3 Must-Do Handwriting Instruction Practices for First Graders After A Year of Virtual Kindergarten

3 Tips to Teach Handwriting to First Graders

Last school year with almost everything being virtual, a lot of things in the classroom had to be put on hold. One of those being handwriting instruction.

Typically, handwriting instruction begins in kindergarten. But now that we’re mostly back in the classroom, I’m so excited that I am seeing handwriting instruction beyond kindergarten.

I am seeing it in my first grade classrooms. I’m seeing it in the second grade classrooms. I’m even seeing it in my middle school classrooms, where teachers are going back and talking about spacing.

In this blogpost, I’m going to be focusing on handwriting instruction for those kiddos who are heading into first grade who may have had their kindergarten year interrupted by virtual schooling.

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3 Handwriting Instruction Practices for First Grade

If you’re a parent who’s a little concerned about your little ones after the crazy school year we’ve had, this post is for you!

Prefer to watch this information as a video? Checkout my YouTube video below all about how to teach handwriting to first graders!

1. Teach Letter Recognition 

Teaching handwriting begins with letter recognition so we want to make sure we have tons of letter recognition activities. 


As a pediatric occupational therapist, there have been so many times when I’ve asked kids to write their alphabet, even to identify their letters and they do not know them. It becomes really hard to write the letters when kids are not a hundred percent sure what those letters even look like. 

So first grade handwriting instruction must include a lot of visual memory and letter recognition activities. 

Yes, even at the first grade level, kids still need letter recognition practice.

2. Teach Letter Formation

Let’s not assume that the kids know how to write the letters. There have been so many times as I sit next to kids, watching them write their letters and I notice that they take so many extra steps to form the letters.  

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What happens is in the future, this causes their writing to be very inefficient and very laborious, especially when they have to write more and more in the upper grades.

Then we fall into all the legibility traps that I see with the older kids. 

Explicitly teaching kids how to form the letters must be included in handwriting instruction in first grade. 

3. Teach Letter Size

Letter size is the third crucial component of handwriting instruction for these early writers.

We need to differentiate between the 3 sizes of letters and be very specific and explicit about where these letters fall on paper. 

We cannot assume that kids are going to see the letters and automatically know, for example, that the “t” and “d” need to touch the top line and the bottom line.

Let’s not forget a lot of times traditional handwriting workbooks skip right over this. 

Kids need explicit instruction on how to form the different sized letters on paper. 

Click here to download my FREE Spacing Cheat Sheet

Handwriting Instruction Resources 

These three handwriting instruction practices in combination really set the foundation for a great first grade year, because first grade is all about writing sentences, and it also sets the foundation for those future legibility issues that I see come up so often.

If you teach handwriting in the classroom at any grade level, make sure your handwriting instruction includes these practices. 

If you’re a parent, you can work on these 3 handwriting practices at home with your kids.

Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes with your handwriting instruction!