Oh, the joys of teaching handwriting... I have tried every program out there. When I taught kindergarten, I used Abeka's approach which is the upstairs, downstairs, basement method. I'll talk more about that later. Then, when I worked in the public school system, I used the clock method from Johnny Can Spell. As a special education teacher, I used Handwriting without Tears. Last, I found a set of books called, Draw Write Now, which I love because it's a finer motor/art program tied to thematic unit. With Draw Write Now, you can teach the actual letter formation however you feel comfortable. So, which one do I recommend? You need to see which one works for the majority of your students. You will always have a handful who will struggle because their fine motor skills are undeveloped.
Here are some helpful hints in teaching number and letter formation.To help students with number writing, have them begin at the top of the numbers. Always try to teach everything from top to bottom and left to right, just like how we read sentences and paragraphs. This will train their eye and hands.
Using these rhymes and consistenly teaching the correct motion will form good habits and reduce the number of reversals.
A line is one or walk straight down and then you're done. 1
Around and back on the railroad track is two. 2
Around a tree and around a tree is three. 3
Down and over and down some more is four. 4
Down and around with a flag on top is five. 5
Tie up a bundle of sticks is six. 6
Across the sky and down from heaven is seven. 7
Make an S then climb back up to make an eight. 8
A loop and a line is nine. 9
Start all over again is ten. 10
Students need to differentiate captial and lowercase letters. One way to help them remember where the letters go on the line is to teach the analogy of a house. I bring in a giant dollhouse with 3 floors and teach upstairs, downstairs, basement. Depending on which part of the country you live in, you may have to explain what a basement is like in Texas for example.
Capital letters live both "upstairs and downstairs". Most lowercase letters live downstairs such as a,c,e,i,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x, and z. A few letters live upstairs and downstairs such as b,d,f,h,k,l, and t. Last, very few letters are allowed to go downstairs and into the basement; g, j, p, q and y.
B & d reversals are very common. Learning to begin the letters correctly and consistently in the correct place with help reduce the problem. Students need to learn the feel of making the motion of the letters and with time and practice it will become easier, faster, and more automatic. A way to help students know which way to write a b is to say: "1st the bat, then the ball". You can also teach them sign language and the letter d, looks like the letter d.
Using sandpaper letters will help them feel the letters. But, put a sticky dot where you want them to start tracing so they won't start at the bottom. :)
Tune of... London Bridges Falling Down
Start your letters at the top, at the top, at the top.
Start your letters at the top when you're writing.
Capitals live up and down, up and down, up and down.
Capitals live up and down in the townhouse.
Lowercase prefers downstairs, downstairs, downstairs.
Lowercase prefers downstairs most of the time.
In the basement, tails will go , tails will go, tails will go.
In the basement, tails will go because they're long.
* While I'm singing this song, I hold up charts that show which letters live where for a frame of reference.
Resources to Teach Handwriting: