Practice Exercises for Adults, Teens, and Older Kids to Improve Handwriting
Can I Improve My Handwriting as an Adult?
If you are an adult and want to improve your handwriting, it can be done. Don't think it's possible? Simply scroll down to discover some of my handwriting samples and to see the basic exercises I used to improve my writing.
I hated writing notes. I'd text, email, write on walls—whatever it took to avoid leaving a handwritten note, because my handwriting embarrassed me.
A few months ago, I decided to turn my attention to my handwriting. While most people still think my writing is less than spectacular, I am unimaginably proud of my progress. Admittedly, I don't devote enough time to handwriting improvement—I simply don't have the time to practice consistently. Even with my limited time resources, I've managed to improve my handwriting by using a handwriting manual designed for adults and performing specific handwriting improvement exercises.
So, can you improve your handwriting as an adult? Read on to learn more!
Is it Too Late for an Older Child, Teen, or Adult to Improve Their Handwriting?
The answer is no, it isn't too late. A motivated person of any age can improve their handwriting with regular practice. The key words here are motivated and regular.
- Older kids (middle school age) with poor handwriting can improve their writing with exercises that build fine motor skills. It is also worthwhile, as a parent or teacher, to explore why the child has poor writing. We'll discuss this more below.
- Teens can use fine motor skill exercises too. The handwriting exercises below will help teens to slow down and focus on making their letters legible.
- Adults (and teens) can use mobile apps to practice handwriting anywhere. See below for more details.
Handwriting Mistakes to Avoid
When you set out to improve your handwriting or help an older kid, there are a few basic things to avoid. These are common mistakes that will frustrate, not help:
- Don't use a handwriting manual designed for children. These manuals usually instruct how to write in awkwardly large letters and don't help much. When the writer already knows how to form letters, these guides aren't appropriate.
- Don't try to simply copy a script you find online.
- Don't try to practice cursive script by writing the letters in order and attempting to make them join. It just doesn't work well.
What You'll Need to Fix Your Handwriting
- Narrow-ruled or college-lined, loose-leaf paper. That's right, narrow-ruled. You might be thinking, "how can having such a narrow space to write in help someone with poor handwriting?" Narrow lines force an older kid or adult to make their letters smaller. Smaller generally means less messy. The trick is to skip lines. This will make it easier to focus on making neat letters, without crowding.
- Pencil grippers. Choose whichever shape you like. This will help you keep a good hold on the pencil.
- A slant board. Writing at an angle will tilt your wrist upward, which promotes finger movement.
Handwriting Practice Drills
1. Parallel Lines
First, fill a page up with parallel lines. Focus on keeping them parallel and the same length. One of my major handwriting problems was that my letters tilted every which way. Some were straight, others leaned backwards, and still others lunged forward. By practicing these lines, you can better learn to keep down strokes parallel to one another.
2. Horizontal Lines
After filling a few pages with vertical lines, switch to horizontal lines next. Try to fit three horizontal lines on each line of the paper while focusing on making the lines parallel and the same length. This exercise will help you maintain control of your pen.
The third exercise is more difficult than it looks -- you basically want to create little clouds. I try to make each set of clouds fit inside a line on a piece of college-ruled paper. This will help you form curves and keep letters the same height as other letters.
These three basic exercises are just the beginning. I worked on them for about two weeks before I even looked at the more complex exercises in my handwriting book. I filled page after page with lines and squiggles, and I still practice these drills when I have a free minute.
Links to Help a Teen or Adult Improve Handwriting
Improving Handwriting for Middle School Students and Teens
When an older child or teen has poor writing, it pays to ask why.
- Do they rush? It's worth looking at whether the child tends to rush through most tasks without completing satisfactorily. This is a separate issue that should be addressed.
- Do they write neatly sometimes? It may be a motivation issue. Do they dislike school or certain subjects?
- Could fine motor skills be an issue? Try the exercises below.
Fine Motor Exercises for Better Handwriting
- Get an old newspaper and separate into sheets. Crumple each sheet individually, using just one hand (watch out for the ink this will leave on your fingers!).
- Get a piece of molding clay. Break into small pieces of the same size, using your writing hand. Then make a triangle with you thumb, pointer, and middle finger. Use these fingers to roll each piece of clay into a small ball.
- Get a tennis ball. Starting on the floor next to your foot, "walk" the ball up your leg until you reach your hip.
Guides, Books, and Manuals That Work
How-To Books for Improving Writing
A good handwriting manual can do several things for you. It can:
- Help you self-diagnose your writing problems so you know what to focus on;
- Give you tips and tricks on how to make yourself more comfortable and relaxed while writing;
- Demonstrate alternate writing pen grips;
- Teach you how to correctly form your letters; and
- Show you ways to join your letters neatly.
I can't over-stress the importance of purchasing a handwriting manual for adults or teens. I've always wanted to improve my writing, but had no idea how to start. I tried copying script fonts and writing the alphabet over and over again, but I grew frustrated, not better at writing. The drills shown above are an important first step to improving your writing but once you've mastered them, you need to follow a handwriting guide if you really want to better your writing.
Handwriting Manual: Teach Yourself Better Handwriting
The main book I use is called Teach Yourself Better Handwriting. I like it because it focuses on helping you maintain a personal writing style, instead of forcing you to conform to some ideal. It also has an easy to follow alphabet, alternative ways to form some letters, and suggestions on how to begin improving your writing if it is so atrocious you can't even follow the basic drills.
Handwriting Manual: Fix It Write
Fix It Write is another fantastic handwriting resource. It comes three-hole-punched and ready to insert in a 3-ring binder. It also focuses on improving an adult's handwriting and has two separate sections -- one for helping those who only print join their letters together, and another for those who want to develop a classic cursive penmanship style. The book provides daily exercises to keep you on track and improving -- it's pretty cool to be able to look back to day 1 and see how far you've come.
I promised handwriting samples, so here they are. I don't practice my writing as much as I'd like, and I tend to write in a semi-cursive manner, so my new writing is not beautiful. It is, however, legible. It is also a work in progress. Hopefully I can continue updating this hub as my writing improves more.
For now, here are the samples:
My "Before" Writing
My "After" Writing
Is Handwriting Important?
Many people automatically assume that, in today's high-tech world, handwriting is obsolete. However, this is far from true—handwriting is still an important skill today for several reasons:
- Your handwriting is uniquely you. It is your way of marking your individuality in an increasingly typed world.
- Each year, poor handwriting costs businesses a great deal of money. One study in the 1990s by American Demographics estimated $200 millions dollars wasted each year by US businesses because of illegible writing. From un-deliverable mail to misread prescriptions, poor writing is bad for business.
- Students with legible writing typically will receive higher grades on tests and essays.
- People might automatically associate poor handwriting with low intelligence/poor education -- no matter how intelligent or well educated the author actually is.
- Good handwriting can also promote self confidence.
Do you believe good handwriting is still important?
You Can Improve Your Handwriting!
There you have it—proof that even an adult with the world's worst writing can learn to write legibly. Coworkers have actually started commenting on my handwriting and noting its increased legibility! After I master legible, I'm going for beautiful.
If an adult can do it, then so can a motivated middle-schooler or teen!
Does your writing embarrass you? Are you ready to take charge of your writing and turn it into something you're proud of? You can do it!