Help with Handwriting
An article written by LeftHand NZ for SPELD magazine in 2008. Please visit http://www.lefthandnz.com for up to date information and resources to assist teachers and parents who have left-handed children.
Shared by: interested23
In the latest NZ SPELD Record - page 6 Help with handwriting By Nikki Soames Despite the advent of computers, begin in a relaxed way with the rhyth- later on in life. But the major drawback handwriting is still the primary tool of mic patterns that underpin handwrit- is that it is very slow! The writer thinks communication. Some would say that ing. This approach avoids muscular much faster than he/she can write fre- handwriting is a critical life skill! It is tensions stemming from anxiety and quently resulting in sentences with the means by which we express and results in the child developing a per- words missing or words mis-spelt and present our thoughts, opinions and sonal style that is legible, fluent and with the writer repeatedly losing their ideas, but it is also the means by which fast so that they can write quickly train of thought. Another distressing we are judged! enough to get down what they want to disadvantage of the “hook” style is that say while it is still in their head. the writing hand moves over the freshly Poor handwriting is a very real disad- written work, resulting in smudging and vantage. Someone who is unable to Last year LeftHand N.Z. introduced a thus untidy bookwork! write legibly is often judged as having step-by-step learning programme for The progressive effect is that a left- limited intellectual ability. At school parents and teachers to teach hand- handed child can: and in life generally, written work can writing skills to LEFT-handed children. * fall behind in their schoolwork be- be assessed according to its appear- This begins with the rhythmic patterns cause they write too slowly) ance rather than its content. Handwrit- and once these are mastered the child * loose self esteem (because they are ing can even make the difference be- moves on to trace and form the letters continually growled at by teachers for tween passing and failing examinations of the alphabet that relate to each pat- producing smudged/untidy work and and being successful in job applica- tern. Through short, frequent practice for taking longer than others to copy tions! sessions the child progresses to the things down from the board.) stage where they are able to form each * find writing uncomfortable and physi- Proper guidance must be given at an letter of the alphabet on their own. cally tiring (muscle fatigue of the con- early age if children are to learn to Starting with these rhythmic patterns torted shoulder, arm and wrist) write well. The correct pencil grip, pos- also solves a problem many SPELD * grow to dislike anything that involves ture and letter formations need to be students have with ‘left to right direc- writing because it has come to be an taught well right from the start and in- tion’ and letter reversals. unpleasant experience. Over time writ- ternalized by regular practice. This is ing has become associated with a how good habits become ‘automatic’ Our handwriting workbooks have lami- whole raft of negative outcomes. and progress into a fluent, comfortable, nated ‘write-on wipe-off’ (abbreviated flowing style of handwriting. The to WOWO) worksheets because learn- If there are also other issues such as movement patterning from habitually ing how to write is all about practice dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD etc – sitting incorrectly and forming letters and this way parents and teachers al- then being left-handed as well can incorrectly is much harder to fix once it ways have available the worksheet seem overwhelming for both the child has become ingrained over many required without having to photocopy and the parents! years. The good news, is that although more for each handwriting session. it is quite a challenge, bad habits can Our WOWO workbook is written by a Step-by-step help to teach the left- be put right at any age if the writer is left-handed NZ registered teacher and hander how to write fast and well as a determined to practice better methods it includes LEFT-handed letter left-hander is here at last! Following consistently. formations. our learning programme for just 10 minutes every day will lead to the de- Parents and teachers (especially of Many teachers do not know and there- velopment of legible, fluent and fast very young children) need to know the fore do not teach left-handed children handwriting in a comfortable and flow- correct approach, what to teach, how the subtle differences in letter forma- ing left-handed style. to teach it, what problems to look out tions that allow the left-handed child to for and how to guide their child prop- develop faster handwriting, nor do Feedback received from a SPELD erly. It is important to emphasise that many of them know how a left-handed teacher using the programme: learning to write is not an overnight writer should position their paper, their “Nikki, this resource is awesome! process and this is even more applica- wrist and forearm to be able to write in As a right hander, I was pretty igno- ble when teaching a child with special a fluent, comfortable left-handed rant of the challenges faced by left- needs or who learns differently. style. Thankfully it is now almost uni- handers. The instructions and tips versally accepted in our schools that included in the front of your book The formation of letters needs to be- left-handed children should not be are truly eye-opening.” come both legible and fast – it needs to forced to write with their right hand. be practiced so often that it becomes But this has resulted in a sort of “hands In fact, this programme has been so ‘automatic’ – so that the writer no off” approach to left-handed children successful that we’ve been urged to longer has to think about how to form they are not being taught how to write create a similar handwriting workbook letters and words. Practice increases unless they are fortunate enough to for right-handers! These will be avail- the accuracy of fine motor control and have a left-handed teacher in their able soon. You will find a lot more in- as this increases, it opens up a whole formative years. formation for parents and teachers of new world - the writer is now free to left-handed children on our website focus on the content – that is to write Consequently, the left-handed child is including more details about the con- their thoughts and ideas, to write what left to figure out handwriting on their tent of our WOWO Workbook, sample they want to write about without being own. They try to copy what their right- pages and the different formats cur- distracted by having to remember how handed peers are doing and often the rently available. There is a whole sec- to write each letter of each word as awkward “hook” writing style and varia- tion covering “Teaching Resources” for they go along! tions of it, is the result. This style of left-handed children and you can even left-handed writing is clumsy and un- order online! Research has shown that it is best for comfortable, leading quickly to muscle both right-handers and left-handers to fatigue and even arthritis in the wrist www.lefthandnz.com