The learning and mastering of handwriting are one of the critical skills that learners acquire during their early school years. It forms part of their foundation that sets them up the rest of their schooling career.
Writing has been around for centuries as an important part of communication. It started off with simple pictures drawn on rocks which then evolved and developed into symbols and then letters that represent an idea or message. Writing symbols on rocks was a great way to store information and communicate it to others. Move along to today and technology has impacted the way that we communicate with each other – especially through writing. Despite our dependence on technology, handwriting is still a critical skill that learners need to develop.
The most profound benefit is that over the decades’ research has shown that good handwriting skills lead to stronger academic performance in reading and writing.
Why should we focus on handwriting?
- Good handwriting skills lead to stronger academic performance in reading and math. (which is essentially all subjects). Journal of childhood education and Development looked at 1000 learners when they were in Pre-school and then later in Grade 2. They found that the pre-school learners who showed good fine motor skills outperform their peers on both reading and math by Grade 2. Good fine motor skills is a result of specific handwriting instructions and practice. Knowing this, teachers cannot ignore how important fine motor skills and pre-handwriting skills are for mastering handwriting.
- Handwriting boosts memory and focus. Plain and simple, learners tend to remember more when notes are written by hand because the act of writing activates the memory centres of the brain – which are not activated when typing. Laptop note-takers tend to focus more on where specific keys are and not on what they are typing. Good handwriting helps kids to focus by engaging the child’s attention and developing their ability to focus.
- Handwriting fluency impacts the quality and quantity of learners work. When learners focus on what they want to write and not how to write…the quality and quantity of their writing will expand as it frees up thought to fully engage in what they are writing. This is where handwriting is unique, it allows for breaks and time for learners to fully engage with their thoughts, and for creativity and imagination to spring to life.
- Handwriting still forms an integral part of our education system due to the fact that the majority of our examinations are still handwritten. Writing is also a part of our daily lives.
It can’t be said enough: our learners need to write by hand!
Teachers have seen the decline in fine motor skills of the learners and the negative impact this has had on their handwriting ability. Knowing the benefits of handwriting it’s time now to take a more deliberate approach to teach handwriting, especially in the foundation phase. The research is there, our learners need to write by hand and that is why we need to focus on handwriting.