Handwriting is important because kids are required to use it daily in school from kindergarten on. Children who struggle with the mechanics of handwriting may have trouble taking notes or tests or completing their schoolwork. This can affect both their self-esteem and their attitude toward school.
By age 4, students should be starting to develop a tripod grasp which is using the thumb and index finger to hold the pencil/crayon and resting it on the middle finger. It is ok if the student rests the crayon/pencil on the 4th finger. If the student is still using a full hand grasp or very awkward grasp, this may indicate some difficulty with strength and coordination.
4-5 students should be able to make vertical and horizontal lines, circle, square, triangle and draw a simple person with head, torso, legs, arms, hands, and feet.
For the older students (1st grade and up), general neatness, staying on the lines, size consistency and spacing are all aspects to look at in determining if your child is struggling.
If your child's handwriting continues to be messy and hard to read even after formal instruction at school, try these tips:
Help your child take it slow. Many kids struggle with writing because they try to do it quickly. Encourage your child to take time to form the letters carefully.
Explain that mistakes happen. Teach your child how to use an eraser.
Reinforce proper letter formation. Find out from your child's teacher how he or she should be forming letters, and then encourage your child to practice writing using those patterns. Using lined paper can be helpful.
Make sure the pencil is properly positioned. Ideally your child will use what is called a tripod grasp. This means the pencil should rest near the base of the thumb, held in place with the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Plastic pencil grips sold at office supply stores may help if your child has trouble holding a pencil properly.
Expose your child to lots of words. You can do this by reading regularly together, pointing out words that surround you (such as street signs or product labels), and by hanging up examples of your child's writing around the house.
Tips provided by 'Kids Health.org'