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Discussion in 'Primary' started by TEA2111, Oct 23, 2015.
Anyone else find that a large percentage of KS2 children have bad or struggle with handwriting?
Yes, we have just introduced a new handwriting policy.
My school has used cursive from Reception upwards for just over a year. Much of my Year 1 writing last year looked exceptionally beautiful!
Cursive also greatly helps reversal and gives "flow and feel" to writing which helps a lot.
We use cursive from reception also leads to very good handwriting. We have to keep on top of it because children still decide to do their own thing in the juniors. Yes they have to have their own style but some writing gets too small or some start to print.
My experience has been that children who are taught cursive first (i.e. not learning print) , are often the children with handwriting issues. I am convinced that children should first learn to print for a couple of years before being introduced to cursive. I know the pro arguments for cursive (i.e. stops reversals, easier as all letters have the same starting position, not as difficult as print,etc, and although I have done a lot of reading about the benefits of learning cursive first, from personal experience I am not convinced). However, these children still don't have a good 'feel' for the anti-clockwise letters, and so often are not forming them properly. Children also need to know how to print as we all need to print in our lives at some point, and it is the font that they learn to read in, so less confusing.Here is an article that presents both arguments together:
What about the position of the fingers/thumb when holding the pencil/pen? I often see some very strange configurations !
Absolutely! it is scary that every year at least 70% of my children don't have a correct pencil grip. And to try and change that in Year 4!!
Tea, I totally agree with you. How are the children expected to write in a cursive style if they haven't mastered letter formation properly. I try ti discourage my (Y2) children from joining their handwriting until I'm confident that they can form letters properly.
We introduce cursive writing in reception. It is a nightmare and I think really put children with poor fine motor skills off writing despite doing loads of finger gym work to support it. I think print until at least end of year 1. By the end of the year most of the writing was okayish but for little ones it is a step too far. As a school our handwritng is the pits anyway so it obviously isn't helping.
delma and Lizzyr123, so pleased that I'm not alone in thinking like this. Thank you.
Y5 here and I have about 10 kids with handwriting issues, ranging from poor pencil grip to letter formation. In our school the policy is that they must use pencil (even up to Y6) until they are joining and writing neatly - then they are 'awarded' a 'pen licence.' The school was pulled up by Ofsted last year over handwriting and so now we do 10 minutes practice daily.
In my last school, where I was in Y6, children had to write using pen. What're everyone's experiences/opinions on pen or pencil in UKS2?
Pen for special pieces of work in KS1.
Pen for all work in KS2.
I'm not actually fussed whether children print or join in FS, so long as what they do in correctly formed. They don't need to write sentences or even words, but just get them to form their letters correctly, in any style. Then year 1 can focus on smaller letters, the correct size, sitting neatly on the line. Joining can then start in year 2 if not done from the start.
I think quality of handwriting is something that has really suffered in recent years. My lower ability year six pupils struggle with correctly sizing their letters, let alone joining. Of course, this makes it difficult to tell if they are able to use capital letters correctly.
I hate to see children writing in pen and then crossing out all over the place. It looks messy and I think it is hard for a child to take pride in a piece of work that is already aesthetically 'messed up' by a small error. My personal opinion is that pens should be awarded to children who write clearly and legibly (although not necessarily in a prescribed style). It is an incentive to write neatly and a responsibility as pen cannot be erased. My own two children were very well motivated to earn their Pen Licences in lower KS2.
Many schools are reluctant to give much time over to handwriting practice and I think this is a shame. A few minutes a couple of times a week can make a huge difference to the presentation of the children's work. I know that most adults now use computers in their working lives, but that is not to say we should disregard the importance of teaching children to write legibly.
Perhaps I am old fashioned....
We were told at a local Year 6 SATs briefing, that if a child has poor handwriting, they can't be any higher than ARE. i.e. they cannot achieve mastery/greater depth if their handwriting is really poor (even if they're an amazing writer with fantastic language, sentence construction etc).
Thank you for that gnomie_p.
In the Victorian era handwriting really mattered. We live in an age when typing is the main form of writing used by adults. Given how crowded the curriculum is and how far the bar has been raised regarding the content of writing, I don't see why it really matters that handwriting is perfect as long as it is legible and reasonably presentable.It's ridiculous that handwriting could stop you achieving mastery in writing. So if Tolkein had scrawly handwriting he would not be considered to have mastered writing? Twaddle!
These are my opinions as a teacher (not primary) and a primary parent.
I don't understand why some schools (ours included) have this policy of a pen licence and having to write using a skinny pencil until the teacher considers they are writing neatly enough - and then letting them use a pen which has not ergonomic considerations either. It seems senseless to me. Our school goes one step worse and at the start of each school year the pen licences are revoked until children are considered to have earned a pen again.
My child has neat handwriting but developed issues with grip, tension, hand pain and slowness from early year 1 onwards. It never "rated" with school because the writing was neat so it has been up to me to try and sort it over the years with varying degrees of success. It is still an issue in year 5 but better than it was at its worst.
I hired a private OT who showed me lots of work to develop fine motor skills, arches of the hands etc etc - but all very difficult once your child is full time at school and under the school rules of what they should be writing with in class. OT also highlighted some underlying physical and postural issues and some recommendations to address them. Again difficult with no cooperation from school. A lot of it was just very obvious stuff that would have happened in suitable foundation stage activities but did not and that parents don't know much about these days either.
Tried all those different pencil grips - none really helped that much and it was a problem for the child to use them consistently in school (changing places, sharing pencils from communal pots, being the odd one out et etc), also impossible to get school to assist in a psychologically appropriate way to my child using a writing slope and wedge cushion at school (despite me having paid for them) so poor habits were never really tackled from the outset.
An ordinary pencil was the worst thing for her grip. Best was a chunkier pencil with several flat sides (triangular, maybe pentagonal, can't remember) but again problems as not the same as the other children and no appropriate sharpener at school. A Lami Safari cartridge pen worked very well ------- but it would take about 1 term each year to be allowed to use it again. Such a pantomime all round and no understanding from school - total emphasis on neatness and none of the emphasis on the stages leading up to that. In some ways the problem was neatness before she was ready to be neat - so other bad habits set in to gain control of the pencil point in a way which is not setting up good habits for a life of fluid and and easy writing.
Primary teachers do not seem to have the background in any of this - why should they? Pretty sure it's not in the training
So I don't know what to suggest other than if you get a parent who does want to do something about it, please could you cooperate with them!
I hear and feel your frustrations mystery10. I teach Year 4 and am exasperated to know how to sort out the handwriting issues I have in my class. I had good training on how to teach ks1 children to write when I taught in another country, and so can identify that the problematic handwriting is because of a lack of proper instruction. I cringe when I hear a teacher telling a child to go and practice their handwriting independently and then seeing the child practice the incorrect formation which in not been corrected, therefore reinforcing the incorrect formation. So I am with you in "Primary teachers do not seem to have the background in any of this - why should they? Pretty sure it's not in the training", although me thinks there is a lack of training. When I started teaching in the UK 10 years ago, I was appalled at the weak handwriting and lack of the correct pencil grip here. I haven't seen much improvement since. I am very grateful that I was taught how to teach handwriting.
I hear you as well mystery10. My current school also subscribes to the 'well I know you had a pen licence last year with Mrs X but you have to prove it all over again this year with me' approach and I hate it.
Teaching handwriting was new to me when I joined but we do teach posture and grip, correct letter formation and joins etc so that's something, although I nearly had a heart attack when, somewhat bizarrely one colleague suggested that in order to be able to successfully show differentiation in our teaching of handwriting we could consider having a group of children sitting on the carpet practising with whiteboards and pens......
I had a local county adviser in my class just before half-term. She picked up that ALL my children held their pencils incorrectly. As a new teacher to the school, it's not my fault, but my difficult task to rectify. I did a little search and found a 'pencil hold rap'. If you google that, the image will come up. The kids really like it and some have changed their grip already. For others, it will be more of a slog, but you gotta do what you gotta do! Hope it helps!