Handwriting Letter & Word Spacing Issues

letter spacing

Some children find it difficult to space their letters in words correctly and to show spacing between words. Our step by step flow diagram chart will guide you through. Start from the top and working through each stage, clicking on the boxes to take you to the relevant sections of our website. Identify possible reasons for your child’s letter and spacing issues and provides suggestions on how to help them: http://bit.ly/2HtASwa

General Tips on Improving Handwriting Letter & Word Spacing:

  • Using a piece of your child’s writing talk through it together, as this may help you to better understand what it is your child sees. Asking the following kind of questions and discussing the answers will help:
    • Can you read this to me?
    • Which letters do you think make the word/s?
    • Where does one-word end and another one start?
    • Can you show me the line you think the word should sit on?
    • Where would you start your next line of writing?
    • Which letters do you think are sitting on the line correctly?
    • What gap size between letters in a word looks best?
    • What gap size between words in a line of writing looks best?
  • It may help to have some other examples of writing (even some you have done yourself) so that different gap and spacing sizes can be compared. Ask your child to pick the piece of writing they think looks best and seems easier to read.
  • What they see and understand may be very different to what you are seeing and thought they understood.
  • An explanation of how letters sit, close together in a word, may need to be discussed with your child as they may not have understood this. It is often presumed they naturally pick up and understand this writing rule.
  • Once the understanding of letter spacing in words has been taught, the larger spacing between individual words is next. Often children are told to leave a finger space between each word, this is fine when a child is small and has little fingers but is not always the case. An alternative is to provide your child with an appropriate sized flat tool which they can place on the paper at the end of a word as a guide to how much space is to be left before writing the next word. Over time they will not need the tool as they have developed the spatial awareness skill for the distance needed to be left between words.
  • The ideal space size between words is the size of one of their lower case letters.
  • It is also useful to talk about the blank space between lines and on the page in general. Explain that these spaces and gaps help with presentation of the work so that it can be seen and read more easily.
  • The correct paper tilt can help a child who is finding it hard to start each line of writing at the margin.
  • Seeing the writing line properly over a whole page can be difficult for some children. Use paper with a different colour line such as red, green, blue or yellow or even black/blue lines on coloured paper.
  • Paper with raised lines may help others as they feel the slight raise in the paper as they write, guiding them as to the position of the line.
  • Coloured line grids and picture clues can help children learn to position letters correctly on the line and in relation to each other.


Helping to Overcome Handwriting Difficulties

Boy writing with head on table

It can be very difficult to understand why a child is struggling with their handwriting.

Where do you start?

We have designed four flow charts to help you. These flow charts take you logically through the key strengths and skill sets required for handwriting. This allows you to discount those areas in which the child is working well, so that you can work more specifically on the key areas in which the child really needs extra support.

By clicking on the flow chart boxes, you are taken to website pages that support that particular area so you can decide whether it is a skill set that needs to be worked on more or not.

The Handwriting Difficulties Page explains the four difficulty areas that our flow charts cover so that you can follow a chart that best suits your requirements: bit.ly/1CyFA7k

Making it Easier to Copy from the Board

Tips for copying from a board text

Copying accurately and quickly from a board at the front of a classroom can be a challenge at the best of times. For young children and those with specific learning difficulties it can be near on impossible. It is amazing how many children lose some, if not all, of a break time because they could not complete the copying task quickly enough in the lesson time.

The practise of taking information off the board has its uses and there are times when there is just no other alternative but it can be made more manageable, here are a few ideas which may help.

  • Make sure the child is sitting facing the board.
  • That they can see the board clearly.
  • That light is not reflecting off the board so that the writing disappears.
  • Try using a different colour marker pen for each line of writing (this way a child will be able to quickly locate the line they were copying from).
  • Or try numbering the lines so the child can more effectively find their way around the text.
  • Leave more of a gap between each line of writing so that each line is clearly visible from the back of the room.
  • Ask those children, who struggle copying, to start the first line of writing as you transfer the text to a smaller board which can then be placed at a more appropriate distance and level for them to continue copying from.
  • If you know the information that will need to be transferred to the child’s book then pre-prepare a text that can be given to the child to copy from. It may be in a different order or layout to that on the board; but it is the information and the child’s ability to access it, that is important.
  • Is a full sentence explanation always required or could the information be presented in another way such as a mind map or diagram which would be equally, or even more, useful to the child.

It can be surprising how frustrating and upsetting being asked to copy from the board can be for many children. So anything that can help to alleviate these emotions and difficulties has got to be worth a try!

Changes to our Website


Hope you are all having an enjoyable Easter break.

We have added new National Curriculum pages relating to handwriting to support schools and parents who use the website in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Our new look ‘About Us’ pages provide a more detailed view of who we are and what we offer parents, carers and schools.

All the free letter animations and worksheets are still available to you in their family groups. They are now listed in learning order within the groups, not alphabetical order. This has also been applied to the accompanying worksheets.

We have also redesigned our icon tips, additional information and warm up exercise buttons so that they stand out more on the pages.

We hope you find these changes useful.

Lucy & Chris