How important is penmanship in your homeschool? In today's world of computers, video streaming, text messages, and emails, most of us think of handwriting as an unnecessary course of study. However, according to a recent article at washingtonpost.com, new studies show that "the neurological process that directs thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one. Several academic studies have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better — a lifelong benefit." In fact, children with good handwriting tend to feel more confident, have an organized approach to learning, and enhance their ability to communicate effectively.

In honor of handwriting's continued importance and in conjunction with John Hancock's birthday (the first person to sign America's Declaration of Independence in his bold, large signature), January 23 is recognized as National Handwriting Day. In observance, homeschooling parents everywhere can encourage their children to rekindle individual, creative expression and the unique gratification that comes from handwriting. Whether composing poems, journaling, writing notes of appreciation, encouragement, and sympathy to loved ones, or just signing their name, students can utilize the personal handwritten touch people remember most.

If your child needs additional practice to improve his handwriting skills, Alpha Omega Publications® offers both the colorful Horizons Penmanship curriculum for grades 1-5 and The Weaver Curriculum® Penmanship to Praise for grades K-6. Both encourage the development of manuscript and Zaner-Bloser® font letter formation with engaging, Bible-based lessons that make learning penmanship fun. In addition to this easy-to-teach homeschool curriculum, you also can encourage your child's creative handwriting practice with these fun-filled activities and ideas:

Younger Children
  • Reinforce hand coordination and muscle strength with finger paints.
  • Use French fries to form letters or make cookie letters by rolling out dough and forming the pieces together.
  • Practice writing letters with chalk on the sidewalk or trace letters in the snow or sand.
  • Spray shaving cream on the bathroom ceramic tiles and have your child write letters in the foam while bathing.
  • Form letters out of play dough, clay, or pipe cleaners.
  • Have your child write the family grocery or shopping lists.
  • Using your finger, trace a letter on your child's back and have him guess by writing the letter on a piece of paper.
Older Children
  • Give your child personalized stationery that reflects his particular interests. Personal notes to friends and grandparents are more likely to happen if he has something "cool" to write on like stationery with snowboarders, retro-looking graphic designs, or music themes.
  • Slip notes into your child's schoolwork or under his pillow to encourage him to write back.
  • Make a scrapbook of favorite family photos and have your child write funny captions.
  • Provide your child with his own journal for recording thoughts and feelings.
  • Have your child write family fun days and activities on your homeschooling calendar.
  • Schedule a family-letter writing day to keep in touch with loved ones.
  • Keep a variety of fun note cards and stamps in your homeschool supply closet for moments when your children have to wait for your assistance in homeschooling.
  • Make invisible ink out of lemon juice and have your child write secret "spy" messages on white paper that can be read only in bright sunlight or by holding the paper close to a light bulb.
So, why are you waiting? Unplug your family's computer, step away from the keyboard, and start putting pen to paper, as you celebrate National Handwriting Day. With a little creativity, you can develop your child's handwriting skills not only to help him write fluently and legibly, but also to teach him how to have fun in the process!