With so much emphasis on typing both in academics and in our everyday lives, I really don’t worry that my kids won’t learn to be proficient typists (last night my 2 year old sat on his father’s lap and created 60 pages of text “typing”) but I’ll admit that I do worry that their handwriting skills could suffer if I don’t create opportunities for them to practice regularly.
Today I’ve teamed up with BIC® in the Fight For Your Write campaign. I just took the BIC® Fight For Your Write pledge and I want to share with you why: as my kids are getting older they use technology more and more for written communication and honestly I am OK with that; word processing is an incredibly useful skill (one I am using right now to create this post), that being said, the art and skill of handwriting is also crucial.
Experts recommend at least 15 minutes of handwriting instruction each day for students. Research has shown that improved handwriting skills have benefits for cognitive development, motor skills and can lead to improved writing skills and comprehension.
Source: Hanover Research (2012). The Importance of Teaching Handwriting in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Hanover Research
Handwriting Activities for Mechanics and Endurance
I try to create two different types of regular handwriting practice for my kids; each day we work on either mechanics or endurance.
Mechanics. When focusing on mechanics we keep it short and the goal is for them do their very best work concentrating on proper letter formation, evenness, spacing and neatness. One of the ways we accomplish this is through copy work, which is much like it sounds, copying well written sentences, quotes, or paragraphs.
This is useful for practicing mechanics because the child doesn’t have to decide what to write or recall how to spell each word or even worry about punctuation, instead they focus solely on letter formation and overall neatness (they can, however, learn a lot of grammar and punctuation just through discussing it when preparing to do the copy work)
Another method we use for practicing mechanics is to add captions to illustrations drawn by my kids or using pictures from magazines, the internet, or even our personal collection of family photos. Captions are usually short and easy to hold in their heads so they can again really allow the focus to be on letter and word formation. Generally speaking we do not on used lined paper for captions allowing them to practice proportion and planning, which may not look particularly neat but really is a valuable way to hone skills that will help them write neatly over time.
With both of these practices I ask my kids to point out one letter or word they think could use improvement and fix it and one letter or word that they think is the best on the page.
Endurance. When working on endurance I try to keep things fun and as relaxed as possible; we don’t focus on letter formation, neatness, spelling or grammar the idea is just to get things down on paper and build writing stamina.
Some of our favorite ways to build endurance are:
- Picture Prompts- ask your child to write for 15 minutes about a picture.
- Writing Prompts- whether you come up with your own or find them on the internet it can be fun to write or print them on slips of paper to draw at random from a jar.
- Pass the Story- one person starts a story (it could be a sentence or a paragraph depending on age or ability) and then passes it to the next person who must add to the story writing an amount appropriate to their skill level and then they pass it to the next person, so on and so forth.
- Why? Because- This is a silly game where one person writes a why question on top of a piece of paper and then folds it over so that their question is covered and everyone takes turns “answering” the question (No Peeking!) starting with Because… for example the question might be “Why is the sky blue?” and an answer might be “Because superheroes like saving people.”
- Journal Writing- this doesn’t have to be the Dear Diary type of writing though it certainly can be, you can simply supply a number of inexpensive notebooks to write in. It doesn’t matter if they are keeping their ideas, drawings, lists of toys they want; if its theirs to fill up you can be pretty sure they will!
Head on over to BIC® Fight For Your Write pledge too, where you can enter for a chance to WIN a $1,200 BIC® Prize Pack* to help your kids write more at home. Don’t forget to opt in for their monthly e-newsletter to get more tips and tools that will help you become a Handwriting Hero!
*No Purchase necessary, U.S. residents only, 18+, ends 09/14/15. For details and full rules visit www.BICFightForYourWrite.com.
Lorien Van Ness is the mother of four children ranging in age from toddler to tween, as well as, a freelance writer and regular contributor at Creative with Kids and Hands On As We Grow. Having worked with children from birth through adolescence in a professional capacity for more than 10 years, she enjoys helping families create meaningful experiences that foster strong relationships. She grabs any free moment she can to write about life, parenting, and everything in between.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bic. The opinions and text are all mine.