Today, I wanted to continue my discussion about teaching handwriting. There are so many benefits, both for the individual and for society as a whole. Handwriting is a form of communication that can be used to express your thoughts and feelings, and it can also help you to learn how to write in a clear and concise way.
My previous post 5 reasons why teaching handwriting is skill important in this digital age helps you understand the significance of handwriting. Fitting handwriting into an already crowded curriculum can be difficult, so I am here today to present to your my 5 top tips for teaching handwriting.
Firstly, lets rewind back to the summer of 2005, I was a young, bubbling Grade 5 graduate teacher, ready to take on the world. Only to find out that this whole teaching gig was harder than I thought. Handwriting, however, was something I could teach. It required no extra planning, brain power or background knowledge. Students had a handwriting book and we did a page a week. It was easy to plan, easy to correct and check, I was teaching handwriting, my students and I were successful!
A few years later and I landed myself in a school that didn’t value handwriting the same as my previous schools – handwriting books were not purchased for the whole class and it was up to the teacher if they taught it or not. Many teachers, simply choose to do it as part of their writing sessions. But my issue with this was… when writing in their writing book, students already had to think about so much; handwriting, writing on the lines, how to spell that word, what punctuation do they need and the most important, what are they trying to say!!! This is clearly why writing is one of those areas that so many students struggle with.
So I created a handwriting resource – I needed it to be more than handwriting so made it a mix between letters and sounds practise, handwriting and sentence writing. I was covering so many bases that it was worth spending the photocopying credit each week. I made a few different versions to cater for all my students with the huge range of abilities that were in my class. Success again! What I learnt was, explicit teaching of handwriting is definitely the way to go.
My Top Tips for Teaching Handwriting
Block in a Handwriting Time into your Timetable
Set aside 20 minutes later in the week to use a routine to have to teach in so it is a relaxing, chill out time for students. During this time, you might like to play some soft music in the background and model the correct way to form each letter of the alphabet. Use a whiteboard to write the letters large so everyone can see. As you are modeling, discuss starting points, say each letter out loud and have students repeat after you. Students use their magic finger to draw the letters in the air or on the back of another student.
Teach Those Writing Basics
One of the most important things you can do when teaching handwriting, is to model the correct way to form each letter. Start with the basics, how do you hold a pencil and how to sit at a desk correctly. Students should sit with both feet on the floor (6 feet in total – 4 chair, 2 student), in a straight and comfortable position. I always have the students clean their desk before starting. All they need is a pencil so put everything else away!
Sharpen Pencils Before You Start
Always sharpen your pencil before you start – students love this part – there is something exciting about a sharp, pointy pencil that makes them do their best work.
Rove the Room and Give Positive Reinforcement
As students are working, rove the room. Put check marks above all the letters you love. Positive reinforcement always before corrections. eg. “I love the way this letter is sitting on the line, don’t forget to make sure all your letters are sitting in the correct space.” This may seem like a lot, but it is honestly a 30 second check in with each child. I can usually get around to every students at least once before anyone finishes their work. Don’t get discouraged if they make mistakes – we all do!
Give students time during the week to use their imagination and experiment with different fonts and colours. They love using textas and flair pens, so let them! Practise often and have some fun!
Handwriting is a skill that will never go out of style – it’s here to stay! Whether you are writing a letter to a friend, taking notes in class, or filling out a form, handwriting is an essential skill that everyone should know how to do.
I am making teaching handwriting easy with this great FREE resource of 10 pages of alphabet practise sheets that you can print and laminate for students to use over and over with erasable markers. Perfect for literacy groups, early finishes or an entry task at the start of the day. Using the links below, download the right handwriting style for your class.
Also included in this resource is a FREE sample of my Alphabet Handwriting pages! Enjoy!
Read more about why Teaching Handwriting in our Digital Age is still important.