Help..My child writes sloppy & in a hurry... what to do?

Phonics, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and more!

Moderators: Theodore, elliemaejune

Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 12:28 am

Help..My child writes sloppy & in a hurry... what to do?

Postby teachermom_2 » Mon Dec 24, 2007 12:46 am

My daughter hates writing. She is 9 and her handwriting is sloppy. We have tried to work on this but nothing seems to help. When she really , really tries, she can write nicely. She seems to rush through writing anything just to get it over and done with, which makes for a messy paper. We have talked about neatness, I have made her redo the work neater, but the very next time it is the same thing! I really need some advise to help her write neater. Please! Any advise is appreciated!!!!!!

Posts: 427
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 5:51 am

Postby Lily » Mon Dec 24, 2007 7:18 am

This is important, yes? The writing neat? And she is well aware of the standards, i.e. having a sheet of directions that include neatness as a point?

Then I would simply say, "that is not acceptable." and give the paper back every time. No arguments, no fighting - the standards are known so there's no reason to rehash the information.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."
- M. Montessori
Proud non-member of the HSLDA

Posts: 418
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:16 am

Re: Help..My child writes sloppy & in a hurry... what to

Postby Ramona » Mon Dec 24, 2007 11:59 am

I don't know about other parents, but the problem was us when this came up in our family.

Not that we don't write neatly when we need to, but when did our kids ever see anything that we'd written neatly? All they ever saw of our handwriting was phone messages, and other notes jotted to ourselves crosswise while holding armfuls of stuff and using the weak hand. I may be exaggerating slightly, but see what I mean?

I even used to always write my remarks on their schoolwork diagonally, so they had no sense that the lines on lined paper are to be used.

I had to make myself write everything neatly for a few months because my children really do learn everything by example, even handwriting.


User avatar
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:02 pm
Location: Denmark

I Agree With Lily...

Postby bardoville » Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:40 pm

... There's nothing to discuss. If you know that that is the expected standard then you re-do it.
Private Tutoring

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:13 pm
Location: San Diego

Postby Linda » Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:06 pm

How about if she uses the computer to type her papers? There are some good typing programs available (some for free). My girls were about that age when they learned to type and now they do all of their work on the computer. The finished project is better and neater! Go to for some typing program suggestions.

Good luck!

Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:08 pm
Location: MD

Postby sunnie_skys » Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:13 pm

Start a story book with her. Start a story then she adds to it and it keeps going and going and going.

Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:22 am
Location: Colorado

Postby MrBill » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:16 pm

My hand writing has always been bad, even when I was writing dozens of pages of day. I was forced to do over elementary school work time and time again, and all it succeeded in doing was making me hate school.

It never held me back, and not a single college instructor ever asked for a hand written assignment, as a matter of fact, hand written essays and reports are simply not acceptable in college no matter how wonderful the writers penmanship is.

I've never had a job that required precious handwriting.
Can you name one that does?

The more you antagonize your child over hand writing the more they will resist.

Focus on communication skills and comprehension, not eye/hand coordination and perfectionism and you will have much less stress in your life, and especially in your child's life.

Perfectionist attitude is going to lead to a depressed kid who always has the impression that they are never going to be good enough every time they put their pen to the page.

Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 10:51 pm
Location: Small town in Arkansas

Postby Miss_Kristy » Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:35 pm

I agree with MrBill.... I was waiting for someone else to suggest this actually since I'm new and don't want to step on any toes. :P My son who is 8 now had a horrible time last year in PS because of his handwriting. He's a very bright child, a math wiz really, but all his teacher seemed to focus on was his "bad" handwriting. I got notes sent home to me at least twice a week about it and Parent\Teacher conference focused on nothing else. Now when he reads something I just have him tell me about it. I mean, really, neat handwrithing is not THAT important in the big scheme of things. :) He CAN write neatly if he puts his mind to it, and I know that, so it's no big deal.

If she's rushing to get done with the work maybe she's not all that interested in the work she's doing. Maybe you should switch gears for a bit. Let her choose something to write about or study. When a child is truly interested in something learning goes much smoother.

Posts: 574
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:00 am
Location: Western Mass

Postby momo3boys » Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:44 pm

I just make sure that the expectations are realistic. When they are practicing th handwriting I expect them to try hard, other times, I just ant to be able to tell they have written and not scribbled. As long as I know they CAN do it, it isn't so much that they do it all the time. For us handwriting is a subject and we don't carry it into ALL that we do.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 1:53 pm
Location: nc

Postby quickshot » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:40 pm

My daughter is 9 also and we've been down this road many times. When she was in public school she was hounded about her penmanship. I tried to MAKE her write neatly, I made her write things over and I really started to feel bad that I was treating her like the school system. I hated myself for treating her this way. I was like hey, I don't even write in cursive anymore and I really don't know that I would know how to correctly write some of the letters. I finally realized that my daughter may just have bad handwriting. I laugh at it now and say that she's got to become a Doctor with handwriting like that!!!!!!! :wink:

Posts: 125
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:39 am
Location: Verona VA

Postby Decrease » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:03 am

Bardoville made a great point.

I was a person who has and still works on neat handwriting. My P.S. teachers did not know how to handle it. Part of my problem was the following:

1. I did develop my fine motor skills later than most kids. While I was an advanced reader, wrestler, and speller, I could not advance in writing.

2. The teachers I had exemplified the problem by telling me I should improve and not helping me improve and giving constructive help to improving.

Here are some suggestions I used (mostly by my trial and error) and other suggestions that I think could help.

1. Bardoville has a great point... have them do it over again. The only problem I have is that they may have other issues. Do not use this to avoid helping but it is a great idea.

2. Place a number of papers underneath the paper your child is writing on. I remember when I worked on improving my handwriting that if I wrote on one piece of paper on top of a hard surface it was harder to control my pencil/pen. When I added more papers, I had more control.

3. We also do something called "The attack of the ________". So, if my child writes a nine that is not quite right, we will review how a nine is supposed to look and in proper spacing, we will make her write after another mess up the nines over 20 times, with proper spacing. All we say to the child is "Your nines are not improving, now you must do the "attack of the nines". It gets to the point where we have made it so fun that our child will come to us and say, "I messed this up... I have to do the attack of the nines". Sometimes she turns in work with the attack of the nines (or whatever) already attached. This has improved her handwriting.

4. Get a good writing pencil or pen from an education retailer. If a child has fine motor skill problems, a specialized pencil can help.

5. Some of the letters in cursive we use are complicated. Sometimes a slight variation of that letter can make a difference. I am not saying that you make up your letters, but there are different ways of writing that letter. The way, for instance, I was taught to write my capital "T"s and "F"'s in school were more difficult for me. As a result, a slight change in how I wrote those letters made a huge difference. The capital letter "D" was something I also changed when I became an adult when I realized that this letter was still more difficult for me to write and I did not like how my "D"s look.

6. Interest the child in calligraphy. Yes, this sounds strange to a sloppy writer but if the child has any interest, they will combine an artistic interest with helping them write better. Start creating an interest in this an artistic form that encourages art.

7. Of a personal interest, I would also discourage busy work (work that keeps a child busy with no real goal) that can frustrate a child. For me, that was word searches and crossword puzzles. I knew they were just "busy work" and would rush through them in a sloppy manner. Focus your homeschooling on doing things meaningful that you can take your time to develop, like handwriting (I could write a book on how I tried to avoid such busy work).

This is from a person who struggled with handwriting as a child.

User avatar
Posts: 2122
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:14 pm
Location: Missouri, US

Postby Theodore » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:35 am

Aside from being able to sign your name in cursive, I honestly don't see the point to learning cursive at all. There are a number of different cursive styles, none of which are as easy to read as printing, and the speed advantage that cursive gives is no longer needed in today's world of computers. I haven't written anything in cursive in years and years.

Cursive, like calligraphy, is more of an art form than a necessity, imho.

Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:02 am

Postby Mathmom » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:30 am

Hi TeacherMom,
I was wondering if your daughter, and if anyone else who said they had trouble with handwriting, is a left-handed person?
I am a lefty, and I did not do well enough in 5th grade in handwriting. Everything else I did fine. Imagine getting all A's (why they grade in 5th grade is beyond me) and then get a "C" in handwriting. I hated being told that it wasn't good enough.

I think I would take her favorite subject and do some writing for that subject. Even if it is math. Here's a place to find things to write about for math:
Look for the writing contests. You might get some ideas, even if you don't enter a contest. The point is to get her to write on paper, but not focus on the writing itself.

Also, look at Homeschool's Cool A to Z website, the page for handwriting has links for everything you could possibly think of there. ... riting.htm

I have been using the Getty-DuBay Italics handwriting books. They give instructions in the front of the books and in the teachers manual for how to sit correctly, and how to hold the pen/pencil.
Chalk and dry-erase boards can be fun for kids to write on, too. That would give her some fun practice.

She might like those books called
And, I agree with what the others were saying about it not being that important. Just remember that you want to build her confidence, not make her self-conscious. Don't worry, though. I can see that you have a loving relationship with your child. Hope some of this helps :D Draw Write Now. You draw simple pictures and write a text.

Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:26 am

Neat handwriting

Postby tricia » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:48 am

Just a suggestion, teacher mom,

I agree with those of you who say that pushing your child too hard to produce super neat handwriting will be counterproductive. At the same time,allowing sloppy work sends the message that it's ok to produce something less than what she's capable of.

My angle would be to ask the question: Why write in the first place?

If she is not the type who is willing to sit down for long periods of time doing handwriting drills, then it may be a good idea to try the following:
- let the writing task be meaningful. Write short thank you notes, little reminders, the titles of stories, putting captions on photos, labels, speech bubbles in comics...anything that is communicative.
- let the writing task be manageable. Is the prospect of writing a whole page too intimidating for your learner? Then it's better to do a little writing each day. Break the big task into smaller steps.
-increase your standards for neatness gradually. What can she manage now? Focus on one aspect of neatness ( make sure the letters touch base?) at a time.

I hope these suggestions are helpful :)
Author of "Exploring with kids" website

User avatar
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:06 am
Location: Texas, USA

Postby gellegbs » Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:02 pm

We don't write much anymore due to computers and such but at the same time you want your child's handwriting to be legible. You might actually be surprised how much writing you do in college, not many think of the numerous classes that require note taking. For that you have to be both fast and proficient.

Return to “Reading, Writing, Language Arts”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest