The first time your child writes "I love Mom," you'll be so proud -- if you can read the words.
Good penmanship isn't just a bragging right: Kids who can form letters better actually have an easier time expressing their thoughts on paper. "You don't want the act of handwriting to interfere with creativity," says Jan Olsen, creator of the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. To help your child write more easily -- and legibly:
Make it fun
Drilling's a drag. Your child will be more interested in practicing his penmanship if you have him write his name or record his own stories, use bath crayons in the tub, or try different pens.
Get a grip
To be sure your child's holding his pencil properly, check that his thumb and forefinger don't overlap and that they're forming a loose "o,"with the pencil resting on the third or fourth finger. His wrist should be neutral, not crooked at an angle (especially common among lefties). Short or golf pencils are easiest for kids to hold -- they balance better and aren't as awkward as long or thick "primary" pencils.
Take it from the top
Encourage your child to make his letters with downward strokes -- it's less sloppy than working his way from the bottom up. Vertical and horizontal lines are easier to write than diagonals or curves, so capitals like E, F, and T will be simpler at first than A or M.
Don't work the angles
When he starts learning cursive, don't focus on slant. Some kids will naturally angle their writing, but forcing it leads to messy results. Rather than teaching letters, work on the most common words: "the," "to," "and," "he," "you," "it," "if," "in," "was," and "said."