Up till now, we have looked at prewriting skills and other important elements of handwriting, and now we will look at the different steps taken to teach handwriting
Learning to write and form letters correctly is a skill that all learners need to master, and with every skill, there are different levels of accomplishment that learners need to go through in order to master letter formation. The first stage is tracing letters and this is where learners use their pencil to trace over the letter. And because there is a large amount of guidance and support the learner gets immediate feedback – they can see when they have not traced the shape correctly.
The next stage is to copy letters. After tracing letters learners move onto coping them. Copying requires greater use of recall and memory to write the letters.
The next stage is writing with cues and these are usually helping the learners with the starting point for letters.
And lastly writing without cues which is where letter formation is automatic and young learners begin to write more fluently – which we know is one of the aims of teaching handwriting.
Handwriting instruction needs to be explicit, and what that means is that it needs to be obvious, clear and exact and the only way this can happen is through strategic planning. Remember learners will not learn how to write by just being exposed to writing, they won’t just ‘catch it’.
Let’s look at some elements to consider when planning your handwriting lessons. First is feedback, and immediate feedback is ideal when it comes to handwriting. If a learner is forming a word incorrectly you want to be able to correct them as soon as possible to prevent them from cementing these bad habits. Immediate feedback is very difficult to do if you are teaching your whole class as once, it’s just physically impossible to supervise all learners at once. So an option could be to save activities that require your supervision for shared or guided writing time when learners are working in small groups.
You need to make sure you plan for explicit teaching time, and it’s also important to remember to pair the level of supervision needed with the correct method of teaching. When introducing new letters you will need to supervise and guide learners a lot so it will be easier to do this in guided writing time. Then as learners master letter formation, they require less supervision, then you can use more whole-class writing time activities and independent writing time activities.
And don’t forget about a multisensory approach!!!