The importance of developing good handwriting skills in children

Jan 2017
Handwriting is still vital in education
Schools depend on written communications to measure what students are learning.

With the majority of written communications now typed, handwritten communications are becoming more and more obsolete from everyday use.

Nevertheless, there is no need to pack away your pencil case, for handwritten communications will always have their use.

No form of communication can convey as much sentiment as a handwritten card or letter. Our handwriting conveys part of our personality, it's what makes us unique whilst being a form of identification used by our family and friends; typed communications lack this personal touch.

Most importantly, schools depend on written communications to measure what students are learning. Poor handwriting can have a significant effect on a child's school performance, with those lacking in efficiency potentially missing out on learning opportunities and lacking in confidence and self-esteem.

Younger students complete their classwork and homework by hand, and it is not until they reach the final years of primary school that they will be expected to use a computer. For this reason it is vitally important that they are comfortable and confident in their handwriting skills, so they can effectively demonstrate and showcase their ability.

And whilst the majority of GCSE and A-Level coursework is typed, students are still required to complete written examinations, calling upon their capability to express their ideas on paper fluently, neatly, and under timed conditions. They will also need to possess the stamina to write for a sustained period of time.

During exams students need to be able to adapt their handwriting speed to ensure they are able to get all their ideas written down in time; and whilst examiners do not expect a beautifully written masterpiece, they do expect the writing to be legible. If an answer is difficult to read vital marks could be lost simply because the examiner is unsure what has been written down.

So how can you help your child develop their handwriting skills?
Once you know how to do it handwriting becomes second nature; but when learning you have to master multiple skills, including coordinating the eyes, arms, and hands, memory, posture, and body control, as well as the task of holding a pencil and forming letters.

Fortunately there are a number of ways you can help encourage the acquisition of these skills in your child:

Play together: physical activity will help improve their hand-eye coordination, develop stamina, and strengthen their upper body muscles.

Read with them: regularly reading together and showing your child the book will help them to recognise letters and their formation.

Encourage them to draw pictures or paint: this gets them used to holding a small object in their hand, which they will then learn to grip and control. You could likewise do this with cutlery, teaching them to feed themselves with a spoon or fork.

Fun workbooks: ones with dot-to-dot exercises or those where you have to draw lines and shapes. These will help your child develop fine motor skills at the same time introducing them to the basic strokes for letter formation.

The Kumon worksheets are designed to subtly develop a child's handwriting skills. Students are asked to point and count shapes and objects on the early maths worksheets to foster their motor skills, whilst the Z levels in the English programme encourage students to develop their pencil skills by colouring, drawing lines and joining the dots. These worksheets help the early learners get used to holding and gripping a pencil so they don't struggle when they start school.

The maths worksheets also provide the students with a box in which they need to write their answer; these boxes gradually decrease in size as the student progresses through the programme until ultimately their handwriting is neat and appropriately sized, written without the use of aides.

Like any other skill, through practice handwriting efficiency will develop, so it's about keeping your child motivated and eager to improve.