Help with Handwriting

Writing is essential to learning. It is, therefore, an education system’s obligation to make certain its children are taught to write. The fact, however, that computers have taken over the written word is quite a problem. A problem people have created on their own. This writer is just as guilty as anyone; since there are students who dislike writing, teachers, like yours truly, encourage those reluctant students to do their assignment on the computer. Moreover, now that computers are part of the classroom standard, the student who becomes used to typing will not relinquish it for writing.

Typing on the computer offers ease, information, spelling check and so much more at your fingertips. If yours truly, an adult who has been writing most of her life is reluctant to resort to writing again, imagine a child who does not have the same experience. However, when youngsters do not write, this automatically creates consequences.

How children learn:

To begin with children learn through curiosity. That curiosity must be taken into the classroom. Many specialists reveal that students who learn in environments that promote a positive emotional response in the brain, it will increase the brain’s release of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which in turn boosts enjoyment, motivation and determination when challenged as well as pliability to difficulties.

Therefore, since the old fashioned teaching of writing will more than likely not bring about feelings of joy as will surfing the net, teachers must go about it a different way.

Primary school:

From the very start children naturally want to learn; hence, the so many questions so often. One of the first things they want to learn is to spell, write and read their names. It is, thus, a natural course of events that a youngster learns to write. Therefore, it needs to be done in a way which will not only keep their interest but in which the process will create a sense of celebration and mirth.

To do this in primary school is quite easy. Children at these young ages are willing to learn and do many things; even those that seem distant or unwilling, inside their longing for someone to take them by the hand and guide them.

*        Journal

The teacher can afford at this stage to be creative. First is the process where each student creates his own journal. The teacher should give a photocopy of what will be needed in order to create such a journal. Once the material is brought to class, it can be a classroom activity which will be lots of fun and why not serve a healthy snack while doing this. A significant note to mention is that in the process math will be brought into the picture, since the children will have to measure to make certain everything is symmetrical.

®     material:

©       2 scrapbook papers A4 size [or smaller]

©       1 ruled paper for guided writing 100 (depending on the level of class-up to third grade it should be ruled paper which also guides letters.)

©       OR: ruled paper designed for cursive writing.

©       Decorations:  stickers, seashells, dried flowers or anything you can think of.

Instructions:

1-Place one scrapbook paper to be used as the cover down

2-Add on top the ruled paper

3-Add on top of that the other scrapbook cover and either staple them together if the stapler is big enough OR punch holes in the middle and tie with a ribbon (for girls) and a string (for boys)

4-Finally, they can now decorate the outside cover and place their names

[If all of the above is too much trouble or you cannot find the appropriate ruled paper, ask them to purchase notebooks sold for this purpose and decorate those]

Once this is accomplished, the teacher can introduce the class to the magic of writing. Writing is truly magical, since anyone can create mythical people, beings, even places through writing. At this stage, however, each student will be required to keep a journal of their daily affairs. Some may view it as mundane, however, the educator may point out how a simple sentence can be turned into a work of art; thus involving grammar, vocabulary and syntax. In other words, the teaching of technique in a way they will be open to and absorb more easily. This would be enhanced even more so if simultaneously, a book was being read in class.

When this writer was going to school, the teacher would read many books to the class which the students would also have to continue at home. One was called ‘Queenie’.  Memories of those days still bring about feelings of warm contentment and affection for books and writing (not to mention the teacher). Reading books in class began in fourth or fifth grade. In Houston, where I was raised, teachers assigned at least one literature book each year.

*        Writing a book review

Reading a literature book in class opens up a world of opportunities. To begin with, it poses opportunities for the teacher to make her day more interesting; to instill the love of reading in her students and to assign role play. Finally, it is the ultimate opportunity for the students to write their opinion about the story. Because the aim is to encourage handwriting, the teacher may request that all writing be done in a very special notebook which the students can spend a day decorating before any writing assignments are begun.

*        Sentence building

Long before pen is put to paper, in order to have creative writers, a teacher may wish to help students build sentences. When the teacher sees fit, he/she can put a sentence on the board. Then ask the students to improve it; to build it up. This is usually for fourth grade and up.

e.g. Timothy has got a dog.

To help the students the teacher can place thought provoking questions which will encourage sentence enrichment.

e.g.

What is it called? Is it young or old? What color is it? What kind of dog is it?

*        Students’ result:

Timothy has got an old dog named Riley; a golden retriever.

Timothy has got an old dong named Riley, which is a golden retriever.

To conclude, adopting any of the above ideas will certainly prove helpful. However, the bottom line is that when a teacher shows interest in the students and the subject at hand, the enthusiasm will spread like wildfire. Helping students with handwriting in a high tech world is still very much up to the educator’s aspiration.