Handwriting: Why Is It Important and How to Teach Children Write Manually?
In the modern world of technology, we rarely take pens in our hands to write something on a sheet of paper. Gadgets are irreplaceable in our everyday life, and they sneak into all spheres of it, including education.
In many ways, devices and Internet support and improve students’ experience. Should we replace handwriting completely by essay writing on a laptop? Or maybe letter formation is still essential?
While keyboards seem to be more convenient and straightforward, researchers claim that there is a connection between letter-writing and literacy. Reading development is tied to writing and naming letters because of the hand-brain connections. The neural activity of our brain is more intense when we write letters; that is why we recognize them easier in text. As a result, the fluency of writing and reading grows, which entails overall intellectual development.
Some teaching practices
Handwriting is not a very complicated practice to teach. Instruction doesn’t require too much of your time and effort: short lessons plus feedback and mistake correction are enough. Brief handwriting practices can be incorporated into everyday learning schedules.
When teaching handwriting, one should focus on four crucial aspects: formation, pen holding, pace, and readability.
At this point, an instructor should show children how letters are formed. Students find it hard to write curved elements of the letters, while straight lines are much easier for them to grasp. That is why you should start your teaching with capital letters and move to the lowercase symbols later.
Along with writing, students should practice the pronunciation of letters. Encourage kids to name the letters aloud as they write them. This will help them memorize both graphical elements and sounds. As such, letters will be tied to phonemes they make.
Some students might have problems with formation. For them, clear and detailed instructions are necessary. Teach them to write symbols at the top or middle (depends on the letter, of course) and tell them to make the lines as continuous as possible. Control the process and help them understand the moment when a pen should be lifted to make a new stroke. Various helpful tools will make the process easier. Lined sheets of paper, as well as samples of letters, will help. Provide them with visual help like dotted symbols for tracing, arrows that show the right direction, dots that depict the start of the movement, etc.
Similar letters like p and q or b and d can be easily confused by children. Show them the difference by explaining that these letters have different starting points – d starts in the middle, while b starts on the top. After they write these letters several times, their hand will start moving automatically.
- Pen holding
Efficient and comfortable writing can only be achieved when a student holds the pen correctly. Incorrect holding can lead to poor formation. Remind your students that the index finger and thumb should hold the pen against the middle finger.
If some of your students have problems with pen holding, use some tools to help them. For instance, you can try wrapping the band around the ring finger and keep the pen in the right position. Just don’t wrap the fingers too tightly!
Students that don’t have problems with formation and pen holding will easily cope with pacing. The only moment you should track attentively is pressing. If a child pushes the pen too hard, he/she might have problems with writing. At the same time, light pressing can be a sign of an incorrect pen holding. To solve the problem with pressing, offer students to write with different materials – pencils, markers, chalk, crayons, etc. This will help them notice the intensity of their pressing and adjust it.
One of the critical factors that influence readability is the gap between words. If your students don’t feel the spacing, teach them to use their fingers. Encourage kids to put their fingers on the line before they write another word.
The school program is full of various lessons and practices. Handwriting might not be the priority in this list. However, teachers are highly recommended to devote at least a couple of hours per week to train young students and help them learn to write letters by hand. Manual writing will influence their overall development and literacy in a very positive way. So let’s move forward along with the progress, but keep the valuable and useful practices from the pas as well.