The following are answers to questions and concerns frequently expressed by people interested the best way of teaching handwriting:
1What is the difference between manuscript printing and cursive writing?
Manuscript printing is taught to beginning learners because it most closely resembles the print they encounter in books when they are learning to read. Cursive writing, also called handwriting, is taught later, usually at the end of 2nd grade or beginning 3rd grade.
2Why not skip print and teach Cursive writing only?
Research indicates that children are learning to recognize letter symbols as they write them with a paper and pencil. Repetition through practice imprints the appearance of each letter on the brain, so recognition of letters when learning to read becomes automatic. This why children who never learn to write Cursive frequently encounter problems reading Cursive writing.
3At what age should children learn to print the alphabet?
Most children are developmentally ready for the introduction of letter writing at age 5; however, some may be ready 6 months earlier and others not ready until age 6. If a child experiences frustration and little or no interest in learning to write, it is best to set this task aside for about a month and try again later. A child who continues to have difficulty or resists trying to learn may be experiencing vision issues or other learning delays that require appropriate assessment and interventions by trained professionals.
4Why is practice of tracing lines and shapes included in the Level 1 workbook?
Letters are merely combinations of lines and shapes. Tracing various lines and shapes help children become comfortable in the task of reproducing these correctly when introduced in a letter. Tracing pages also develop small muscles and enhance fine motor control.
5Why is repetition and practice necessary for learning how to make letters?
Just as practicing musical scales makes for easier facility in making music, practicing letter formation helps to make writing become automatic.
6What else should children be taught while learning to write letters?
Learning to write should be a part of a well-balanced reading program. The format of the pages in our workbooks include foundational and elements necessary for learning to read: recognizing letters in print, where to start on a page, left-to-right sweep, direction from top to bottom of a page, high-frequency words, word spacing, punctuation and sentence writing.
7What can happen if children do not learn the correct way to write letters?
When children are not taught how to write letters correctly, they resort to “drawing” what they see. They often make letters incorrectly and then struggle with writing fluently and legibly. When transitioning to Cursive writing, they often have difficulty mastering this higher level skill. Eventually they may revert back to the original letters they learned to “draw”. Unfortunately, this often results in combining some print with Cursive and develop a “script/print” style of writing for everyday use. Our writing method corrects this common writing problem. We develop handwriting skills through a continuous, sequentially developed writing series allowing students to become proficient writers.
8The emergence of keyboarding as a daily practice in education invites the question: why do children need to learn handwriting as well?
Besides the advantages already discussed, some authorities recognize the important role of handwriting in the enhancement of cognition. Deardoff (Chicago Tribune, 1, June 15, 2011) held that: “The benefits of gripping and moving a pen or pencil reaches beyond communication. Emerging research shows handwriting increases brain activity, hones fire motor skills, and can predict a child’s academic success.” As technology becomes more commonplace, it cannot and should not, replace handwriting, the most personal skill an individual has.