If you missed the first part of this series where I share the many mistakes that I’ve made in my handwriting lessons, you can laugh along with me about the struggles of my journey here.
So why is a successful handwriting lesson so important? It can be tough to execute an effective lesson plan if we’re unsure of its significance and impact. Understanding the short term and long term benefits gives us the knowledge we need to follow through an successful lesson. In honor of National Handwriting Day, I thought it would be fitting to discuss the importance of a strong foundation in handwriting in those primary years.
The Benefits of Handwriting Mastery (and How Insufficient Results Will Affect Your Students)
Handwriting is the foundation of English literature. If this necessary prerequisite to writing is not mastered, learning other areas of writing such as spelling, punctuation, and composition can become more challenging for the student. That is because these milestones progressively build upon each other. Whatever type of foundation that is laid for teaching penmanship, whether it be weak or solid, it will potentially have a lasting influence.
We could ask any first grade teacher why automatic and neat handwriting is essential, but let’s summarize the immediate and long-term benefits of perfecting this skill. The act of handwriting itself instantly allows for a deeper learning experience with cognitive benefits and neurological connections that aid children with retaining new information. Excellent handwriting boosts the child’s learning experience as they complete one of their first accomplishments in literacy. This leaves them with self confidence in their writing abilities.
It takes a lot of time and energy for kids to perfect their strokes and placement. Once letter formation becomes fluent, students can use that focus and energy, previously dedicated to penmanship skills, towards encoding words and structuring sentences. Going through the next progressive lessons in literature will come much easier than if the penmanship skills had not been fully developed.
Legible handwriting supports all other subjects of education as well. As student’s handwriting becomes neat, they have the ability to complete student self-assessments. Proofreading composition and reevaluating math equations are possible for a child to do, as soon as they are able to read their own handwriting.
Children will learn later that the faster they write, the more quickly they can brainstorm ideas and allow those creative juices to flow that come exclusively from pen and paper. Earlier on, they will see how quickly writing enables them to easily form sentences and write out the letters they sound out for spelling. Fluent penmanship prevents constant pauses and distraction that break up the flow of writing and spelling.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of excellent handwriting skills, let’s go over the tell-tale signs of insufficient penmanship skills. First and foremost, poor handwriting practice leads to more than your average letter reversals. Once incorrect letter formation habits are learned, they are difficult to reverse. This also lowers the child’s self-esteem and therefore questions their ability in writing all together.
When handwriting is not fluid, students aren’t able to focus and brainstorm as well, resulting in spelling errors, lack of creative writing, and slow progress. These are all possible symptoms of unsatisfactory results. We want what is best for our students, so let’s reconsider whether our handwriting curriculum is rigorous, yet kinder-firendly enough to perform our expectations for a successful writing foundation. Here are my thoughts on what a curriculum of that nature would look like.
Have you experienced the influence of the fundamentals of handwriting (or the lack thereof)? Did you overlook the importance of those detailed milestones just as I struggled through my handwriting lesson? Share your “aha” moment as we dove into the impact that penmanship has on the continual education of our students.