We would recommend the same approach to joining letters whether your child has learnt cursive or continuous cursive single letter fonts; teaching the joins in join type groups.
Teaching the join types in their groups helps a child to understand the directional push and pulls required to successfully join the different letter combinations.
There are 4 main groups of letter joins; bottom joins, bottom to “c” shape joins, “e” joins (top and bottom join strokes) and top joins.
Moving from Cursive Single Letters to Joining
There are seven join strokes to be taught Most children will find the bottom joins the easiest to achieve, as it only requires the extension of the exit stroke they already put on the letters. The bottom to “c” shape joins can be tricky at first but soon mastered. The joins that tend to cause the most confusion and difficulty are the “e” joiners and top exit joiners.
I would recommend teaching the bottom joins first, then the ‘e’ joins and finally the top exit letter joins.
Moving from Continuous Cursive Single Letters to Joining
There are three join strokes to be taught. The easiest is the bottom exit letters (the majority of the letters), all a child has to do is write the letters closer together without lifting their pencil off the paper. Only the top to “e” and top joiners need to be taught for continuous cursive, as the nature of the font style means that the lead-in and exit strokes needed to join the majority of letter combinations have already been taught.
I would recommend teaching the bottom joins first, then the top exit to ‘e’ join and finally the top exit letter joins.
For more information about the letter join type groups and links to supporting animations check out our ‘How to Join Letters of the Alphabet’: http://bit.ly/1y0Haf7
and ‘Tips For Teaching How to Join Letters When Handwriting’: http://bit.ly/1Iv1g5Q
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