Once your child has mastered pre-handwriting patterns they are ready to learn how to form letters, numbers and symbols.
In UK primary schools we only use the manuscript font style for capital letters, but schools mainly teach print, cursive or continuous cursive fonts for lower case letters.
We would recommend you teach lower case letters first.
Click on the beginner or refiner level animations below to see all the letters and to print the practice worksheets.
The first stage (Beginners) is learning to move a pencil in the correct directional sequence of movements; don’t worry about the size of the letters. Once the letters can be formed, your child needs to focus on the size and position of the letters in relation to each other (Refiners).
On this web site we have used coloured strips to provide visual clues for your child, helping to develop their understanding of letter placement and size. For early years and ks1 children the animations and handwriting practice worksheets have picture clues to help learn where on the line to place the letters, for ks1 and ks2 children just colour clues are included.
Your child is ready to learn how to handwrite letters once they can form, without difficulty, all of the pre-handwriting letter patterns.
Initially learning to form letters is a less formal affair, using a range of media and game type activities e.g. drawing letters with paints or in sand. The important thing is to model and explain how to make the letter shapes with the correct start point, directional flow of the tool, or hand, and finish point.
Once your child is ready to start sitting at a desk to handwrite it is important to ensure that their sitting position and table height are correct for them. At this stage they also need to be taught body and paper position. It is also a good idea to check their pencil grip in relation to their developmental stage and age.
Usually at this stage your child will have a definite hand preference, being left or right handed (hand dominance). At the beginning of foundation stage (age 4 years) not showing a preferred hand dominance is not an issue, however as they come to the end of foundation stage (age 5 years) it can make life a little more difficult for them. Again by this stage if your child is swapping hands through a task they may need a little help in developing their hand dominance.
Letters are created through joining lines and curve shapes in a particular way. They have a designated start point and set directional pushes and pulls of the pencil to reach the designated finish point. This is why we teach letter formation in groups/families rather than in alphabetical order. Certain groups use the same, or similar, shape and directional push and pulls of the pencil to form the letter, for instance the letter c has the same start point and anti-clockwise directional movement shape that is needed to create the letters a, d, g, o and, though a little more complicated, the letters s and e. Teaching letters in groups and families can also help to limit letter reversals such as b and d.
It is important to learn how to form letters correctly to begin with as this makes the transition from single letter formation to joined letter handwriting much easier.
Once your child has mastered and is able to form lower case letters of a consistent size, and have them correctly positioned in relation to one another, they are ready to learn how to join their writing.