If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that Amy started school this September and one of the things she’s been loving most about it is learning to write. Every couple of days, she comes home with a new letter and she absolutely loves practising them in one of her writing books. Not just because it gets her closer to writing her very own stories or postcards from holidays, no, Amy is working hard to get her pen license – a certificate they’re being awarded once they’ve reached a certain handwriting standard.
Now, you might think that making such a fuss about a child’s handwriting might be a little over the top but the Institute of Education has found out that your child’s handwriting education in primary schools can have a direct impact on success into secondary and higher education. As someone who has trained to be a teacher, I have always been very particular about Amy developing a good handwriting, although I never knew it had a direct connection with secondary education. I guess it really makes sense, though. Developing good handwriting takes time, dedication and practice – all traits that will help you when it comes to learning and mastering new skills.
Unfortunately, research by the National Literacy Trust suggests that as many as 25% of UK adults are classed as functionally illiterate which means that their reading and writing skills sit at a very basic level preventing them from understanding complex texts such as official paperwork, newspaper articles or completing simple tasks like writing a birthday card or cheque.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to improve your child’s handwriting to give them one of the many tools they’ll need in life:
- Encourage drawing and colouring from an early age as it helps your child’s fine motor skills and grip
- Tracing exercises promote fine motor skills, visual-spatial skills as well as pen control – there are heaps of exercises in kids’ magazines, colouring books, e.g. mazes, matching items etc.
- Incorporate pre-writing exercises such as tracing or doodling into messy play and let them draw shapes, lines or letters into shaving foam, sand or flour.
- Download some of UniBalls free worksheets and let your kids have fun with them at home. They show you the correct pen grip, exercises to strengthen little hands and lots of pre-writing exercises that will get your kids excited about writing.
- Practise your children’s writing skills as often as you can. Let them write postcards from your holiday, invitations to birthday parties or your weekly shopping list.
- Once your child has mastered their ‘print’ handwriting skills, you can start practising their ‘cursive; handwriting with them. Print out some cursive handwriting worksheets to help them master their new skills.
- Be patient and don’t forget to have fun.
How are you encouraging your child to write and hand on heart, how would you judge your own handwriting?