Handwriting Matters or Maybe it Doesn’t


Some of my children have beautiful handwriting and some don’t.

“What are you going to do when you go to university? Your tutor won’t spend time trying to decipher your essays. If he can’t read them, you’ll fail.”

My eldest children went to university. “Handwritten assignments aren’t accepted, Mum. See, I didn’t need good handwriting after all!”

So I was wrong. Times have changed. Good typing skills are now more valuable than beautiful handwriting. Even I don’t handwrite much these days. I type most things. So how can I insist my children acquire a skill they don’t see me using? Mostly my children type their stories and blog posts just like I do.

But at some point they have all decided that they’d like to learn cursive writing regardless. Usually they notice a friend can do ‘running’ writing and they want to be able to do the same. Maybe cursive writing makes them feel more grown up. And then I offer to show them how…

I have taught my children the basics of ‘running’ writing in a very relaxed manner which probably accounts for the fact some of them have less than perfect handwriting! No one liked using handwriting workbooks. And no one, especially me, liked the Foundation font, used in those books.

All I do is write a few sentences on a page: the more interesting the words, the better. After showing my children how to form the letters and join them together, they then copy them out.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have children with perfect handwriting?  I imagine someone saying: “Wow! Your children write so beautifully!” I can just see the big satisfied smile on my face. I feel so proud of my children and my teaching methods… but that’s all a dream. I have let go of all that. These days I try not to fuss and nag and criticise. I have learnt not to insist on perfection. I have decided that handwriting can always be improved if they ever decide there’s a need.

But if anyone does want help, I am there with suggestions and I am always on the lookout for useful resources to strew in their pathway…

The other day I found something I’d never seen before: adhesive clear sheets with guide lines for practising handwriting.  I bought a pack plus a clipboard to stick one to. Then I waved the board in Gemma-Rose’s general direction.
“What’s that?”

“It’s something to practise cursive writing on.”

“Cursive writing? Could you show me how to do that?”

I wrote ‘Gemma’ on a line using a fine-pointed black white-board marker, showing Gemma-Rose how to form each letter and join them up. A little while later she had a whole page of ‘Gemmas’.

A day later and she wanted to know how to write ‘Rose’.


There were three adhesive sheets in the packet. When Sophie realised this, she asked if she could have one. “If I had a sheet and a clipboard and a marker like Gemma-Rose, I could improve my handwriting,” she said.

So for a few days my youngest girls have been writing away. Soon Gemma-Rose should be able to write cursively and maybe Sophie’s writing will become more presentable. And I won’t have had to nag her once about her messy writing. 

I just love self-motivated learning, don’t you?

So does handwriting matter? Perhaps I will come to regret my relaxed attitude. Is beautiful handwriting a skill worth insisting on? What do you think?

In case anyone is interested, I bought the adhesive handwriting sheets in Big W for $10 

Here’s an interesting link: Sandra Dodd talking about Cursive, Unschooling, Change, Musings


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