HANDWRITING INSTRUCTION GUIDELINES
WALLINGFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Concerns and Observations:
• Instruction in handwriting in our district is inconsistent from class to class, grade to
grade, and school to school.
• Teachers want to know strategies for teaching handwriting.
• We are not spending enough time in the lower grades working on fine motor skill
• It is difficult to change students once they have repeatedly practiced improper letter
• Students will be better able to focus on composition if they have developed a
comfortable pencil grip and are able to write legibly without thinking about it.
• Kinesthetic exercise is important for younger children.
• Direct instruction to a class is favored over small group instruction.
• Repeated direct instruction in handwriting improves automaticity.
• Writing speed impacts the written communication process.
• Perception of illegibility impacts subjective scoring on writing prompts.
• There is no evidence that the slanted (D’Neilian) method of learning manuscript letter
formation improves cursive writing.
• There is some evidence that the slanted (D’Neilian) method is more difficult to learn.
The new Zaner-Bloser manuscript method uses only four strokes, whereas the
D’Neilian uses twelve strokes.
• Adopt the new, simplified Zaner-Bloser program as the standard reference for
handwriting instruction in grades K-3. All teachers in these grades should have a
teacher edition and support material.
• Make the transition to cursive in the fall of third grade so that students have more
time to practice what they have learned before summer.
• Use paper in kindergarten that has no lines or that has a single line as a baseline. In
grades one through 5, use the following line width: Grade 1 – 5/8” ruling with
broken midline and space between lines; Grades 2 and 3 – ½” ruling with broken
midline and space between lines; and grades 4 and 5 – 3/8” ruling.
• Provide information for teachers in grades 4 and 5 about pencil grip, position of paper
and body, modifications for left-handed writers, and maintenance of skills.
• Provide handouts for parents at kindergarten registration about how to teach your
child to hold a pencil or crayon and how to form the letters.
• Work collaboratively with kindergarten teachers and occupational therapists to
establish a timeline for when to introduce skills so that developmental concerns are
• Provide inservice training for preschool and kindergarten teachers about the
development of fine motor skills, kinesthetic training, and handwriting development.
Approved by the Curriculum Council April 17, 2000