With a school age child, everything education is important to me. I loved school and found it fairly easy, so I want N to love it too. He’s a fan of any subject that’s black or white, logical and straightforward. So maths, science and grammar, rather than the more creative subjects like English – story writing. On the literacy side, the one lesson he really enjoys at school is handwriting practice.
Learning handwriting has certainly changed since I was at school. We didn’t learn joined up writing until juniors whereas nowadays some schools learn cursive writing from reception. N’s school start in year 1 – just learning the shapes and practising different letters in turn. He’s now in year 2 and it’s the same. They have a handwriting lesson in the week where they continue to practice their handwriting. N is lapping it up, and he’ll even get out a notebook at home and write page after page of joined up handwriting practice.
For N it’s important he enjoys it and finds it easy because his letter formation normally is still shocking – he’s learnt the correct way but still does his own way for speed. So getting the hang of cursive writing is so important for him to be able to form his letters properly and to be able to be a faster and hopefully neater writer in future.
I know my handwriting was terrible at school (and now it’s even worse because it’s all over the place, and only ever read by myself). I blame it on being a left hander although I don’t curl my hand round, I don’t get mucky inky hands or smeared paper and I do write in various different directions. I was always jealous of my French penpal who had beautiful, very French style handwriting compared to the writing of myself and my friends.
People do seem to put less importance on handwriting. Because everyone uses email and computers for work, people use social media and phones to converse. So handwriting is seen as a dying out skill. But handwriting still has a place in society.
Why practice handwriting?
Who doesn’t like to get a handwritten note or postcard in the post?
A handwritten thank you letter shows more care and interest in the giver than a quick text does.
Handwriting tells the story of arts and culture through history.
Handwriting defines a person and tells you about their personality (it’s easy to recognise the sender from a handwritten envelope from friends).How to help kids get the most out of handwriting practice
Being strong at handwriting also helps with understanding and learning to put yourself over well, reliant on your own spelling and grammar rather than leaving it to spell checks and not really understanding what you’re reading and writing.
For children handwriting is all about developing their fine motor skills and focus. If they can sit and write, it helps concentration which will then help with other similar skills.
Expert tips on handwriting
It’s not just me who thinks handwriting is important. The writing specialists, Uni-ball are working to raise awareness of children’s handwriting and handwriting in education. The Institute of Education state that the standard of handwriting education in primary schools can directly impact on secondary school and higher education success. Unbelievably, 25% of UK adults are classed as functionally illiterate with many unable to write a birthday card or cheque (The National Literacy Trust).
Top tips to get your children doing handwriting practice:
1, Start them off early – don’t force them, but make pencils, pens and papers available from an early age to get them used to using them.
2, Teach them to use cutlery early (N was using a spoon from early on in weaning, and a knife and fork from 13 months old), it’ll help with them getting the hang of holding things utensils and moving them in their hands.
3, Provide the right paper for the right stage of handwriting.
4, Little and often practise, when they’re open to doing writing.
5, Make writing fun – do it in sand or rice, with sticks, paintbrushes, invisible ink etc.
Giving children the knowledge and handwriting practice when they’re young means they have that basic knowledge to progress in their literacy and school journey. It might be that they end up like many of us having scrawly writing in future because it doesn’t matter, but I’d hate N to be one of that 25% who can’t write sufficiently.
What’s your experience been of helping children with handwriting? What’s yours like?
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