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Handwriting - is the pen mightier than the keyboard?

June 18, 2016

Be honest.  Is your child's handwriting neat?  Or do you think, like many, that handwriting is no longer an important skill as typing produces neater work?

 

My experiences of both teaching and tutoring have been a real insight when it comes to finding out what children enjoy and what they avoid.  Given the technology available to today's child, is it really surprising to learn that some children struggle with and avoid handwriting?

 

In 2014, a study conducted by Docmail suggested that, in the workplace, one in three had not written anything by hand in the previous 6 months.  With the development of keyboard skills, we can produce text quickly and neatly, so much so that handwriting had almost disappeared in most offices and workplaces.

 

In the USA, many students now take notes using technology, and the tablet or laptop is replacing the copy and pen.  Cursive script - where handwriting is joined - has been dropped from the US core curriculum and, since 2013, American students are taught taught to type and write in print.

 

Are we making life easier for children by allowing them to type instead of learning the skill of handwriting?  Experts in writing disagree.  "Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought,” says Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva. “Children take several years to master this precise motor exercise: you need to hold the scripting tool firmly while moving it in such a way as to leave a different mark for each letter.”

 

Writing and reading are linked, so some experts argue that giving up handwriting will affect how future generations learn to read. “Drawing each letter by hand substantially improves subsequent recognition,” Gentaz explains.

 

Handwriting also plays an important role in learning to spell.  Children learn spelling through shapes of words and writing in a cursive script helps them to associate the shape of the word with the letters used to spell it.   The Dyslexia Association of Ireland discuss handwriting on their website. "A cursive handwriting style is often best as it aids spelling, neatness and fluency."

 

The British Dyslexia Association agree that handwriting can improve spelling. "Typically, when first learning to write, children ‘print’ their letters. They then move on to ‘joined up’ writing at a later stage. For children with dyslexia, learning two styles of handwriting can add an extra layer of difficulty and cause confusion. It is, therefore, much more helpful if a young child can learn to use a single system of handwriting right from the start."

 

Handwriting is, and will always be, a very important skill in the learning process, very much linked to the development of both reading and spellling.  At Emerald Education Centre, we can take time and help your child to concentrate on mastering this skill.  Just ask for more information!

 

 

 

 

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