Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Handwriting: Top 5 Handwriting Tips

It's Teacher Tuesday, and today handwriting instruction is on my mind.
I LOVE teaching handwriting! I've been teaching for 17 years. I taught 3 years in Pre-K, 13 years in Kindergarten, and I'm currently teaching 2nd grade. My love of handwriting instruction started my first year in Kindergarten. WAY back then...we had standards called QCC (Quality Core Curriculum). There was a long checklist that you basically looked over as a teacher to make sure you were teaching each item on the list. It was, as they said, "a mile wide, but not very deep." If you weren't careful, you could get caught trying to teach so many little things that you couldn't do all of them justice. At the end of the year, I was going through the checklist to make sure that I'd covered all of the things on the list. I realized that I had taught handwriting, but I hadn't really done it the justice that is deserved. I thought..."If I don't give them a firm handwriting foundation in Kindergarten, then who will?"
There are current standards under Common Core that require students to have nice handwriting, but I believe handwriting in many schools is getting pushed to the side. The current standards are stated as follows:
Kindergarten:  ELACCKL1a:  Print many upper- and lowercase letters
1st Grade: ELACC1L1a: Print all upper- and lowercase letters, ELACC1L1k Prints with appropriate spacing between words and sentences.
2nd Grade: ELACC2L1g: Creates documents with legible handwriting.
3rd Grade: ELACC3L1j: Writes legibly in cursive.
4th Grade: ELACC4L1h: Writes legibly in cursive, leaving space between letters in a word and words in a sentence.
I'm glad these handwriting standards are written for the current standards, but I would like for them to be a little more specific. Yes, students should print letters legibly, write legibly, and write in cursive legibly as these standards state. However, do you see how a teacher could be just looking for legible writing rather than actually instructing students on how to write legibly? If the teacher doesn't give students a firm handwriting foundation with direct instruction on how to form letters to make legible words and sentences, then how will the students learn?
I am lucky to teach at a school that recognizes the importance of handwriting for our students' futures. We had a handwriting committee meet to develop handwriting standards specific for our school.
Handwriting continues to be a favorite part in my classroom. This school year I am extra excited because I get to start teaching cursive. I created my own alphabet lines for my classroom using PowerPoint. We use D'nealian manuscript at our school. I have the print and cursive letters displayed, and I refer to them often.



I also remind students of these pointers during handwriting instruction. They are my Top 5 Handwriting Tips:
1. Sit up with nice posture.
2. Hold your paper with your non-writing hand: hold your pencil correctly.
3. Think about the size of each letter and where letter starts.
4. Wait for instruction on how to form each letter; do not practice letters incorrectly.
5. Practice and review letters you have learned.

Happy Handwriting!


Love and Lollipops said...

Hi there,

I've been doing lots of handwriting research and was curious whether you recommend that the child has the page straight up in front of them or slightly slanted? Seems to be different opinions on this one.

Thanks so much, Georgia

3 Sweet Teas and Me said...

Thanks for your comment; great question! I recommend that the paper be slanted. Here's why...try it yourself...1st write with the page straight and then write the the page slanted. With the paper slanted, it also gives your non-writing hand a natural spot to hold the paper for stability.

Love and Lollipops said...

Thank you so much for the feedback. Here in South Africa our children are taught to keep the page straight. The thought behind this, from what I've heard, is that it is important for them to cross the midline, but from all I've read so far, the page slanted seems better for good long term handwriting skills.