Choosing The Right Handwriting Tools For Beginners

Handwriting is an essential skill for children to develop, especially in the early elementary grades. As studies have shown, handwriting leads to improved literacy outcomes and is linked to reading and spelling achievement. Learning correct letter formation and developing fine motor skills early on sets the stage for future academic success ( Having the proper tools and materials can make a big difference for beginning handwriters. Selecting the right pencils, pens, paper, and other supplies tailored to a child’s needs allows them to practice handwriting correctly and comfortably. This helps reinforce good habits from the start. Equipping children with quality, appropriate tools encourages motivation and confidence as they work on this foundational skill.


When choosing a pencil for handwriting, one of the most important factors to consider is the hardness scale. Pencils are graded on a scale from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest), with HB sitting in the middle as a happy medium.

Harder pencils like 2H or H make lighter marks and are good for technical drafting and detailed writing. The lead is firm and resists smudging. However, harder leads require more pressure to make a mark and can feel scratchy on paper (The Best Lead Grade For Every Application).

Softer pencils like 2B and B make darker marks with less pressure. They provide smoother, richer lines and are great for shading and sketching. However, the soft, thick core can feel mushy and break more easily (The Complete Guide to Graphite Pencil Lead Grade).

HB sits right in the middle with moderate hardness and darkness. HB lead is firm enough to control but soft enough to glide across the page easily. This makes it a good all-purpose choice for general writing and practice (Types of Pencils and Pencil Lead: Finding the Best Pencil for Writing).


When choosing a pen for handwriting practice, three main types to consider are ballpoint, gel, and fountain pens. Each has pros and cons to weigh.

Ballpoint pens use oil-based ink and a rolling ball tip. They can write smoothly on many surfaces, are inexpensive, and don’t bleed much. However, they may require more pressure and cause hand strain. The ink flows inconsistently at times. Ballpoints aren’t ideal for calligraphy or art due to limited line variation.

Gel pens contain gel ink that typically glides more smoothly than ballpoint ink. The ink dries quickly, resists smearing, and provides vivid color. Gel pens do not require as much pressure. However, they can feel scratchy on rough paper. The tips wear down over time. Gel ink may smear if your hand drags over fresh writing.

Fountain pens have a metal nib that channels liquid ink drawn from a reservoir via capillary action. They offer versatile line width, smooth writing, and a classic elegance. But fountain pens may have a learning curve, need frequent refilling, and risk messy leaks. The ink takes longer to dry. They also tend to cost more than ballpoint or gel pens (JetPens).

For beginning handwriting practice, ballpoint or gel may be the most accessible options. Fountain pens appeal more to seasoned writers seeking artistic expression.


When choosing paper for handwriting practice, you’ll need to decide between lined or blank paper. Lined paper provides guidance for keeping letters consistently sized and spaced, which can be helpful for beginners. Sources recommend using paper that has lines that are well-spaced for writing (wider than college ruled paper) such as Handwriting Practice Paper.

Blank paper allows more creative freedom and is great for practicing flourishes. However, it can be challenging for beginners to keep letter sizes and spacing consistent without lines. Many recommend starting on lined paper and moving to blank once you’ve developed some skill.

In terms of paper weight and texture, sources recommend paper that provides some friction and doesn’t allow ink to bleed too much. Papers like Rhodia pads are popular as they provide a smooth writing surface without excessive bleeding and feathering. Papers that are too thin or too slick can make it hard to control your strokes.


When choosing a notebook, two major decisions are whether you want a spiral or bound notebook, and what page layout you prefer. Spiral notebooks allow pages to lay flat when open, while bound notebooks feel more like traditional books. For page layout, lined, grid, blank, and dot grid are common options.

Writer’s Digest recommends spiral notebooks for beginner handwriting practice because pages lay flatter for easier writing. They suggest starting with wide ruled or college ruled paper with margins. Wide ruled has more space between lines, while college ruled fits more lines per page (The 11 Best Notebooks and Notepads for 2024).

Many writers prefer dot grid notebooks. The light dots guide handwriting while still providing flexibility. Bullet Journal recommends dot grid for creative layouts and journaling (Best Notebooks for Writing – Writerly Sage). However, lines may be easier for absolute beginners.

Holders help beginners learn proper grip and control.


Using a holder or grip can help beginners learn proper pencil and pen grip. Pencil grips and holders come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit small or large hands. Many feature ridges or shapes to guide finger placement in the tripod grip style. According to research, the tripod grip leads to the best control and legibility. Some popular options include:

  • Pencil gripper for kids/toddlers handwriting aid tools for beginners, help preschoolers learn proper grip and control (
  • Adaptive pencil grips and holders from Special Needs Company help position fingers correctly (

As beginners develop fine motor skills, they can transition to holding pencils and pens without grips. But initially, holders teach proper positioning to enable legible handwriting.

Rulers and Guides

Using guides and rulers can help improve handwriting by providing boundaries and structure for letter size and shape. Rulers with slanted edges give beginners practice in maintaining a consistent slant, which is around 55 degrees for many cursive and calligraphy styles.

Some popular ruler options include:

  • Slanted calligraphy rulers – These have angles built in to guide slant
  • Adjustable slant boards – Allow you to set a custom slant angle
  • Ruling guides – Stencils to draw lines on blank paper
  • Lined paper – Has built-in lines to write on

Using slanted rulers and guides trains muscle memory for maintaining the proper handwriting slant. They are ideal for beginners still working on consistency. As skills improve, transitioning to plain paper allows more freedom.


Additional Tools

In addition to the basic supplies like pencils, pens and paper, there are some unique tools that can help make handwriting practice more engaging and productive for beginners. Two interesting options are blotting paper and finger cots.

Blotting paper is a type of thin, absorbent paper that was traditionally used to blot ink. However, it can also provide tactile stimulation for beginning handwriters. According to Amazon, having kids trace letters and shapes on blotting paper can help strengthen their fine motor skills. The texture helps them grip and control the writing tool.

Finger cots are small latex covers that slip over the finger. They can provide resistance when tracing letters, which builds finger strength. The texture also raises awareness of how the finger is moving. Some occupational therapists recommend finger cots to promote proper pencil grip and letter formation. They are an affordable and portable option to include in a handwriting practice toolkit.

Creating a Practice Space

Setting up a designated handwriting practice space is an important part of helping beginners develop good handwriting habits. Having a consistent workspace helps reinforce the routines and repetition needed to improve handwriting skills.

Experts recommend setting up a practice space in a quiet area without too many distractions. Make sure there is a flat, sturdy surface to write on. Use a pencil tray or box to keep writing tools organized and within reach.

It can help to decorate the space with handwriting-themed posters or student work to keep the child motivated and engaged. Place a chair that allows the child to sit with proper posture and a surface at an appropriate height.

Having good lighting is also important. Position a lamp or other light source so the workspace is well-lit without glare on the writing surface. Some children benefit from using slanted desks or wearing a slanted writing board to achieve the optimal writing angle.

Incorporate opportunities for targeted skill practice into the space. For example, attach spelling word lists, letter charts or lined paper templates to the walls for easy reference. Use an easel or whiteboard for practicing proper letter formation and spacing.

Create storage for the child to access all needed supplies like pencils, paper, erasers, sharpener and grips. Keep extras on hand so materials can be replaced as needed.

Print out checklists of reminders or visual aids to display during practice sessions. For example, cues for posture, pencil grip, letter size, spacing, and more. Having a timer nearby can help keep the child focused for specific intervals.

Setting the stage for success with a well-equipped, organized practice area fosters the repetition and focus needed to improve handwriting skills. Fix Spacing in Handwriting (Free Handout)


Choosing the right handwriting tools as a beginner can make a world of difference in your progress and enjoyment. The key tools beginners should consider include a good starter pencil set, fountain or gel pen, lined paper or notebook, a holder or grip aid if needed, a ruler or writing guide, and a designated practice space. While extra tools like chalkboards or tracing sheets can be helpful, start with high-quality basics like a pencil and paper best suited to your needs.

Remember that handwriting takes practice and patience. Don’t get discouraged if your handwriting isn’t perfect right away. With the right tools and consistent practice, your skills will steadily improve. Most importantly, enjoy the process and be proud of the progress you make, small as it may seem. Handwriting is a journey without end, so focus on your growth and take inspiration in the small daily improvements.

Similar Posts