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Handwriting Foundations in Primary

School News September 29, 2021
Handwriting Foundations in Primary

Since the start of the academic year, WASCZ Primary School has placed an increased emphasis on whole class handwriting practice across Grades 1-4 and this focus has already started to have shown a positive impact on our pupils’ handwriting and writing levels throughout the school. It has been encouraging to see so many pupils engage with this program. 

For those who are new pupils to our school, or relatively new to learning English, mastering the foundation of handwriting has been critical in improving writing alphabet letters, phonetical letters and words, high frequency words and weekly spelling words, and across the school, our pupils practice these handwriting skills regularly.

The concept of Handwriting

The concept that handwriting is not merely a mechanical or motor skill that it is rather a brain-based skill that facilitates meaning-making as children externalize their cognitions through letter forms, the building blocks of written words and text. Similarly, it suggests that handwriting is not just about training the hand (motor skill); but it is about how memory and orthographic processes must work together to be able to recall the letter shapes and translate these patterns onto the page automatically. This skill is termed orthographic-motor integration and it has been shown to contribute more to handwriting than to motor skills. Thus, handwriting as a language act is an important part of writing and not just a motor act that is used to record writing.

Handwriting has been shown to be an integration of orthographic codes (letter forms), phonological codes (letter names and sounds), and graphomotor codes (written shapes) 

Handwriting Development

Typically, handwriting development begins at an early age. Between the ages of three and four, the underlying features of handwriting, begin to appear in the scribbles, wavy lines, pseudo-letters, and pictorial representations produced. By four to five years of age, letters are beginning to become part of children’s writing, although they often happen along with pictures during the kindergarten years. A child’s ability to copy geometric shapes, is seen as an indication that the child is ready to write. Dramatic changes occur in the early elementary grades with handwriting, progressing from irregular to smooth and consistent output, indicating improvement in legibility.

Importance of Handwriting

Handwriting has been traditionally taught in classrooms as part of the triumvirate of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’, but many see it as no longer relevant. But handwriting does have a place in our lives and it is a life skill that we must never stop teaching children. Handwriting matters because it empowers children and fosters effective writing development. It is a vital component of literacy.

As a functional yet complex task-handwriting,in which lower-level, perceptual-motor processes and higher-level cognitive processes interact, allowing for communication of thoughts using a written code. It is also a skill that is required for full participation in school activities since children spend up to half of their classroom time engaged in paper and pencil tasks daily. Thus, graphomotor (handwriting) difficulties have a profound impact on children’s academic success and self-esteem. Proficiency in handwriting is significantly correlated with academic achievement and is a predictor of general learning abilities.

Whole Class interventions: Whole class interventions involves the entire class being given handwriting lessons. They are also taught Alphabet letter tracing and practicing, Cursive and Print handwriting practice, phonetical letters and words, high frequency words as well as weekly spelling practice.

Extra Curricular Activities (ECA): Handwriting games have been incorporated into ECA program too. Handwriting skills and practice are enforced through the use of fun games, wordsearches, crosswords and coloring activities. These are practical activities which makes learning of handwriting fun and makes the children eager to learn and practice.