Why teach handwriting now?

Written by Anita Warwick

There is enormous pressure on schools as all children return to the classroom. Although remote learning has meant that many children have developed useful skills, such as digital ‘know-how’ and independence, there is a need to refocus on core skills. Of equal importance, attention must be paid to children’s emotional and mental well-being.

So, is teaching handwriting at this time important?

A report by Ofsted into the impact of the pandemic found that children who were hardest hit by school closures have regressed in some basic skills. Some Primary school leaders have noted that writing is an issue for some pupils, including writing at length, spelling, grammar, presentation and handwriting.

Just this month, recent research at the University of Tokyo* concluded that students who wrote with a pen and paper had a more active brain when it came to trying to remember their notes an hour later. They concluded that it was down to the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information that comes with writing on physical paper. Confidence was able to grow, and results could be seen quickly.

Starting with just 5–10 minutes a day, focusing on a short handwriting task from which children receive appropriate feedback and praise is time well spent. It provides an invaluable opportunity to build confidence as well as help eradicate any bad habits that have formed, such as:

  • a faulty pencil grip
  • incorrect letter formation
  • letter reversals and inversions
  • poor posture and positioning.

This is the perfect time to address habits that may have crept in during remote learning

Begin with assessment. Where is each child compared to where they need to be?  Teachers will need to spend time identifying missed learning to allow for focused teaching of specific areas of difficulty.

Click on the links below to access free Nelson Handwriting resources to use with your class:

For early years, a quick recap using groups of letters that are formed in a similar way, e.g. c o a d g f s q e would be helpful.

In KS1, recap each of the handwriting joins.

In KS2, small amounts of daily handwriting will quickly help children improve their presentation, as well as spelling, grammar and punctuation.

For Years 3 and 4, going over the four joins and the break letters would be a helpful activity.

For Years 5 and 6, recap the four joins again and look at slanted writing.

Try the Handwriting Assessment Record sheets for:

Teacher modelling can also help encourage and give children much needed confidence boosters – something they may have missed out on in recent months.

We know that the quality of handwriting can often be the basis on which performance judgements are made, whether we like it or not. A school with a clear handwriting policy, that focuses on a consistent approach, enables the child to progress through carefully structured stages and provides them with an opportunity to develop their own individual style gradually.

In my experience, the short, daily or twice weekly sessions were ones the children looked forward to. They were quiet, relaxed and fun – which is exactly what some children will need right now.

Anita Warwick is the author of Nelson Handwriting

*Published in the Journal Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience 2021

Your local Educational Consultant can give you more information about Nelson Handwriting, helping you to choose the best resources for your school. Click here to book an appointment.