“Handwriting is Autobiography” – Carrie Latet
Handwriting is a style of writing. Handwriting can be simply described as writing with one’s own hands. Every person has a unique style of writing. Even the twins who share the same appearance and genes have different handwriting.
Let us, as teachers, be honest and question ourselves: How much time do we spend teaching our students handwriting?
Across the country, handwriting instruction is getting backstage and losing its prominence, as teachers and students go electronic. Keyboarding and word processing are viewed as essential skills; handwriting is not given importance at all. As a result, many schools and districts, emboldened by the new standards, which only require students to be computer savvy, have drastically cut back on or eliminated handwriting instructions. Just because handwriting is not being tested, it doesn’t mean that it has no influence on other skills.
Benefits of Good Handwriting
“I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an Imperfect Education” – Mahatma Gandhi
Contrary to the view that handwriting is a trivial skill, handwriting actually is important for a number of reasons. To mention a few:
- Handwriting promotes fine motor skills: Visual-motor skills, such as eye-hand coordination, are associated with academic achievement. Scientists have found that developing fine motor skills in early childhood can predict not only writing success but better performance in reading and math in elementary school.
- Better handwriting leads to better writing skills: Children who can demonstrate skills in expressing their thoughts through the written word are more likely to have good handwriting. When kids struggle to write neatly and efficiently, they are often scolded for being lazy and disinterested, and this may affect their behaviour and self-esteem. The quality of handwriting is related to children’s ability to learn and write.
- Handwriting as an essential tool: Handwriting is a basic tool used in many subjects — taking notes, taking tests, and doing classroom work and homework for almost every content area as well as in language arts classes — poor handwriting can have an adverse effect on school performance.
- Handwriting is linked with reading and spelling: Handwriting in the earliest grades is linked to basic reading and spelling achievement; for example, when children learn how to form the letter “p” they can also be learning its sound. Attention to the linkages among handwriting, reading, and spelling skills can help to reinforce early achievement across these areas.
- Handwriting helps in Brain Development: Writing improves understanding. Good handwriting pleases our eyes and brain. The teachers should also have good handwriting in order to motivate her students to improve their writing style, the formation of letters and how they are shaped.
- A good handwriting is associated with enhancing learning: This fact plays an important role while writing a subjective test. Good and neat handwriting impress the teachers who are evaluating the papers. Good handwriting boosts academic success.
- Handwriting aids creativity and memory: Handwriting has an important connection with creativity and memory which is why it is such an important part of their development. Anything that will encourage them towards handwriting will help to strengthen their creativity and memory, which will, in turn, nurture them towards success.
- Improves Writing skills: A person with good handwriting enjoys writing. He is motivated to write more with better content. In this way, he can improve his writing skill in essay writing, articles, etc., it makes us more creative, helps in unlocking ideas and creating connections. Handwriting gives students enough time to think and focus while writing. The typing process, on the other hand, is more mechanical.
- Helps to boost confidence & personality: A person with good handwriting achieves more. He demonstrates better confidence in dealing with others and faces writing challenges easily with zeal. It has been scientifically proved that a person with good handwriting displays a better personality. They have a positive attitude towards life in order to achieve their goals. Through handwriting, students express their personality.
- Helps children with dysgraphia: A research study suggests that cursive writing may be particularly effective for individuals with developmental dysgraphia (motor-control difficulties in forming letters) and that it may aid in preventing the reversal and inversion of letters.
Suggestions for better handwriting for children
- Engage in Pre-writing activities: Children should be provided with opportunities to trace and draw shapes and simple drawings in early childhood much before the letters are introduced. Even making the simplest marks requires that a child's brain, nerve cells, and muscles work together to produce the desired result.
- Colour in the lines. Engage them in some special projects that require slow, controlled movements. For example, fill in shapes with paint or use small, circular strokes to colour an image.
- Use dark ruled and “bumpy” paper: Draw bold lines on wide-ruled paper at the top and bottom with a dotted line in between. This can help the child see barriers so the letters don’t drift. You can also trace the top and bottom lines with glue. When it dries, your child’s pencil will “bump” the lines as they write. Adequate exercises can be given regarding the formation and shape of each letter
- Hand-eye coordination. Help your child develop this skill with lots of gross motor hand-eye exercises. For example, threading the beads, moulding shapes with plasticine, play bean bag games, ball tossing games, and bat and ball games as much as possible. Worksheets and activity books that have mazes and follow-the-path pictures will help a great deal for fine & gross motor skills to develop.
- Monitor screen time: Educators continue to insist on a balance between screen use time and the real world. Encourage your child to spend less time on electronic devices and more time on gross motor and fine motor activities to build these skills. On the other hand, Computer games do not help develop the in-hand manipulation and finger skills that are needed for handwriting.
- Follow some samples: Keep the sample page and all the letters in front of you and practice writing out both individual letters and whole words regularly. Efforts should be consistent to see better results.
- Get relaxed: You’re just trying to make children for quick, clear, legible strokes that help them convert the thoughts in their heads to words on a page. Keep them Relaxed. It is believed that handwriting is the reflection of your thoughts.
- Choose the right material: A tri-sided pencil is suitable for children who begin to learn writing.
- Positioning of pen/ pencil: Squeezing the pen too tightly can cause your hand muscles and even your whole arm to cramp up, making it hard to write for more than a few minutes.
- Using pencil grips: Pencil grips of different varieties are available in the market. They come in different colours. There are pencil holders,2 finger grip, 5 finger grip etc. It’s designed ergonomically; it fits on pencils, pens, crayons. Easy and comfortable to use. Advantages are many: Improves Handwriting, Reduces Hand Fatigue, Gives support to fingers and most importantly it is non-toxic if it’s made of soft silicone gel.
- The most common pencil /pen grips are the Dynamic tripod and the Dynamic quadrupod grip. These two grips are advisable for comfortable writing positions.
“Good Writing is clear thinking made visible”- Bill Wheeler
Handwriting practice aids in cognitive development. When children participate in a writing exercise, they are able to use their minds in a flexible and creative way. Children are automatically exposed to learning key skills like handwriting and spelling.
Let’s accept that time has proved and there is certainly plenty of evidence that engaging them, talking to your young children, reading to them, playing with them, and co-viewing and co-using television, monitored and minimal internet or media usage provides a healthy start in developing the thinking, moving, talking, writing, and reading skills needed for a healthy and successful journey in school.
“Let’s all emphasize the importance of handwriting to improve the standard of children and help them develop holistically!”
- Dr. Sreepriya Ashok, Academic Consultant, CEP Global