Is teaching handwriting to kids still relevant in this day of technology? According to research, teaching handwriting has advantages beyond just writing (Dinehart, 2014). More and more research is showing a connection between the development of cognitive abilities that are the cornerstone of future academic performance and the fine motor skills needed for handwriting. Children learn to read more quickly because they have improved letter-recognition skills when they write letters.
Many research shows that the act of writing by hand stimulates the cerebral pathways connected to good reading abilities. In fact, handwriting is extremely important in the development of the brain networks that underpin the acquisition of powerful reading abilities. Only when youngsters practice their handwriting do these neural connections form; they do not occur when they trace or type letters (James & Berninger, 2019).
Therefore, it may be detrimental to pupils' development of reading skills to replace handwriting teaching with keyboarding skills throughout the elementary school years. Before pupils have mastered handwriting, switching to keyboarding "may impair their capacity to recognize letters" (MacKenzie, 2019), which affects their ability to write letters fluently and their overall reading development.
In addition to learning to read more rapidly, children who begin to write by hand are also better at coming up with ideas and remembering details. Berninger (quoted in Konnikova, 2014) discovered that kids created more words, more quickly while writing by hand than when typing, but they also articulated more thoughts.
Why teach handwriting?
Early writers have more mental space to focus on phonics, spelling, punctuation, and the idea they want to get over. If writing is laborious and cognitively challenging, the opposite is usually true: pupils' spelling is frequently subpar, their punctuation is inadequate, and the writing's substance may be fragmented, imprecise, or very brief rather than comprehensive and detailed.
In order for kids to show that they comprehend the principles being taught, we need them to have a strong grasp of handwriting. After completing a successful handwriting curriculum, kids should focus on idea formulation rather than letter formation.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that good handwriting education is a crucial component of literacy instruction, many schools do not provide enough direct handwriting instruction (Asher, 2006). Legibility and speed are the ultimate goals of handwriting teaching in schools for the kids. The amount to which children are finally able to write legibly and quickly depends, like other academic talents, on the development of core writing skills. Because they are practicing less, children's handwriting is often slower now. It is ESSENTIAL for the effective development of this crucial ability to get regular, specific training in the classroom. Along with this, a CONSISTENT approach is critical throughout a school to provide kids the best chance to acquire the challenging skill of handwriting.
The following are just a few of the many advantages of your child having strong handwriting:
- Improved fine motor abilities. Your child's hand muscles get terrific exercise while holding a pencil or other writing instrument, which strengthens her pincher grip. Other elements of daily life, such as eating, picking up objects, and getting dressed, also require both talents.
- Better knowledge retention. Your child will have a higher chance of remembering and understanding material if they take notes or complete their schoolwork on paper rather than on a computer. This usually results in improved academic success. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) system in the brain is activated by writing. RAS helps the brain prioritize what it is currently working on by filtering the information it needs to process.
- Reduces distractions and enhances concentration. How frequently have you sat down at a computer with a particular objective in mind only to be frequently sidetracked or lose focus? Your youngster can concentrate on the task at hand while handwriting without nearly as many interruptions as while typing on a computer.
- Provide a sensory experience. Each letter, number, or symbol is made up of certain finger and hand movements that each produce a different sensory experience. Additionally, writing stimulates a variety of senses. When writing by hand, both visual and tactile (touch) senses are employed.
- develops cognitive abilities. Writing exercises your child's memory, motor skills, visual, and perceptual areas of the brain, keeping them active and sharp as he gets older.
How to teach handwriting to children?
Daily phonics education should include letter formation exercises. Children build strong auditory identification skills as they hear the sound, strong pronunciation skills as they utter the sound, strong visual recognition skills as they see the sound or letter, and strong letter formation skills as they write the sound or letter. This all-encompassing strategy makes sure that kids create solid representations of the letters and sounds for the development of their reading and spelling skills.
A multisensory approach—instruction and practice in a range of learning modalities—appears to have important benefits for learning to write by hand. Combining numbered arrows, letter formation beginning points, and air writing has been proven to be successful in helping a kid establish consistent letter formation. In the early years, accurate motor pattern development is prioritized over speed. This research serves as the foundation for PLD's approach, which uses arrows as visual cues, verbal cues for letter formation, and the practice of air writing to assist reinforce good letter formations.
What font, cursive, or foundation first?
Dr. Virginia Berninger, a researcher, advocates teaching print first since it translates better to word recognition, followed by cursive later (in the middle primary years), which helps with the development of speed for compositions, and then touch typing in the upper primary years.
The procedure is complicated by using a cursive font for spelling and writing and a foundation font (used by most readers) for reading. This is especially true for kids who have trouble remembering the shapes of the letters and with visual perception.
Students find it more difficult to recognize cursive characters, and employing cursive typefaces does not make letter reversals less common (Richmond, 2010). The idea that utilizing a cursive typeface can help pupils move to joined writing more smoothly is unsupported by research.
When a cursive font is required in the early childhood environment, teachers will encounter challenges.
A large percentage of young children will have trouble forming the ticks at the ends of letters. Some of these students will exhibit disproportionately large or huge ticks (i.e. poor control of the ticks). Other kids might create a foundational font letter, remove the pencil, and then add a tick (i.e. rather than a continuous and controlled single motion, 2 patterns are produced with a pencil lift between each.)
To improve children's learning of handwriting and literacy, a consistent reading and handwriting font is advised. At PLD, we always advocate using a foundation font from Early Years to Year 2, and then a cursive font after that. This order, in our opinion, provides children with the most opportunity to build literacy and fine motor skills confidence, allowing them to gradually acquire pace and their own style.
What is the proper sequence for introducing letters?
Beginner writers' handwriting appears to be unaffected by the order in which the alphabet's letters are introduced to them. However, because they are not used as often in early training, capitalization is less important.
The introduction of letter formation should ideally take place in the same order as the Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) Program. This all-encompassing strategy makes sure that kids create solid representations of the letters and sounds for the development of their reading and spelling skills.
Reversible letters that are frequently mistaken are grouped and taught separately in an SSP program. This is crucial for the development of a kid's handwriting because if one letter formation is mastered before a related reversible letter (like b/d) is introduced, the youngster will make fewer mistakes.
Based on the most recent research, PLD's structured synthetic phonics approach combines phonics training with writing instruction.
How Effective are Handwriting Worksheets as Teaching Materials?
Handwriting worksheets are an excellent resource for giving kids practice using various pictorial, written, or visual aids for the concepts they have learned in class. By practicing on the concepts in an engaging way rather than mere memorization, enables the students to retain the information well. Handwriting practice worksheets help teachers assess how well a student knows a certain letter since they allow them to see exactly where a student is having trouble. Handwriting worksheets, on the other hand, are an important tool for parents and kids to use to get feedback on their learning progress.
Handwriting practice sheets are regarded as an effective teaching tool since they are thoughtfully created via thorough planning to assist the students in gaining personalized practice on the relevant subject. They may also be produced with various objectives in mind. Worksheets that practice a range of letters and words will help pupils improve their handwriting, as well as their ability to reason and widen their thinking. Remedial worksheets are available that are created to concentrate on the learning gaps so the teacher may learn more about the students' comprehension of the subject. Overall, the handwriting exercises help improve the student's interest in the material and foster conceptual learning. This gives the kids drive to study more while also boosting their confidence as they are introduced to the letters and words through a range of situations.
Worksheets for handwriting also have the benefit of helping students practice academic topics through writing, which is thought to be an excellent way to retain information. Structured worksheet pedagogy is an effective strategy to teach the necessary educational abilities in children by maximizing instructional time, methodically focusing on vital skills, and creating space for autonomous study.
Structured methods of instruction, such as employing handwriting worksheets, help teachers be more successful teachers and help students understand what is being taught since they have a clear direction and can have a thorough understanding of the subject.
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