This is a collaborative post.
Isn’t it amazing what an impact a seemingly insignificant moment can have on your life?
For me, it was a decision taken by a primary school teacher. When all my friends moved up into the next class after the summer, I was to go into a different class with children a year older than me.
Handwriting and self-esteem
I went into that class as a confident child with lots of friends who was doing well academically. I could read well for my age and my writing and drawing were fine. But that was the problem. As one of the youngest in my school year, I had just turned six years old. My fine motor skills were where they should be for a six year old, and I found myself in a class with seven and eight year olds.
And that wasn’t all, my new teacher was a stickler for handwriting. Nothing I did was ever good enough. The teacher criticised every letter I wrote, it wasn’t neat enough. The children criticised every picture I drew because mine were nowhere near as good as theirs. And socially, I was utterly inadequate. They were a close group who had been together since starting school, and I was an outsider.
Luckily, a new girl started in that class with me. She was the same school year as me, although she was the older end of the year so a lot more able. We became good friends and I’m not sure how I would have got through that year without her.
Getting it right
Because of my experience, I have a slightly biased view of the importance of handwriting. I know it needs to be legible but I can’t help wondering whether that should be enough. That’s why I was interested to read some facts about the importance of handwriting from uni-ball. They also share some top tips for improving handwriting in children.
I was particularly interested to read that handwriting is important as a fine motor skill as well as a standalone skill. The fine motor skills learnt from handwriting create connections within the brain. And reading through their tips got me thinking, perhaps I’m going about this the wrong way.
Instead of trying to protect my children from a similar experience by not focussing on handwriting, maybe I should be helping them to improve it. Lia has no interest in writing and at three, I think that’s fine. But Libby is a little older. She is at school and her handwriting isn’t too bad, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.
If your children could do with a little extra help, Uni-ball have some great handwriting worksheets. They range from exercises for stronger hands to basic mark making, and right through to letter formation.
I like the idea of doing this at home in a pressure-free environment. Perhaps this will make it a little easier when they get to school.
And one final thought from me. I lived in France for a year and taught English to a six year old girl. From the day she started school, she was taught joined-up writing in the classic French style. Over there, everybody writes the same way. This removes the concern about finding your own neat, fast writing style. But does it also remove the creative element that children gain from handwriting? I’d love to hear your thoughts.