Have you ever looked at a student’s handwritten essay and thought you were reading an ancient language? Or perhaps an alien language?
Yikes! That’s quite hard to make out, isn’t it?
Well in one of my classes, I’m teaching debate. Our debate topic for this unit is stating that typing should be taught before handwriting. I’m not sure I agree, but it got me thinking. Every month my co-teachers and I give speaking and writing tests to our students. The writing tests, of course, are handwritten. Some students have wonderful legible handwriting, while others do not.
If I can’t read it, it’s wrong.
As students learn to read and write a language, they learn to form the letters, and put those letters together to make words. Teachers of any language should stress making the letters and words as neatly and correctly as possible.
Handwriting develop begins as soon as children begin learning a language. As they learn the phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (individual characters, letters), they should learn how to make those characters on paper.
Five Tips For Teaching Handwriting
- It all begins with the pencil grip. Whether your student is right-handed or left-handed, they need to develop their fine motor skills enough to hold their pencil correctly.
- Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. Get on up, it’s writing time! Writing has a natural rhythm, and demonstrate this by using large-motor movements. It’s a great way to help young children develop their gross motor skills, as well as use TPR (Total Physical Response) in the classroom. they can “write” the letters in the air with their arms and hands in motion. Then slowly move on to writing on paper.
- Teach lower case letters first. Most of the time, students will come across lower case letters more often than upper case ones. As students begin to master lower case characters, slowly introduce upper case ones. It’s best to split the alphabet in half while doing this. Use big visual cards to help students see how to write the letters.
- Focus on accuracy instead of size. Regardless of whether the students write letters large or small, they should focus on writing the letters correctly – making sure the lines and curves where they need to be. As students become more comfortable writing letters accurately, have them start focusing on size.
- Keep the lessons short. If you’re teaching young learners, keep lessons and practice sessions to thirty minutes, with a short introduction and demonstration, and giving students ample time for practice. If you’re teaching older students, you can lengthen the lessons at your discretion.
The Importance of Teaching Handwriting
Handwriting helps our brains develop muscle memory, fine and gross motor movements, and also learning to process several things at once. Learning to write also helps students read as they sound out the letters, and then forming words.
The debate topic my class is learning suggests that typing should be taught before handwriting, and I disagree. While typing is an important skills to learn, especially as computers become more involved in our daily lives, handwriting is a skill that will never fail.
For further reading, resources, and information, check out these sites:
If you have any tips or tricks of your own,
leave them in a comment below!