Diagnosing Cursive Writing Problems | The OT Toolbox

Diagnosing Cursive Writing Problems

Cursive handwriting can be a challenge to learn. When kids do learn the letters, many times cursive writing takes on a personal style of letter formation. To assess cursive handwriting in the child who is already writing, it takes assessment of the individual parts of cursive writing such as letter formation, speed, rhythm, and legibility. 

To diagnose cursive handwriting struggles, it's important to look at the overall piece of written work. The cursive writing assessment checklist below will help to assess cursive handwriting and work on cursive writing progression.

Is the writing sample legible? Can the individual read it after a period of hours or days? Are  specific letters identifiable? Are letters formed properly, and are they connected correctly? Do the letters flow and can join together accurately? Are the strokes leaning in a consistent direction? Are there added pencil strokes or portions of letters missing? Is there consistent use of line and size awareness? 

These are all things to look at when assessing cursive handwriting.

An assessment of cursive writing is important for the student who knows how to form individual letters but may not be efficient or functional in their written work. 

Looking at all of the parts that make up cursive handwriting can be beneficial to pinpoint areas that need more work in order to promote functional cursive handwriting. 

This post is part of our series on how to teach cursive writing

Use this free cursive handwriting assessment checklist to help with diagnosing cursive writing problems and work  on cursive writing progression to functional cursive.




How to Diagnose Cursive Writing Problems



Look at the items below to diagnose cursive handwriting issues and figure out how to work on these areas to improve overall legibility.


Cursive Handwriting Checklist



Are letters constructed properly? 
Do letters have all parts needed for accurate formation? 
Are letters missing parts needed for accurate formation?
Do tow rope letters have a correct connector line? (Tow rope letters include b, o, v, w
Are the words easy to read? 
Do the letters flow together with connectors accurately and consistently throughout the writing sample? 
Do baseline connectors occur at the baseline? 
Are letters slanting in a consistent direction?
Is the cursive writing sample overall too large where words are extending up to the top line and stretched out with the wide base of letter? 
Or are letters formed so small so that they can't be read? 
Is the spacing between words and letters satisfactory?
Are the letters connected in a way that pencil strokes are smooth? 
Is the student using consistent pressure pressure throughout the writing sample? 
Are letters closed properly wear? 
Are letters formed with the proper finishing marks such as the dot on an i and a cross on a t
Are loops formed properly so they look like cursive letter is an l and e or are they stick so that they can look like a cursive t or i
Is the writing sample written on the lines and within a given space?
Are the tails of tail letters (f, g, j, q, y, z) dropping below the baseline?
Are upper case cursive letters larger in size than lowercase letters?
Do tall letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) touch the top line consistently?
Are the tall letters larger than the small letters?
Do letters with re-trace trace back over lines correctly and consistently?
Is writing speed consistent and accurate?
is the writing correct but layout and spacing poor?

Another area to consider when assessing cursive writing is to look at desk and paper positioning.

Grab this handwriting checklist in printable form by clicking here. You will be emailed a printable checklist that can be used to assess cursive handwriting. 

Included in the form are areas for notes on handwriting, along with the above questions divided into sections: 
Cursive Letter Formation
Cursive Letter Connections
Cursive Letter Size
Overall Cursive Letter Legibility

This Cursive Handwriting Assessment Checklist is a great way to assess and monitor cursive handwriting progression.



Use this Cursive Handwriting Assessment Checklist to diagnose and identify specific problems in cursive handwriting samples. 

Once specific issues are determined, it can be easy to work on those specific skills. 

CLICK HERE to download the Cursive Handwriting Assessment Checklist

Use this free cursive handwriting assessment checklist to help with diagnosing cursive writing problems and work  on cursive writing progression to functional cursive.

Each child will be different in the way that their writing appears on paper. Even children who are instructed in a group will end up with writing that looks completely different, especially once a personal style is incorporated into cursive writing. 


Use this free cursive handwriting assessment checklist to help with diagnosing cursive writing problems and work  on cursive writing progression to functional cursive.






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