Monday, October 27, 2008

Is handwriting a trivial skill?

We all know it's important to introduce early literacy to young children. Many experts advise that we read to our children at least 20 minutes a day. It's seem obvious that a child who is read to will develop a larger vocabulary and have a greater chance of being engaged in book reading as they grow. But what about printing?

Why Handwriting is Important

Handwriting is important for a number of reasons:

- if printing is challenging for a little learner than valuable mental resources are being used for what may be perceived as an arduous task. This takes the focus off the higher level literacy skills such as writing, attention to content, elaboration of details, and organization of ideas.

- poor handwriting can effect note and test taking, classroom and homework - almost every area of academic school performance

- if a child views handwriting as a challenging task they are less likely to be motivated to write

- handwriting in the younger years is linked to early reading and spelling achievement. When a child learns to print, they are also likely learning the letter sounds. They areas of handwriting, reading and spelling are linked.

So what can parents do to help their little learners?

Without a huge time investment, 10 or 15 minutes a day can really help prevent later writing problems. Early habits are hard to break so it's important to start them off on the right foot - I guess that should be hand!

Here are some helpful hints:
-encourage printing from top to bottom, left to right
-teach children to print with one continuous stroke when applicable
-emphasis the consistency of the letter formation rather than the size of legibility
-start with large motions, such as forming letters in the air with their whole arm
- teach similar formed letters together i.e. c, a d.
- separate reversibles such as b and d. Children seem to do better when they have mastered one of the reversibles before introducing the second.
-use arrow clues
- aim for speed in addition to legibility. Once a child can form the letters correctly and from memory then you can work on the speed

The information above came from an article at written by Louise Spear-Swerling, entitled "The Importance of Teaching Handwriting"

Lee-Ann O'Neill is the mompreneur behind The Little Stamp Company, which produces Learn to Print 'Signature' stamps for little learners to stamp, trace and learn to print their names.... Correctly !

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