Even in an age of ever-advancing technology, handwriting still remains an essential life skill for both kids and adults. It continues to be the primary communication tool in classrooms, and yet, studies in 2002 estimate that 10 to 30 per cent of elementary students struggle with handwriting.
Why is handwriting important?
In addition to being an essential life skill still used daily by children and adults alike, researchers have also found correlations between handwriting and academic performance. Specifically, children who experience difficulty mastering handwriting often experience lower academic success – both in writing and in other subject areas. Reasons include:
• The physical act of handwriting is difficult for them and so they limit or avoid written work resulting in less detailed answers.
• Some students conclude they are simply not good writers and therefore do not put in the effort (creating a self-fulfilling prophecy).
• Illegible handwriting can also have negative effects on self-esteem and a student’s self-concept of themselves as a learner.
Who teaches handwriting?
There was a time when formalized penmanship lessons and drills were part of the regular classroom experience. However, over the decades, less time and attention has been paid to the development of these skills. If you feel your children’s handwriting is delayed, discuss it with their teacher. However, it may fall upon you to help them improve their skills.
What needs to be taught?
Here are some key areas that may need addressed in handwriting instruction:
Posture. Avoid slouching. Students should be sitting in a comfortable position – relatively straight, with their back against the chair back.
Grip. A traditional three-finger grip is ideal. Non-standard grips often force a student to grip the pencil too tightly and tire fingers prematurely. Using store bought pencil grips can be very helpful.
Letter formation. All letters are formed from a few simple shapes—horizontal line, vertical line, circle and cross. Learning proper technique is crucial, as practicing inferior letter formation will not improve overall quality or speed. Many resources are available online for free or a fee. A particularly excellent program is Handwriting Without Tears. (www.hwtears.com)
Letter placement. Students need to know where on the lines to place letters (especially how long to make the parts that stick above or below the others, as in a “b” or “p”.) Spacing between letters and words is also very important.
Interested in getting support for a successful September start? Visit www.YouthCoachCanada.com or call 905.515.9822.