Recently I observed a half hour Kindergarten handwriting class. It was exceptional! It was all about hand and finger strengthening and finger positioning as it applies to holding a writing tool. No letters. No numbers.
1) Lacing: Thread colored yarn through plastic shapes with holes in them, a triangle, circle, heart, etc.
2) Floam: a playdoh-like material. The children were asked to make a platypus, but could make something else if they wished.
3) Cutting: Small rectangles of paper had lines on them. The object was to cut on the lines, stopping where the lines stopped.
4) Tweezers: Plastic tweezers held with thumb and index finger were used to pick up tiny plastic carrots and put them on a rabbit’s mouth, bananas for a monkey and fish for a lake.
5) Rubbing: Paper was placed on textured plastic squares and children used a short crayon to make rubbings.
6) Hole punch: Holes were punched into paper.
7: Template: A template (butterfly) was placed on top of paper for the child to color.
Each child had a pre-writing project. Some squeezed a hole punch, making a lovely mess on the floor. Some used tweezers to pick up tiny fish to put in a lake (the lake was a little landscape drawing.) There were seven different activities, so the children could do one and then move on to another. Every child was having a great time.
Afterwards one of the teachers emailed me. Her comment, “It was a joy to see the children so engaged and appropriately challenged.”
Young hands need preparation for writing. Learning 62 legible characters is a task for little hands. They try. If young hands are not sufficiently developed to hold a pencil comfortably, children will work on the shapes with tight, tense fists. Among educators and parents demand is high and correct that young children learn their abc’s, but we need to look ahead to the future of these students.
Inefficient death gripes on pencils and pens cannot yield the fluency students need in later academic years and careers. Legible writing will be slow and possibly painful. Not a problem in the age of technology? Yes, it is! It’s proven that notes taken by hand provide the best way to retain information.