Still a Necessary Skill, handwriting Fosters School Success
By Jan Z. Olsen
In today’s fast-paced computer age, handwriting seems like a forgotten art…but think again. Handwriting is coming into sharp focus—and for good reason. While overall student confidence and early academic success are often directly related to handwriting, the new handwritten essay section of the SAT and other state tests have revitalized the interest of many parents and educators in handwriting.
Good handwriting is a skill we learn in early elementary school, but the benefits of good handwriting extend our entire lives. The truth is that mastering handwriting sets children up for other learning successes.
Handwriting builds confidence, teaches children to have an organized approach and enhances their ability to communicate. Think about how exciting it is when a child writes his or her name for the first time. Think about how nice it is to be able to write easily and well.
Several studies show that children with good handwriting feel more confident and proud of their work, and other studies demonstrate that legible papers receive higher grades than do illegible ones. Students who don’t master neat letter formation are at a disadvantage, which can impact a child’s grade on spelling tests, math quizzes, and essays. A student’s poor handwriting can be particularly detrimental during the new SAT and the standardized tests in many states that now require a handwritten essay section. While these exams aim to measure a child or teen’s ability to clearly express oneself, it is imperative that the handwriting be legible and automatic in order to maximize thinking time and creative writing skills.
“If scorers can’t read it, how can they give students a proper grade?” said Leslie Thornton, the principal of Mill Valley Schools.
The focus of today’s handwriting lessons is on developing good habits that make students legible, fluent writers. Handwriting becomes an automatic skill that students don’t have to think about. Handwriting has been an integral part of communication for as long as there has been recorded history. And there is no evidence that anything will ever completely take its place.
Tips for parents
1. Do it correctly yourself: Remember that children learn by imitating you, so make sure that you are holding your pencil and forming your letters correctly.
2. Sit up straight: Make sure your child can sit with her feet on the floor and her arm can move freely wherever she writes, at home or school.
3. Read: Show your children the importance of communicating through words.
4. Sing: When you sing the alphabet song, show your children the letters as you sing. Sing songs that use their fingers, like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “The Crayon Song” on the Get Set For School™ Sing-Along CD
5. Draw: Children who draw often write better. For young drawers, give them broken pieces of chalk or crayons to use. They will have no choice but to hold these small pieces correctly.
6. Move: Teach spatial words, like “under, over, top, middle, and bottom” by using visual representations. Put one hand under another, etc.
7. Go “Top Left”: Get children in the habit of going from top to bottom and left to right.
8. Give them little bites: Encourage children, even ones as young as 9 months old, to pick up small objects, like tiny pieces of food, with their fingers. It will help to develop writing muscles and good coordination.
9. Play: Encourage preschoolers to use finger paints and sponges to strengthen writing muscles and reinforce coordination.
10. Ask: Discuss with your child’s teacher what resources are available to help develop their skills.
Fun Activities You Can Do At Home With The Kids
1. Make cookie letters. Have your child form the letters by rolling the dough and putting the pieces together.
2. Put letters on a die and have your child roll the dice. They have to write a word that starts with the letter.
3. Use a flashlight and make letters on the wall. You or your child has to guess the letter that was made. You can also cut out letter templates to place in front of the flashlight.
4. While your child is in the bathtub have them draw letters on the wall of the tub in shaving cream or soap paint. Ceramic tiles work well as slates.
5. Form letters out of French Fries.
6. Trace letters in the snow or sand.
7. Forms letters out of Play-Doh or clay.
8. Make letters with pipe cleaners.
9. Have your children write your shopping lists.
Pediatric occupational therapist Jan Z. Olsen is the founder and creator of Handwriting Without Tears, a multi-sensory handwriting curriculum. Olsen has specialized in child development and its application to handwriting for nearly 30 years.
With thanks from the source: http://www.curiousparents.com/Main/xq/asp/article....