A wonderful milestone in a child’s life is when they learn to write. So how do we teach handwriting with the most effective teaching style? Well, there are several different ways to teach writing. From traditional worksheets, drawing dotted lines, writing in the sand, or using chalkboards. These are all different methods you can use when teaching your students how to write. There is no one ‘right’ method as all students tend to learn and find motivation in different areas; therefore, whatever method you choose to teach with you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure a productive learning experience for your students.
Things to remember:
Teach in a small group
When teaching handwriting its essential to teach in smaller groups to ensure you can easily observe all of the students while they are writing. This is because its essential to be able to provide feedback quickly when a student starts to make a mistake.
When teaching in a larger class this task will become impossible and it’s more than likely that your students will be writing without supervision. This has a serious negative impact and can drastically slow down your student’s progression. For example: If you are drilling your students on certain letters and they manage to incorrectly write the letter, they will consistently write this letter wrong multiple times, which will develop bad habits and more than likely take a lengthy amount of time to change.
Providing feedback once the work has being completed is certainly not an ideal approach and should be avoided. A huge element of learning to write is repetition and you should ensure that your students are on track at all times for the best results.
Focus on lowercase letters
In general uppercase letters are harder to form and require a little bit more skill and co-ordination. Capital letters usually require 2 to 3 strokes with multiple pencil lifts and a greater degree of visual focus to achieve. A classic example of this is the uppercase E. The uppercase E requires 4 individual strokes to form whilst its lower case counterpart only requires one continuous stroke.
I’ve seen examples where students have been taught by their parents to write in capital letters first before lowercase i found that their writing is usually very difficult to read and considering capital letters compose only around 5-10% of natural sentence structures it only makes sense to focus on lowercase first. Its important to not overwhelm your students by teaching them both upper and lower-case simultaneously let them focus only mastering lower-case letters then progress later in capitalization.
Group letters by stroke technique
An important thing we need to consider when thinking about how to teach hand writing is grouping letters together by strokes. This is a proven technique to increase efficiency and understanding when learning to handwrite. These groups are split generally into 5 different categories:
- i j k l t – All of these letters start with a top-down approach
- c a d o g q – All of these letters start the same as writing a C
- v w x y – All of these letters start with a downward diagonal line
- s u f e z – These letters do not share a common stroke
- h p b m n r – All these letters originally drop down then bounce over
As you can see the techniques in each group require the same stroke pattern, you can make this fun for your class by assigning a name to each group representing the style of stroke. A website called AppyTherapy have a great system in place for this and i highly recommend you check it out.
Children tend to generally have an attention span of roughly 15-20 minutes according to recent surveys. During the early years when children learn to handwrite, you should go slow to ensure you don’t overload and offer lots of breaks to avoid loss of concentration. As a general rule, we recommend not to extend writing practice past 20 minutes.
Start by instructing your student to write very large letters on empty sheets. When they understand the concept and show improvement in mechanical skill they will naturally progress to write smaller at that point you can move to smaller sheets of lined paper.
Sometimes we shouldn’t just think about how to teach handwriting, we should also think about how to encourage the best possible mental state for our students.
Always remember to encourage your students with positive reinforcements. Praising your student’s effort will give incentives to practice their handwriting and accelerate progression.
Encouragement when handwriting is very important. All students love to receive encouragement and positive thanks from their teachers, so enjoy every little win and achievement they get along the way.
The development of excellent handwriting skills in a student is necessary when learning to write. If you find it difficult for your students to learn writing by conventional means, it may be best to focus on tuning your teaching skills first using some of the following strategic approaches
- Visual strategies – For example, the letter will represent an entertaining picture.
- Kinesthetic strategies – Instructing your students to write the letter in the air with their fingers can be an excellent and fun approach. You can also combine this with technology such as tablets in which there are many apps where you follow along with entertaining animations where you trace in sync with the video.
- Auditory reinforcement – Simply pick a sentence that heavily repeats the targeted letter. Ensure your student interacts to some degree every time they hear this sound either by writing or showing, for example, displaying a flashcard.
Some other fun activities include;
- Finger painting,
- Drawing with chalk or coloring with crayons and markers.
- Creating letters with components such as rice or sand.
Experiment with different methods and try to include an element of fun for the students. Visual, Kinesthetic, and Auditory methods are all great ways to reinforce learning with your students but also the true secret to success is very simple. Repetition. In many cultures, repetition is the predominant method of teaching handwriting, and it’s easy to see why. The problem however is… its boring let’s be honest. As an Adult learning Chinese I found that repetition with a mix of imagination was truly the best method for remembering how to write characters all be it excruciatingly boring. If you can find a mix of entertainment and repetition you are truly onto a winner.
Finally, let’s not forget like with all things patience is essential to remember when trying to help your students to develop writing skills. Writing at a young age is no easy feat.
I hope you liked this article on how to teach handwriting and if want to check out more of our content please visit our article page! You can also check out many different teaching resources online such as Handwriting Heroes.