Handwriting Instruction

Handwriting is a much publicized issue. Rightly so, if we consider the research into the cognitive advantages of learning to write by hand rather than relying on keyboards.

I am aware of two companies that appear to be trying to implement their own methods as national standards. To mandate any single method for handwriting instruction would be a grave mistake. Perhaps the Common Core State Standards could benefit from some revision, but not by submitting to the dictates of any one company.

As a handwriting specialist with nearly 40 years experience, I boldly suggest the following simple guide.

1) Pre-writing activities should proceed, and then continue in concert with alphabet instruction. Posture and rhythm are the two critical basics for success in every motor skill, be it baseball, golf, tennis or wielding a chef’s knife. For handwriting these basics are poorly taught while the focus goes to letter and numeral shaping.

2) Beginning letters and numerals should be taught in Kindergarten, and followed through in first and second grades. The design of the characters should encourage development of legibility at age-appropriate speed. The design should exclude any need to teach another method of writing, such as print-script followed by conventional cursive.

Higher education for potential educators should not be directed by any one publisher of handwriting materials. Their bottom line is to succeed as a business that supports one method only. Educators need to understand the history of handwriting, the various handwriting methods in use today, and the means to build sound fine motor skills.

This message is brief, but I invite comments.

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