The best way to teach handwriting is to use a kinesthetic approach, which means to actually feel physical movement as it is being carried out. Many students don’t write letters using motor memories…they actually draw the letters while watching how they are forming the letters as they write them. This is not efficient and can really slow the process of writing down.
The best way to learn kinesthetically is to simultaneously visualize and verbalize a movement pattern as the action as it is taking place. Here is an example of how to carry out kinesthetic instruction for letter or number formation. Have the child stand up or sit down in a chair with an upright “tall posture”. The teacher or parent should draw a model of the letter on a chalkboard or white board. Designate the starting point and verbalize the instruction for the letter stroke as it is made. For example, if you are making a lower case b, say, “draw a long line down, and then go around to the right to make a circle”.
After the child observes the demonstration, she should trace over the letter on the chalkboard with eyes open, then with the eyes closed while verbalizing the details of the letter formation at the same time (just as the instructor did). After tracing the letter several times, the child should then practice forming the stroke by “writing it in the air” with a pointer finger, moving the whole arm from the shoulder. The instructor should check to be sure that the motor pattern for the letter is correct before having the child write the letter on paper.
The child can then attempt to write some letters on paper while verbalizing the details of the letter formation again. There should be no erasing, just practice. Kinesthetic reinforcement should focus on the “feel” of the movement patterns so as the child is practicing forming the letter, ask her “how does it feel to form the letter?” When the student can write the letter well, have her try with the eyes closed. Finally, after a row of letters has been completed, the child should evaluate her own work by circling the letters that she feels were formed most accurately. This is a wonderful way to teach handwriting and parents and teachers should try this approach because kinesthetic motor learning is much more efficient than “drawing” letters!