Here at Teach Handwriting we believe that a child is only ready to start learning to join their handwriting when:
- They have learnt to form all 26 lower case letters correctly
- Letters are of a consistent and suitable size (not necessarily the perfect size, remember big is beautiful)
- Letters are positioned appropriately on the writing line as well as in relation to one another.
Children generally begin to join letters between the ages of 6 to 7 years old, depending on the handwriting font style being taught. Those taught a continuous cursive font style from the beginning tend to join much earlier due to the nature of this font (for some by the end of their Reception Year).
Children do not need to be able to remember how to correctly form all their capital letters before they are taught how to join their letters. This is because capital letters never join to the lower case letters in a word. However, for these children correct capital letter formation needs to be taught alongside the introduction of letter joins.
The ultimate aim is for a child to develop a good handwriting style; which means;
- They can produce and maintain a good speed
- Have a fluid hand movement that is comfortable
- Letters are of a consistent and appropriate size, positioned correctly
- Handwriting is legible (so others can read it easily).
For some children (mainly SEND pupils) this may mean that they will always print or use a single letter form of writing as learning to join is just not appropriate. But that does not mean they will not comply with the bullet points above.
Once your child has mastered pre-handwriting patterns they are ready to start learning how to form letters, numbers and symbols.
But where do you start?
Our personal view would be to focus on Lower Case letters.
- One reason being that about 95% of what children write, and are exposed to, is in a Lower Case form and only 5% in Capital.
- Lower Case letters are far less complicated, requiring fewer pencil lifts to complete the letters.
- As both Lower Case and Capital letters require a child to form curved lines, a skill which most children have to practise, writing lower case letters is no more difficult than writing capitals.
- In a young child’s writing all the letters are initially the same size, whether they are Capitals or Lower Case; it is part of the normal developmental path of handwriting. So the view that teaching Capitals letters is easier because they are bigger is not true.
- Young children who have learnt mostly Capital letters first find it difficult to stop, as it is so ingrained into the memory, often using them half way through words and sentences. Even when they are older this inappropriate use of Capitals creeps back into their work especially if they are tired or concentrating hard on composing their work.
Your child’s first major achievement, in their eyes, is to write their name. So, although concentrating on Lower Case letters, teach them how to form the Capital letter of their name to get them excited about handwriting.
As they master the Lower Case letters introduce the remainder of the Capital letters. It is important that both are taught so that your child can develop a speedy, fluid and legible handwriting style.
Free Letter Formation Animations & Worksheets: http://bit.ly/1dqBYFm