But help is on hand with the fantastic website, www.teachhandwriting.co.uk. Set up by former primary school teacher Lucy and her husband Chris, Teach Handwriting offers advice, video tutorials and ideas to help improve your child’s handwriting, from absolute beginners to those who are having difficulties or would like to improve their technique. We can’t recommend this site highly enough. Here Lucy explains why being proficient at handwriting is so important:
“Research in recent years by psychologists, educationalists and neuroscientists has found that older children, with better handwriting skills showed greater neural activity in areas associated with working memory (used for planning, ideas generation and composition skills for written work).
Due to the way that our working memory functions the handwriting process can impact on the quality of the work. For instance, those who have poor handwriting ability use a disproportionate amount of their working memory capacity in recalling and forming the letters, effectively blocking the higher level composition process (Gathercole, Pickering, Knight & Stegmann 2004, cited Medwell et al. 2007).
This is because children with fluent handwriting skills have developed an automotive (instant, subconscious) ability to recall and reproduce letter patterns, making handwriting a lower level process within their working memory.
At this point it would be easy to say, if they are struggling with handwriting, get them to use a keyboard. However other neurological research (Karin James, 2012) has found that a young child’s brain is stimulated differently when they write a letter compared to when they press the same letter on a keyboard. The process of handwriting stimulates the areas of the brain related to the literacy skills such as the visual and motor memories in a way that tapping a keyboard doesn’t.
This would suggest that learning to handwrite with accuracy, fluidity, speed and legibility is a vital goal if we want our children to reach their true potential. Once handwriting has been mastered a child can focus more effectively on the composition and structure of the piece, which requires planning and logical thought processes, so that the plot or argument can be fully explored and presented.”
Visit www.teachhandwriting.co.uk for step by step guides and tutorials on everything from the basics of holding a pencil to joining the letters of the alphabet and much more.