after writing when I’m holding my pen loosely in my hand 🙂
I always grip my writing implements far too hard. I’ll try to remember to hold it more loosely and let the ink flow more. I’ll let you know how I get on.
I picked up a set of these:
(well two sets, one for me and one for a friend so we could practice together) and have been using them to teach myself cursive writing because I never actually learned in school. I’m on book 3 of 5 and I can already see huge improvements. I can actually write words in cursive now!
I’ve heard of these, but haven’t actually seen one myself! I think I’ll have to pick one up to take a look – thanks so much for the recommendation 🙂
Would you guys need any volunteers for future events coming soon? i’m always available 😀
Hmmm…we don’t have any events coming up! But I think Jon has your contact, and he will let you know 🙂
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Writing slowly works for me. If I carefully focus on each line and curve and each and every change in direction and each start and stop and each part of each letter I can write well enough that others can read it. It takes 2 to 3 minutes per sentence and still looks ragged.
Thanks for sharing your tip! Going slowly always helps my writing as well, and I’m hoping over time going slowly will teach my finger muscles the “proper” way, and I’ll be able to speed up a bit 🙂