Recently, I was helping a friend tutor her son. I noticed his handwriting was messy and somewhat ineligible. The letters don't sit on the line, some letters were way over the line, some were on the line, others were below the line. It makes reading his writing rather challenging. Even if his answers were correct, it was hard to tell. Messy handwriting also caused him to copy his own workings incorrectly which made his entire answers wrong. This observation reminded me that handwriting is very important, as important as academic grades.
It is very difficult to correct an older child's handwriting as the bad habits have been deeply engraved into his being. The best time to instil good writing habits would be during his pre-school years.
The best method I found was the Spalding Method. The technics used to teach a pre-schooler how to write properly is visual, making it easy for the child to understand. It also provides specific guidelines that help the children to write accurately.
Here are some of my takeaways from the method. To learn more about this method in detail, do read the book 'The writing road to reading' by Romalda Bishop Spalding.
- Use the face of the clock as a guide.
There is a specific way to write each letter. To teach this, Spalding method recommends using a clock as a guide. For instance, to write 'a' show the child that the pencil should start at '2 o'clock'. He should then go round the clock (anti-clockwise) towards '6 o'clock' and back up to '2 o'clock'. Without lifting his pencil, he should pull it down to '5 o'clock'. We can similarly teach young children how to write the other letters using the clock.
Tall letters, short letters, letters with 'tails'
Next, show your child that there are some letters that are tall and some are short. Examples of tall letters are 'b, h, f, l' and examples of short letters are 'a, c, s, r'. And there are letters with a 'tail' like 'g, y, p'. You can create games to help your child recognize and identify the different groups of letters.
Top line, middle line and bottom line.
After which, you can move on to the next stage. Learning how to write on a line. When teaching young pre-schoolers how to write, always provide them with 3 lines per row (see above picture). A top line, middle line and a bottom line. Show the child that for short letters and letters with 'tails' he must always start from the middle line whereas for tall letters, he should start from the top lines. Each time he writes a letter, the bottom end of each letter must always touch the bottom line. Exceptions go to letters with 'tails' where the ‘tails’ must be below the bottom line. The three lines are used as guidelines to help the child.
Practise, Practise, Practise!
Practise makes perfect! Practise till these technics are so deeply embedded in the child that he writes with good habits without even thinking about it.
Although this method sounds technical and maybe even time consuming to some parents. But like I have mentioned, it is worth spending some time ensuring that our children write accurately. Of course, I am well-aware some children take writing like a fish in a water. I would thus recommend this method for children who have trouble writing neatly. I have not fully exhausted the Spalding method in this post and would urge interested parent to read up more on the technic.
Lastly, always set your child up for success. Give age/skill appropriate materials to your child that will help him write well. For instance, I've seen parents giving their children a blank page without lines to practise writing. That to me, is setting the child up for failure. A paper with no lines provides insufficient guidelines on how and where he should direct his pencil, let alone writing on a straight line. Hence, always make sure you provide the proper writing materials to help your child.
Content Source: Homeschooling@sg
Edited By: Preschool Resources
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Preschool Resources.