What are your attitudes towards poor handwriting, as a parent, teacher or even an employer?
As a handwriting expert, I work closely to help those struggling with handwriting to master legible handwriting; correcting the pencil grip and sitting position to help increase speed and fluency and prevent pain when writing. Throughout this time, I have worked with people of all ages and all abilities, and from my experience I have learned that this common misconception surrounding poor handwriting and intelligence is just not correct.
The poor handwriting we are seeing in so many young adults today has nothing to do with their level of intelligence. Many high academic achievers have extremely poor handwriting, including numerous doctors.
In order to achieve legible handwriting at primary school, a child needs the following three things:
- A child needs to be taught using the correct method for teaching: letter formation with an exit stroke and not with a method that follows the latest educational trends.
- A child needs to be allowed the time to master each stage of handwriting before being moved too quickly onto the next stage. The learning process should start with developing their fine and gross motor skills, before moving onto holding a pencil correctly, learning individual letter formation and finally onto the joining of letters.
- Finally, a child needs effective handwriting support and intervention, both from the teacher and the parents. I have always used the statement that learning to write is like riding a bike. When we learn to ride a bike with we begin with the easy and necessary steps; we learn how to use the pedals and the breaks, all whilst learning to balance with stabilisers. This is the same with handwriting. We should begin with the basics of handwriting before moving onto the more complex area of joining letters. Support and intervention is needed throughout the entirety of this learning process, to ensure that bad handwriting habits are corrected quickly, and do not become embedded.
However, many primary schools across the UK are not providing children with these 3 things due to the pressure of the Key Stage 1 primary assessments. Instead they are opting to use the continuous cursive method with a lead in/entry stroke from Reception which skips letter formation and does not provide children with adequate time to master the basics before moving onto the joining of handwriting. It is also the cause of the bad handwriting habits that I am seeing on a regular basis and that I spend 95% of my time correcting.
So, join me in challenging the incorrect attitudes towards poor handwriting and challenging the Government and policy makers to ensure schools teach the correct letter formation with exit strokes before rushing children to join up their handwriting for primary assessments.
Never give up on achieving legible handwriting; it is a window to our personality!