Cursive writing, also referred to as printing, has been around since the early 1500s. It was originally designed to help poor, untrained children who could not read write. As a result of this, it was not considered a ‘proper’ skill set for children and, therefore, was generally taught to only the most privileged of students. These days, however, it has found its way back into schools as an optional subject, particularly in the UK as a result of the ‘Sole Learning’ program, whereby children are encouraged to work on reading and writing independently. Many schools now offer a creative writing course that involves the children, in some way, learning to write by hand. The benefits of teaching children to write by hand are numerous, not least because it encourages them to become more comfortable with their hands and, therefore, develop their dexterity. Additionally, children who are taught to write by hand benefit from an improved visual memory, increased focus, and, most importantly, become more comfortable with failure. As a result of this, they become less likely to be discouraged by trials and tribulations, which is essential if we want them to learn and progress in today’s world.
Why Should We Be Rewriting History?
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are now offering their students distance learning platforms built on the premise that learning should not stop because of toilet breaks, illnesses, or lockdowns. Additionally, having a pen in the hand can help children to calm down and focus, especially during those times when so much is happening and emotions are running high. Children, particularly young ones, have also found that handwriting allows them to process information more efficiently, which, in turn, makes them better students and, hopefully, better citizens too.
It’s About Time They Learned
For those who are already skilled in cursive writing, teaching children to write by hand can be challenging. For those who are less experienced, it can be a major obstacle. To that end, many schools will only gradually incorporate the skill (hopefully, before the age of 10) and, therefore, ensure that each stage is carefully monitored, observed, and, hopefully, mastered. In light of this, it is always important to bear in mind that each stage of development is different and, therefore, requires different teaching methods, materials, and assessments. This way, the overall process will be smoother and, ultimately, more successful. Besides, if you are fortunate enough to have a skilled teacher assigned to help you with your child’s education, the learning process will feel that much more individualized and, in all likelihood, fun too!
Creative Writing For All
While schools and teachers are embracing the benefits of writing by hand, they must also ensure that the curriculum they choose to implement is suitable for all children. Typically, those who can already write accurately and coherently will enjoy the benefits of creative writing more. To that end, many schools are now including, as part of their curriculum for children who are in year 6 and 7, a short story writing component. The UK’s Creative Curriculum Standards (CCS) specifically state that “by the end of Key Stage 2, children should be capable of producing a short story that demonstrates a proficient use of language, and the basic concepts of narrative, character, and theme”. In line with this, children will be given a selection of short stories to rewrite, and they will have to do so in a creative and experimental style. Moreover, they will be graded on the quality of their work, not just the number of words they have written.
Additionally, as part of their Key Stage 3 curriculum, many schools will turn to creative writing once more. During this stage, students will be expected to develop and refine their creative writing skills through the use of various techniques, such as:
- Improving language skills through the use of models, stories, and examples
- Focusing on how the written word can be used to create different experiences for the reader
- Developing an understanding of the conventions and patterns used in written English
- Using digital tools to generate ideas, stories, and articles
- Revising, editing, and polishing previously written work
- Creating multimedia compositions, including audio, video, and more
Whether your children are struggling with their handwriting or are already proficient, giving them the opportunity to practice on a daily basis will not only help them to maintain their skills but will also allow them to develop additional ones. Moreover, while we are on the subject of practice, many children, particularly those who enjoy arts and crafts, will find the activity of putting pen to paper to be both calming and therapeutic. For example, drawing or painting pictures can help children to relax and focus, and, subsequently, be better students. Many primary schools have incorporated art into their curriculum for just this reason. Additionally, using different colored inks, pens, or markers can help develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. There are numerous benefits to be had by incorporating more arts and crafts into the school day. It can be an enjoyable way to improve student engagement and, ultimately, help them learn too!
As a general rule, the earlier a skill is incorporated into a child’s education, the easier it will be to master. With that in mind, starting cursive writing earlier than expected can prove challenging. To that end, the UK government’s Department for Education and Skills, in tandem with the Chartered Institute for Learning and Performance (CILP), published recommendations for effective teaching of writing. Their guidelines recommend that teachers should only introduce the skill after children have mastered the basics of reading and speaking, which is typically achieved by the age of 7. This is because young children, at this stage, simply do not have the cognitive resources to process the idea of ‘writing’ just yet. Having said that, the earlier a skill is introduced, the more beneficial it will be to the student’s overall education. Moreover, while individual children will hit different writing milestones at different times, it is a reliable rule of thumb that, on the whole, younger children will have a higher word count but will use fewer letters than their older counterparts. This is because their small hands require them to stretch the letters to make them fit.
As a result of all this, starting a child off on the right foot and encouraging them to enjoy and benefit from the activity of writing will ultimately help them succeed in life. From writing their feelings and thoughts to keeping records of their progress, learning to write by hand will ensure that they become independent and confident young adults.