Thursday, 13 December 2012

Encouraging Handwriting

The meaning of handwriting is; the writing done with the hand and while it may not be apparent to many, it does somehow represent a person's characteristics. Some experts may also be able to tell the hidden meaning behind different handwritings. A handwritten piece may also be able to tell the nature or the sincerity of the person at the point that piece was written. It can also portray the energy and the confidence of the writer him/herself. Whatever the fascinating discoveries may be with regards to one's handwriting, it is without doubt something that one carries with oneself... a signature of one's own.
Handwriting skills while not seemingly emphasized during elementary stage of schooling, is nevertheless introduced to ensure that children can slowly develop that skill which is equally if not more important than reading itself. A skill will work its best when introduction is at at early stage, in this case when preschoolers are also just learning to recite and recognize letters.. numbers, (etc) and also learning to make sense of the written form. Writing skills are not just used in schools but even at work for those drafts, note writing, messages (etc). While keyboard skills are as important these days, handwriting are as important as well.
Handwriting is important for :-
> it helps with co-ordination.
> it enhances motor skills
> it develops visual perception & concentration
> it helps to have legible handwriting for school work & later on when the child joins the work force
Here's how i started handwriting practices with my girls and students.
> I started with dots/dot-to-dot first as tracing with dots are much easier as they are close to one another almost showing what the print is really. I purchased an EPH writing a to z book and got them to do one page a week, unless if willingly asked to do more. They were about 3 years old. There are also pre-set themes of writing sheets you can easily download from here.
> I followed up with dash lines. Lines are slightly further apart from dots and creates a one-up challenge from dots.
> Then, i continued by giving the girls a more relaxed approach to practising writing their letters and numbers with hollow letter/number shapes. They can trace over the letter shapes as many times as they want using any colours they have, hence creating an almost rainbow letter when written repeatedly. At this stage, they're more confident and usually try to stay within the lines.
> Finally, i purchase the 3-liner exercise books to now introduce writing on fixed lines... ensuring each print are of the same size, unless when it comes to upper case alphabets... drawing a margin... etc
> Eventually now that they're steady with normal handwriting, as they grow older they will develop speed for writing as writing now comes smoothly and confidently. The flair for writing will eventually lead them to the cursive phase of handwriting.. aah.. for this i give freedom of space. They can each develop their own writing style from hereon. :)
Here i share a webbie that best describes the work i have done with my girls. The webbie even allows for parents and educators to print children's names for practice. How cool! No need for you to set font size and make one from scratch! Just type in what you want the children to practice on and print. It even allows you to select if you want it printed horizontally for longer names or words.
Want to move on to paragraph-styled writing practices? No sweat. Here's another webbie that supports that.
I love the seasonal writing templates in this next website for it further upgrades the child to work on their own short stories. They have one themed for Halloween or for a personal scary story or a haunted house and more!

There can also write about their Easter celebration and their Christmas party last year on other seasonal templates available on the website. Nice, i say... ;)
Or if you need just a story paper frame for free-writing.. introducing number concepts or early science intro to animals and soo much more... they have it too!
Here's one done by an previous student of mine; Val..
It was a free topic for all of them that day and she wanted to write about her mystery.. very creative. Her work was done on a similar story-paper-frame template like the one above.
My students and I also play with words like these.. These activities while they do not promote neat writing, per se it still encourages writing. It develops creativity and offers fun spelling help / revision too. It breaks away from monotonous writing practices.

For the slightly older kids, other ways to encourage them to write are by requesting they write to their grandparents once in awhile. Share with them how it adds a personal touch and how grandma and grandpa would be so nicely surprised by their gesture. Indulge them in a scrapbooking project over the holidays and it could be about the recent family trip they've gone to. Stick pictures and ask them to write suitable captions below each of them. This way memories won't just be on that moving screen monitor. :P How about casually asking them to help write a list of things you  need to get from the stores or take down phone messages for you when you're not around. I love those memo pads that's printed... "When you were not around... so and so called... "  and "the message is...." Let the fingers do the talking for you. In this case your children are your mini secretaries. Hehehe..
My girls write journals.. tho on and off these days due to killer homework... like these ones. :-)
Taken from DD2's diary from Nursery days. ;-)

Taken from DD1's diary from P1 days. ;-)
There are a couple more excerpts taken from their journals in this thread below too, if you're keen to encourage your children on writing a diary.
And we also write notes to one another too..
Here's a quickie DD1 wrote one time, before she went to school. A post it note on our fridge.. 
Encourage writing when you can.. children can learn to appreciate the effort and the idea that their handwriting can depict them as a person.

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