Despite home computers only becoming widely available some thirty years ago, technology has advanced so rapidly that for many of us—our daily lives, our jobs, and sometimes even our social lives revolve around computers. When we spend most of our day typing on keyboards, it begs the question of whether we still need to learn to write by hand?
In fact, writing by hand is still a vital skill and one that we need to teach our children. Handwriting is extremely important for several reasons, helping children to develop multiple skill sets, and learn and retain information better. It has also been demonstrated that handwriting enables to children to express their ideas better than typing.
It has also been proven by many studies that writing by hand helps people to absorb and retain new information. One study compared the results of students who typed their notes and students who hand-wrote their notes. After 24 hours, the handwriting group could better recall their notes. As noted by Kenneth Kiewra at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, “The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing—the ability to take notes more quickly—was what undermined learning” (1). So, handwriting actually facilitates the retention of information.
In addition, learning to handwrite requires a completely different skill set to typing. Handwriting requires our brain to send messages down one side of the body to activate our hand muscles to move the pen. Whereas typing requires both sides of the body to move at the same time. It’s important for our bodies to master both of these skill sets.
Moreover, handwriting is important as it’s assessed as part of the UK curriculum. All UK exams are handwritten, and exam grades are affected if the examiner cannot read the answers. As reported by AQA’s exam board in 2016, “Very small or faint handwriting can be difficult to read and may lead to issues when examiners are awarding marks” (2).
If you want to help with your child’s handwriting, teach them how to check their own handwriting and grammar: the letter size, word spacing, use of capital letters, and punctuation. Help them check their posture when writing, and whether they are holding a pencil correctly in a tripod grip. If they’re not, then it takes just 66 days to change a habit, so in just over 2 months, you could help your child to improve their handwriting!
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Transform your child's handwriting in 7 days
Read Jacob’s story…
Jacob was 4 1/2-year-old boy who was struggling to write the letters of his name. His favourite games were cars and superheroes.
His parents were wanting advice on how to teach him to write all the letters of the alphabet. A handwriting assessment was completed by myself.
Although the priority was to teach him how to write letters Jacob could not draw a straight, curved or zigzag line between 2 lines. He needed to go back a developmental step and learn how to control the pencil.
Jacob completed a series of worksheets that required him to control the pencil between two lines. The worksheets were all themed and he particularly enjoyed the superhero’s sheets. Once he had mastered these he then was able to practice writing the alphabet. His letters were no longer difficult to read as he had greater pencil control. Jacob is now writing words about superhero’s.
Hotz R., (2016) Can handwriting make you smarter? The Wall Street Journal. 4th April.
Adams R., (2016) Exam markers complain about students blue ink scribbles. The Guardian. 22 August.