When I looked into problems with handwriting I found all kinds of information. I could never correctly put my finger on a particular article that helped explain our problems but through a combination of articles and programs I was able to find ways to help him.
I mention a combined effort because it was not just strategies and muscle strengthening exercises that helped, but actual programs that really were not meant to teach the mechanics of handwriting, but in their own way, played a huge part in helping my boys to become better and more consistent in writing.
Some programs I am referring to are: All About Spelling, a multi-sensory based spelling program that is used with letter tiles, a wipe board and paper/pencil activities. The daily lessons provided him with more confidence with trying out different spellings for words and for helping with letter reversals. Now, when he reverses a letter, he self corrects and mentions, "no this is the way it is supposed to be". Can't ask for more than that.
Another that helped tremendously is IEW: Institute for Excellence in Writing. A program that teaches writing through modeling. We began with me having to scribe for him in order to accomplish his work to him doing the KWO himself ( three words per sentence) and then to the sentences and then finally the full write up. He has gained confidence in his writing and writing ability not just in thinking of what to put on the paper but everything that goes into writing and bringing ALL the skills together; thinking of the words to writing, adjusting the paper to writing, holding the pencil correctly, writing the letters and sounding out the words while trying to remember what he wanted to add to his paper.
Here are some exercises we would work on in the very beginning: ( some of these may seem quite little but when trying to strengthen those little muscles it can really be very helpful and important to fine motor skills)
A few personal recommendations for handwriting practice:
a lined wipeboard to practice new letters on
clay or playdough for letters (especially helpful for new printers)
mechanical pencils to help a bit with pressure
golf pencils to help with placement
sand and tray for new letter practice or shaving cream
use multi-sensory approach by saying and writing what the letter is.. I have seen more children who write cursive very nicely but cannot read their writing or other cursive writing... now what good is that? :)
a small chalk board and sponge that you can wet write the letter and it disappears, no worries if something looked wrong it is gone! :) especially for our young learners. :) when my youngest would see it disappear he would quickly write it again and again..lol what great practice!
and lastly a patient heart and a quiet voice (it really helps them to focus on your words :) )
Looking back I am glad I took the time to do these things and not PUSH the handwriting too much. I did encourage the printing as we moved further along but always offered help when I saw his story was getting long and he needed a rest. I knew in time he would have built up his muscles and the stamina to go for longer periods of time and I was right. He now does all his own writing and has very little troubles with the mechanics of writing. What helped also is how we kept plugging away~ even though it was very hard some days we would just spend our short time and with patience, time and encouragement we started to see the progress. ~