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Improving handwriting

Discussion in 'Primary' started by angiebabe, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. angiebabe

    angiebabe Senior commenter

    What do you think is the most successful way of improving a child's handwriting? Is it purely a case of practice and ensuring correct posture etc or has anyone any surefire special techniques?
  2. Small steps. Model each letter on the page where the child is also going to write. Talk through the directionality and the reasoning behind it. Practise with a sensible handwriting size - not too big - just realistic. Little and often.
    If you are talking about joined handwriting - start with leaders drawn as diagonal lines to 'half height' (of tall letters), teach two joins - the diagonal line and the 'washing line' join and draw these in two separate boxes 'half size' between the writing lines. Don't just model but describe which bits are the letters and which bits are the joins - and how the letter 'o' leads to washing line joins as do some other letters.
    Practise writing discrete letter shapes with finger spaces - not long strings of letters joined together.
    Once the discrete letters are known to automaticity and fluency, then join simple words and practise those and then provide print to be copied in the joined handwriting style.
    When ample practice has been provided, then insist on writing being in joined writing - not just when the 'practice' takes place.
  3. angiebabe

    angiebabe Senior commenter

    Ah debbiehep thank you so much for a really good explanation but I obviously did not make myself clear. I am talking about a child that has been writing cursively for quite some time but who is still very untidy and irregular and is actually worried about his handwriting being the cause of his lack of progress in Literacy.
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm with Debbie you need to establish the correct sequence of movements to form the letter so that when the child writes it is automatic.
    We start in reception repeating out loud the movements (and each class uses the same words)
    so to write a letter "s" we would say woosh round and round the other way (if starting from the line - miss the woosh if not) to write the word "cat" - woosh round up round up down flick up down flick and across
    but it is practise practise practise
  5. Gratzia

    Gratzia New commenter

    What age group do you teach?
    I am Year 5/6 and every year the children that come into my class have atrocious handwriting!
    Every year this is an issue that is going to be addressed, but never is.
    I would like to know how you develop children's handwriting when they are already set in their ways!
    Any ideas?

  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It can take 3 terms to undo bad habits that's why it needs to be a whole school policy.
  7. angiebabe

    angiebabe Senior commenter

    I'm with you Gratzia - the pupil in question is Year 5 and already set in his ways. Although I am an experienced teacher I am willing to listen to ideas for improving the situation and wondered if anyone has any success they would like to share.
  8. It doesn't need to take three terms - I am really good at improving children's handwriting almost instantly and a term should have a whole class totally transformed.
    First of all, you need to allocate a protracted period to get the transformation started. For example, allocate a whole morning just for handwriting.
    Start as if starting from the beginning and tell the children that their handwriting will be transformed and it is non-negotiable for those who think their handwriting is OK. You can tell any objectors to regard the lessons as 'art' then, an exercise in patterns and shape!
    Use writing lines which are not too far apart.
    Talk about the joins as above. Talk through the letter shapes using the terminology 'diagonal to half height'.
    Make sure the leader starts absolutely not on the line - and that you don't get a ski slope where the line goes down before it goes up. Model a ski slope and joke about it to show what not to do.
    Treat the diagonal lines almost as a geometric exercise - you want a straight line - which will become softer with fluency - but at the moment you want the diagonal line to act as a 'spacer' between each letter.
    Early on, you need to write the letters on each pupil's exercise book and then tell them that you want there to be no discernible difference between your letters and theirs.
    By the way, look to the standard of your own handwriting when writing on the board and writing in books (marking). Raise your game and ensure it is the school style.
    Loops for 'y', 'g' and 'j' are 'straight down through the line, thin loop' - all letters are joined.
    Establish fluency and automaticity for each letter - often children have some letters that they really don't know how to form properly.
    Practise whole sentences etc. by converting print (e.g. a favourite poem) before expecting great handwriting in free writing.
    Once you convert to free joined writing, have very high standards as a norm but encourage a 'line through' for crossing out and arrows for additional letters. In other words, encourage plenty of editing but still insist that writing is really good.
    I am going to make a video clip of how I teach handwriting. I have transformed class after class.
    It is also important that the whole school does get on board. I RARELY see good teachers' handwriting for marking - even for infants.

  9. http://www.rrf.org.uk/newsletter.php?n_ID=45
    At the beginning of this piece, I refer to copywriting as if it's not a good thing to do which is not my position. I think there is a real place for copywriting which I won't go into here - but suffice it to say that I didn't want the article to mislead and make me seem anti copywriting. I really posted this to show the letter shapes.
  10. I have an idea! So interesting to read this thread. I used to teach and have moved our of teaching to codevelop a game that supports cursive handwriting development. I've got an interview up on my blog with some boys who used our intervention programme Letter Layers. The boys are in Year 6 and were finding that their lack of fluency was stopping them from completing their handwriting tasks. The product is primarily developed with foundation and KS1 children in mind but the boys were delighted to find a fun product that helped them to independently develop their skills. Actually the clip might work as inspiration for your pupils who are struggling! The blog also has free handwriting activtities for families and teachers. Pleased to give more advice - we have a literacy AST on the team who does plently of handwriting outreach work behind her. Blog is here www.letterlayers.blogspot.com and please feel free to email for more info letterlayers@ymail.com
  11. I have taught Year 3 for three years now and have found their handwriting is getting worse as the years go by.
    I have started using ideas from "Speed up - A kinaesthetic programme to develop fluent handwriting" by Lois Addy. It involves an 8 week programme with children working on handwriting once a week during this week for an hour, as well as regular practise. It focuses on bringing the children back to basics. I use it for the whole class and split the programme up so that it fits into my daily handwriting lessons.
    It is having a really good effect. I would definitely recommend it.
  12. Hi,
    What about when starting out with children? I have Year 1 and there are a range of sizes and neatness and correct/incorrect formations within the class. Our school don't have books with lines wide enough apart for the year 1s so I'm making some handwriting books but I'm wondering which children to start on the really big handwriting paper and which on the slightly smaller paper. If they are already writing small but not forming letters correctly do I give them big paper anyway as children learn formation better when writing bigger? Because some struggle writing big enough to fit it in between the lines neatly. Thanks for any help.
  13. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    The generally poor handwriting at my son's school was transformed when the school adopted a style and insisted that all teachers stuck to it. Until then every teacher had tried to teach handwriting a different way. There was a huge push in the school to improve writing, everyone did it, all the children knew it was happening. Everyone was pulling together.
    After a couple of years of real effort this has sadly gone by the wayside and writing is as bad as ever. Even some children who were writing really well have slipped because it's no longer being insisted on. It clearly has to be consistent in approach and expectation right through primary school for there to be any hope of establishing good handwriting, at least in some children.
    My son was one of the lucky ones who was just learning to write when the whole school thing was introduced. He had two good years of consistent and thorough teaching and now, even several years later, has managed to maintain it and has far and away the best handwriting of anyone in our family of six (of which he is far and away the youngest!). I was so pleased when the style was introduced and stuck to and very sad when it was allowed to slide. I suppose it's a lot of effort but isn't that what primary school is for?
  14. Can I just add from a supply viewpoint - please please please if you've got a school handwriting style, can you just stick it on the wall near the board somewhere? I keep getting left handwriting as part of cover days and it's always a nightmare trying to flick through kids' exercise books to work out what exact style each school does (looped ks, looped or unlooped ys, joining to/not joining to different letters)! I generally try to work with what each school uses as best I can (my board writing will never be the greatest - but I admit to the kids it's as a result of the primary school me being an arkward little nowt refusing to join up when the teacher nagged them to and becoming a habit after so many years) but if I don't get to see a copy - I can't sing from the same hymnsheet!
  15. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Another supply here who's asking for your preferred handwriting style to be clearly displayed. I tend to print when writing on the board as often I'm unsure of the style, but this isn't exactly good modelling is it!

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