Why is handwriting an important skill?
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Oct 19, 2017
5000 years ago a scene at a gurukula
Guru to 5 year old
'Come and sit beside me. Let me hold your hand and trace the letter on this sand.'
2017 – KG classroom
Teacher to a 3 year old
'Take out your book. Write A-Z in capital. Quick, quick..'
We take writing for granted. We are in a rush to admit our children to school. We do not stop to assess if our child is ready for school. And we panic if they are not! We compete with others constantly and rub this on to our children too.
What Is Handwriting?
Handwriting is a fine motor skill like drawing, painting etc.
For a baby crying and sucking comes automatically. As it grows, it learns to smile, do tummy time, crawl and walk. Each time it does something new, there are new neural pathways created. The memory is stored.
Soon the actions become automatic. Handwriting is also a result of such stored memory and knowledge. I am sure we have never thought of handwriting to be such a complex task.
What Is The Right Age For A Child To Start Writing?
In fact it is very necessary that we understand that if a child is unable to take care of himself by the age of 5, it would be difficult for him to write. By the age of 5 a child ought to be buttoning his shirt, opening doors, holding a crayon and be able to dress/undress by themselves. Once they cross this stage of fine skills, they are ready for writing. They will begin like this.
- When children begin to learn they will write bigger and scribble
- Hence be very patient and do not force your child to begin writing too early in life
- There are many factors to be taken in before you begin to teach writing
- Girls like to try out the cursive when compared to boys. Handwriting difficulties are also experienced by boy more than girls
What Are The Pre Writing Measures You Need To Take Care Of?
Before you start teaching your child to write there are some pre-writing measures that need to be taken care of and they are mentioned below.
- Posture: The child's feet is to be placed flat on ground, keep the trunk straight,and head should not droop towards paper. Such drooping is a sign of poor vision or some other difficulty
- Tripod pencil grip: Here the pencil is held by the thumb and the index finger. The pencil rests on the middle finger. Use shorter pencils to teach beginners. The right handed child will grip closer to the tip while the left handed child will hold slightly away. The angle of the pencil tip will be to the shoulder for the right handed child and towards the elbow for the left handed
- Correct angle for keeping the paper: Keep the paper at an angle – 30 to 45* is ideal .Left handed children will have the top edge facing right and vice versa for right handed. Children think that keeping the paper or book straight is correct but it is not so
- Four-lined notebook to practice: Use a 4 lined book to practise. There are practise sheets available online too
- Letters book is a good choice: Joining the dots of letters is also a very good practise
- Breaks are important: Write for 25 minutes. Take 5 minute break. During the break make children flex fingers, stretch or move away
- Importance of proper lighting: Proper lighting should be there for reading and writing tasks. Proper lighting reduces eye strain. It is mentally stimulating and motivating. Use natural daylight whenever possible. For the right- handed, the light has to fall from the left; for the left –handed the light has to fall from the right
- Your sitting position while teaching is important: While teaching beginners, sit next to and on the right of the child if they are left handed and you are right handed. Sit on the left of your child if you are left handed and your child is right handed
What Can You Do Strengthen Your Child's Fingers?
Some of the following activities are good for strengthening fingers.
- Squeezing a soft ball
- Roll a ball of playdoh
- With one finger roll a marble
- Place palm on hand and lift one finger each
- Rotate wrist
- Scissor cutting
- String big beads
- Clench and unclench fist
- Picking up little things with thumb +index finger and put into a box
How Can You Teach Cursive Writing To Your Child?
Before you learn how to teach cursive writing to your child, let me tell you what is cursive writing and how is it important for your child to know cursive writing.
What Is Cursive Writing?
The origin of the word cursive comes from the Latin word 'currere', which means "to run." This is because, the letters all run into one another, the hand flows continuously without lifting.
A word of caution here is that handwriting has the print letter writing the cursive writing has soft or curvaceous letters that run into each other.
Important Things to Remember While Teaching Cursive Writing
- Cursive style should be learned only after learning to write print letters
- Print writing is taught with letters falling in the alphabetical order
- While teaching cursive it is beneficial to group letters that are similar in shape or direction, example the letter can be grouped with a, d, g, o
- Teaching this way, in groups, can help to reduce the confusion between letters like b and d
- In cursive writing, always begin with teaching the lower case first
You can make handwriting an enjoyable task by giving different incentives to your toddler and pre-schooler. Consistent practice of 15 minute writing time will be sufficient in the beginning and gradually increasing it to the time convenient to your child.
Did you like the blog on why is handwriting an important skill? Please share your views and feedback with us in the comments section below.
| Jan 04, 2018
Thanks , very helpful
| Nov 15, 2017
Thanks Swapna for sharing this info. It brought my confidence back on my child. I was always worried that my child cannot write.
| Oct 31, 2017
Thank you Shikha
| Oct 30, 2017
quite an informative and practical guide to help out parents deal with their child's handwriting issues. thanks Swapna Nair Ma'am for sharing this..
| Oct 28, 2017
Hi Insimah, you can use play doh and other things you get in the market. At the same time you can use the simple activities I have mentioned. Just guiding children to pour water from one tumbler to another, holding a tweezer, pinching the index and thumb are things you can do at home. Do not force writing at this stage.
| Oct 28, 2017
mam thanks fr this piece of info... i have a query my 2yr 10 months boy goes to play school, there they have started making children hold and write also colour. recently the mentor of my kid told me he is holding the pencil tight and does not show much of interest in writing while he is very interactive in the class and participates in other activities well.... now i am aware it's too early fr my boy to get the hang , i have also read abt bringing fine grip activities at home for him... bt generally how do we approach this stage by stage. in the market we have activities. like paper ball collage , play doh and painting pads are they helpful at this stage fr my boy
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