School Reports – Handwriting Improvements Needed!
So, the school report has been received and you have been told that your child needs to improve their handwriting.
This is all well and good, but what exactly needs improving?
What are they finding difficult and how on earth do you write a continuous cursive z?
So, you eventually get some handwriting practice sheets home or off the web. But no amount of time spent doing them seems to make much difference. It seemed to take longer to get them started than they spent practising handwriting. In fact they seemed worse because they were unhappy and frustrated with their own progress, so the more you try to push them the more resistant they become. Eventually you think there has to be a better way than this?
Doing more of what you are already struggling with is not always the answer. Handwriting is a complex skill to learn and there are a number of reasons why a child may be struggling.
To check that your child’s handwriting skill base is appropriate for their age, and/or to find where you are best focusing support at home, check out the parent section of our website, I would suggest looking at the following section first:
Supporting your child’s handwriting development can be fun using physical games and activities. To check if your child needs extra physical strength support or has other specific learning needs check out these areas in the parent section of our website:
With the summer holidays coming up it is a great time for you to be able to observe and assess your child’s key physical strengths and skills. Armed with this knowledge you can play games and do activities which then help them to develop the strengths and skills which may be holding them back and making handwriting a difficult task to master.
It is important to check and know which letter formations are being taught in school and that this is what you teach at home. Otherwise you will only be causing more frustration and stress for your child.
Tracing has been an activity frequently presented to encourage young children to learn how to form letter shapes, especially in early years teaching.
However, current research suggests that encouraging young children to free write is a more powerful way of engaging the brain to learn how to form letters when compared to tracing them.
Learning to handwrite requires a child to remember which shape they want to make (visual memory) and how to make it (motor memory).
Here at Teach Handwriting we feel that traditional pencil tracing activities are not a particularly effective way to teach children pre-handwriting patterns and letter formations. This is because children are often so focused on controlling the writing tool around the shape that they do not fully engage their motor memory storage and visual memory skills.
We believe that finger tracing a pre-handwriting pattern or letter shape is more effective than pencil tracing. The greater resistance provided by finger tracing stimulates a child’s nervous system, instantly making them aware of their actions and helping them to focus on the movement by engaging both the motor memory and visual memory. This information is initially stored in their short-term memory but, with continued practise, moves to their long-term memory. Having to think less about how to form the shape, because they can subconsciously recall how to make it, allows a child to then concentrate on controlling the pencil.
Looking at a few different school websites and queries from parents this week we found that some think that Cursive is just short for Continuous Cursive. In fact, they are two different handwriting font styles:
- The letters start at different points (the same as print letters).
- The finishing points for all the letters is at the writing line (with a small exit stroke); except for, o, r, v and w, which have a top exit stroke.
- The single letter formations are taught with just the exit strokes.
- When cursive is joined the first letter in the word does not have an entry stroke for example:
- The starting point for all the letters is the same; on the writing line.
- The finishing points for all the letters is also at the writing line; except for, o, r, v and w, which have a top exit stroke.
- The single letter formations are taught with the entry and exit strokes, this makes the transition from single letter formation to joined handwriting very straightforward and allows it to occur sooner.
- When continuous cursive is joined the first letter in the word has an entry stroke for example:
Be aware, some schools will say they are teaching a Cursive font when in fact they are teaching a Continuous Cursive font.