Handwriting Teaching Routes and Letter fonts

Handwriting animation page

The website design has been up for two weeks now and we hope that you are finding your way around OK.

Over the next few weeks we will be guiding you through some of the new changes. All the animations, worksheets, games, activities and support information that was on the old website design is still in the new one with some new elements and most importantly is still FREE for all to use on a non-commercial basis.

Teaching Routes

To support schools and the parents of children whose school use the website to teach their children, we have organised the animations and worksheets into our 4 main Teaching Routes. These are based on the most common teaching routes (approaches) used in schools to teach handwriting.

We refer to these as Teaching Routes A, B, C and D. The teaching route used by a school will depend on which letter font they will introduce in Foundation Stage (4 – 5 year olds) and then teach in Key Stage 1 (5 – 7 year olds).

More information on the Teaching Routes for handwriting can be found in our Handwriting Letters Fonts section: http://bit.ly/2RFlHEN

Letter Fonts

There are four main font styles taught in UK schools; manuscript capital letters, manuscript print (sometimes referred to as the ball and stick method), cursive and continuous cursive.

The capital letter and print letters in the UK have a standard letter shape and formation for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. However, this is not the case for cursive and continuous cursive letter fonts.

For the Teach Handwriting Website and The Teaching Handwriting Scheme for schools (if purchased) we have standardized 23 of the letters in the cursive and continuous cursive fonts and offer different versions for the letters w, x and z.

The letter version chosen dictates which letter family (teaching groups) they belong in. This is why we have the Letter Versions 1, 2, 3 and 4. In each letter version all the letters and worksheets are in the appropriate letter families.

More information on the Letter Versions for handwriting can be found in our Handwriting Letters Fonts section: http://bit.ly/2RFlHEN

Get your free animations and worksheets for all our fonts letters and numbers by clicking through to the Handwriting animations and worksheets page on our website: http://bit.ly/2F9P7cI

The Best Type of Paper for Teaching Handwriting

Just as the writing tool used by children changes as they develop, so does the paper they write on.

Informal Pre-handwriting Pattern and Initial Letter Development

If your child is just starting out on the handwriting adventure then any type of plain paper (no ruled lines) is considered the best option, as many children find it less restrictive.

Young children, due to the stage of their physical development, use large movements to draw (from the shoulder rather than the wrist) which often creates larger shapes and lines; you don’t want to restrict this movement as it can cause handwriting difficulties later. As their gross and fine motor skills develop so does their pencil grip and ability to draw and write at a smaller scale, moving more from the shoulder to elbow and wrist.

Formal Pre-handwriting Pattern and Letter Development

When your child is ready to refine their pre-handwriting pattern skills, or move on to forming letters, it is a good idea to use plain paper. The aim at this stage is to learn how to form the letters correctly, not size or neatness as that comes later.

Before moving to lined paper, to help children to start to appreciate the letter proportions and positioning, paper with picture clues can be used.

On our website the free writing paper and animations reinforce the idea of letter proportions and positioning by splitting the backgrounds into three colour zones to represent the sky, grass and earth. There are a number of reasons why this can be beneficial:

  • It can create a sub-conscious memory in a child’s mind of where particular letters sit in relation to others without the constraints of lines or obvious boundaries, especially as the picture can be any size. Children remember where to place the sun, grass or worms in their drawings; so why not letters?
  • It can be easier to talk through the formation of how a shape or letter is formed with pictorial and colour clues to guide and inform the direction of the movements required.
  • As a child’s fine motor skills develop so the size of the picture/colour clues can be reduced to match their progress.

As a child’s fine motor skills develop it enables them to form smaller more refined versions of the letters and this is when it is more appropriate to use lined paper.

Transferring their handwriting skills from worksheets to paper 

The aim is to try and move children off the worksheets as soon as possible by encouraging them to transfer their skills to plain or lined paper which is appropriate for their ability. I realise that it is not possible to buy paper with the appropriate line height in all cases, so would recommend creating your own on the computer.

We realise that printing off our worksheets and coloured lined paper can become costly so, here are our recommendations for helping to reduce the costs:

  • Suggestion 1 – Use a colour version of the appropriate worksheet initially and then try printing in grey scale. Children usually make the adjustment to grey scale well once they are used to how the picture clues and colours work. You could also use the grey scale worksheets and colour the start of each row with the appropriate colour.
  • Suggestion 2 – Use a combination of worksheets and lined paper in each handwriting session with a child:
  1. Use the colour worksheet, or a grey scale version, and complete one or two rows.
  2. Then encourage the child to try the same patterns or letters on appropriately lined paper, again try one or two rows only.

 

Hopefully the worksheet will last over a couple of handwriting sessions and you and the child will see an improvement over the time. The sooner they learn to transfer their skills to paper the better.

For different types of pre-handwriting pattern and letter formation paper go to our resources section: http://bit.ly/1PKXB46

Which to Teach First: Capital or Lower-Case Letters?

Once a 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.

Why?

  • One reason is 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.

A 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 a child can develop a speedy, fluid and legible handwriting style.

Free Letter Formation Animations & Worksheets: http://bit.ly/1dqBYFm

Why it is Important to Teach Correct Letter Formation

 

It can often be assumed children will pick up how to write letters if they see them often enough (by osmosis). This is just not the case.  Correct letter formation has to be taught. Seeing a completed letter or word or watching it be typed up and appear on a screen does not show children how to form the letters.

For children to develop a good handwriting style it is important to learn how to form letters correctly to begin with as this makes the transition from single letter formation to joined letter handwriting much easier. This enables them to develop a speedy, fluid and legible handwriting style.

Letters are created through joining lines and curve shapes in a particular way. They have a designated start point and set directional pushes and pulls of the pencil to reach the designated finish point. This is why at Teach Handwriting we teach letter formation in groups/families rather than in alphabetical order. Certain groups use the same, or similar, shape and directional push and pulls of the pencil to form the letter, for instance the letter c has the same start point and anti-clockwise directional movement shape that is needed to create the letters a, d, g, o and, though a little more complicated, the letters s and e. Teaching letters in groups and families can also help to limit letter reversals such as b and d.

Due to how handwriting has or hasn’t been taught over the generations means that we all have our own way of handwriting. When supporting and teaching young children we need to develop a consistent approach so that they do not get confused or frustrated by adults giving them conflicting information.

For parents this means finding out from your child’s school which letter font they are teaching so that you can support them more effectively at home. This may mean that you have to learn a new way of writing some letters. This also applies to teachers and teaching assistants. As the adults in the situation we have to accept that it is for us to make the changes. Just because something is different from the way we were taught, or do it, doesn’t mean it is wrong it is just different!

Our letter animations are not just to support children with their learning but also to provide parents and teachers (all adults really) with the knowledge and support to help children develop a consistent handwriting style.

Teaching Letter Joins – A Systematic Approach

Cursive oh join tall   cc oh join tall

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

What’s The Difference between Cursive and Continuous Cursive Handwriting Fonts?

Cursive a Cloud   CC a Cloud

Many people think that Cursive is just short for Continuous Cursive. In fact they are two different handwriting fonts.

Cursive:

  • The letters start at different points.
  • The finishing points for all the letters is the writing line; except for, o, r, v and w, which have a top exit stroke.
  • The single letter formations are taught with just the exit strokes.

Continuous Cursive

  • 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.

Get free animations and worksheets for all our fonts letters and numbers by clicking through to the Letters page on our website:  http://bit.ly/2yJf27x

Which to Teach First: Capital or Lower Case Letters?

Phonics Assessment Pages

Dated 28/09/17

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.

Why?

  • 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