Poorly legible or illegible writing? What are the possible causes?

Have you ever had trouble reading a handwritten document, a student’s copy, a prescription, a shopping list? You are a teacher, a parent, an educator and you want to help a person whose handwriting is not very legible or even illegible. To do this, you must first understand the causes. Here are some guidelines.

We will not talk here about dys or other handicaps that have a role in the appearance of handwriting, that will be the subject of a future article.

Bad learning

The first cause we can think of is poor teaching. Many teachers are unfortunately not properly trained in teaching to write. There are, however, avenues of work and recommendations.

Thus, if a handwritten text is not very legible or illegible it is because the person has difficulty forming the letters correctly and linking them or does not know how to do so. On the other hand, it is possible to write very well by taking one’s time, but as soon as one has to speed up, the letters become distorted, the writing becomes disorganized and loses legibility.

ecriture illisible mauvais apprentissage

It is about learning the right gestures and the efficient linking of letter sequences: when to lift the pencil or not, when to put dots and accents on the letters, where to start a round letter. The graphopedagogues have a progressive pedagogical method to teach cursive writing.

An unsuitable posture

posture avachie
table trop haute

Poor posture can also result in writing that is difficult to read. Indeed, depending on the height of the table on which you write, your shoulder and arm will have more or less mobility. It is the fingers that work when you write and the shoulder allows the arm to move on the paper, the elbow and the wrist do not play any role at the risk of making a “rainbow” while writing.

You will find that your writing varies depending on where you are writing: sitting on a couch, lying on a bed, slouching on a table, standing, etc. The appearance of the writing can thus vary greatly. Some postures do not allow your shoulder to move or your fingers to move normally. They can also cause a torsion of the wrist making it more difficult to move the fingers and causing pain. Writing then becomes a chore. 

At the cabinet during the re-education sessions, we teach you how to adopt the right posture, so that your writing is as efficient and comfortable as possible.

Ineffective pencil holding

Children are having more and more difficulty holding their pencils correctly. I won’t go into the causes here, but it can have a big impact on the appearance of writing in general. A bad pencil grip prevents the fingers from working, from having an amplitude and it is often the wrist or the arm that takes over. The writing then lacks fluidity.

During re-education sessions, we analyze the causes of poor pencil holding. Then, with playful exercises, we correct it to give back to the fingers all their strength and their mobility, which are essential for fluid and successful writing.
mauvaise tenue crayon

Speed at the expense of form

Another cause may be the attempt to gain speed. To gain speed, the gesture and the form of the letters must be automated. Otherwise, the movement takes over the form, the writing becomes unstructured and illegible. It is then necessary to find the right balance between form and movement.

In the office, we work on the sequence of letters, the rhythm of the gesture and the copying strategies. These exercises reinforce the automation of the writing, which is necessary to gain speed.

When the hand does not follow the thought

This is often the case with high potential people. They think very fast, so that the hand cannot follow. They are in constant search of speed, movement is predominant to the detriment of form. In addition, learning to write is not an instantaneous process and requires practice and repetition. Our HP students are often not used to this and learning form can seem boring to them.

ecriture illisible ecrit trop vite

As you will have understood, illegible or poorly readable handwriting is not simply a matter of poor letter formation. The graphopedagogues who are members of the 5E Association are trained to analyze the causes of illegible handwriting and to offer personalized remediation sessions.

Christine Groot – www.ecrituresansfrontieres.fr

Handwriting rehabilitation – Houston, United States.