Expectations   Poor Handwriting    
Proper   Posture   Pencil Grip   
Activities   Objectives   
   How to print letters & numbers with direction arrows
Cursive  How to write cursive letters with direction arrows

Handwriting Expectations

  • students will be evaluated on printing in Term 1, cursive writing in Term 2 and keyboarding in Term 3
  • in Term 1 students may print their work
  • after October 31, students are expected to use cursive writing for almost all of their work
  • printing is expected for Math Notebooks, spelling lists, diagrams, charts and maps
  • students use pencil for most work
  • students need to have pencils that are longer than 10 cm to write properly, a good quality Pearl eraser and a self-contained pencil sharpener
  • pens are allowed for marking and for writing out good copies of works to be published
  • scribbling out errors is not acceptable, a single line through is OK
  • no white-out is allowed
  • in math and on maps, only pencils may be used
  • correct letter formation & speed is expected
  • the Spelling Duo-Tang and the Home Journal are the sources for penmanship evaluation
  • doodling is never allowed on any school work -whether provided by the school or the student - it shows lack of respect
  • proper posture is required to do the job properly

Poor Handwriting


Common Things that Contribute to Poor Handwriting


  • sprawling on desk

  •  holding head up with one hand

  • knees not under desk & aligned with paper

Pencil Grip

  • awkward

  • incorrect fingers used to hold pencil

Writing on the lines

  • writing in the space in top margin

  • writing along the bottom edge of the paper under last line

  • not writing on the lines

Starting at the margins

  •  not starting at the left margin

  • indent too large (should only be the width of a finger)


  •  too much space between words like in primary (should only be the width of the letter m)


  • slow lack focus, no continuous writing

  • slow needs to think of letter formation while writing 

  • lack of speed means that student cannot keep up with transcribing notes from the board - constantly behind

  • too fast - writing becomes illegible - even student cannot read own writing


  • smudged, blotchy

  • irregular letter size

Writing tools

  • pencil not sharpened well enough

  • pencil lead is too hard - writing is very light & hard to read

  • pencil lead is too soft - smudges

  • writing tools not at hand, lost, misplaced, time wasted 

  • writing tools not at hand, lost, misplaced, time wasted 

Proper Posture

Proper Pencil Grip

Activities in Classroom

To increase speed & fluency:

  • MMP (Mad Minute Printing)  or MMC (Mad Minute Cursive) for 1 to 3 minutes - to race the clock & improve on personal best time
    • record letters per minute (lpm)
    • Printing Goals: gr. 3 - 40 lpm, gr. 4 50 lpm, gr. 5 60 lpm, gr. 6 67 lpm
    • Use a variety of things to write such as:
      • "the quick red fox jumps over the lazy dog" - every letter once
      • "pack my box with five dozen lacquer jugs" - every letter once
      • abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabc.... - the alphabet
  • FMTW (Five Minute Timed Writing) - mostly reflective writing on experiences or articles for the class yearbook - in both printing & cursive
    • record words per minute (wpm)
  • In note-taking & in Agenda - use abbreviations & symbols to develop own shorthand for speed

Handwriting Objectives

  • Legibility - Handwriting needs to be legible to the writer and intended reader.
  • Fluency - Handwriting needs to flow so the writer can record thoughts without struggle.


In grade 4, students are expected to print legibly and without hesitation. Some of the important things are:
  • correct letter formation
  • consistent size
  • capital and tall letters are about twice as large as short letters
  • writing is on the line
  • clear lines are made with sharp pencils, neat erasures
  • adequate speed in writing (about 40 to 50 letters per minute - lpm)
  • proper pencil grip
  • proper posture
  • the head is solely supported by the neck while writing

Printed Letters

Follow the direction arrows when writing the letters & numbers.


At the beginning of grade 4,students should know how to form cursive letters and be able to write in cursive while referring to an alphabet chart for some assistance.

By the end of October, students are expected to be able to write in cursive without needing to check an alphabet chart. Some notes will need to be written solely in cursive.

By the end of grade 4, students should be able to read their own cursive writing without hesitation and be able to read well-written cursive writing from others.

For exercises to improve cursive writing, check the following: Handwriting For Kids. Some of the important objectives for cursive writing are:
  • speed
  • correct letter formation
  • reading & writing handwriting of others
  • lettering

Cursive Letters

Follow the direction arrows when writing the letters.


Keyboarding is just another means of writing. In grade 4, lessons in proper keyboarding techniques will be completed. Proper fingering and posture is encouraged since these contribute to speed & fluency in writing. 

There is a difference between keyboarding and word processing. The goal of keyboarding is to make the student so familiar with the keyboard that writing happens without thought being given to the location of the letters on the keyboard. If a student types les that 10 w.p.m. (words per minute), then he/she lacks familiarity with the keyboard. Even students who "hunt & peck" with 2 fingers but who know the keyboard can type at 10 wpm. There is also no need to type faster that 30 wpm, since most  students cannot compose quality writing faster than that. Even adults cannot compose a page of quality writing in less than 10 minutes. The goal at this stage is not to train the student to be a "typist" of work created by others. The goal is to allow the student to use the computer as just another writing tool.

Resources & Interesting Sites

  1. Handwriting from Print to Cursive Writing published by The York Region Board of Education, Curriculum Guideline February 1995
  2. Italic writing http://www.studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/curriculum.html - an interesting concept on how to improve learning cursive writing 
  3. Kate Gladstone's Handwriting Repair http://www.handwritingthatworks.com/

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