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Handwriting - does it have to be so dreadful?

(21 Posts)
GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 19:15:04

Two of my three children have dreadful handwriting. The oldest has lovely handwriting. My younger DC's handwriting seems to be typical of their peers.

The only difference between their educations is that DD1 did most of her primary education in a state school in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands children arent taught to read/write until around the age of 7. At the same time they are taught a formal handwriting style. Is there a correlation between leaving formal reading/writing until later and 'quality' of handwriting? I wonder if our obsession with early reading/writing (when fine motor skills are not there) is consigning children to dreadful handwriting.

Just a thought.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 19:25:18

Our children have beautiful handwriting, visitors to school (including the dreaded OFSTED) always comment on the high standards.

roguepixie Sun 12-Jun-11 19:26:54

Gnome, I couldn't agree more. Don't know how old your youngest two are but my DS (11) has awful handwriting. I have had several conversations with his teachers along the way, one of whom told me that the year after my DS started to be taught the script they had chosen, the teachers had changed it as it was resulting in poor handwriting. shock. On asking for any helpful/suggestions I was told there was nothing they could do!! shock. I bought a few 'help' books from Amazon and his writing is gradually improving but it takes effort and commitment and regular practice.

I think that the obsession, as you so rightly call it, is so detrimental. Children in some other countries do not have this pressure from such a young age and, as a result, appear to have much better writing.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 19:31:11

Sorry I don't think it has anything to do with starting too early but lots to do with not being taught correctly.
I've heard lots of teachers say that handwriting isn't important (because we are all going to communicate by computer )

smartyparts Sun 12-Jun-11 19:31:46

Why do American kids have such beautiful writing? I wish they were taught that way here.

My ds1 had pretty meh writing until he started at secondary school, now in Y8. It suddenly evolved into very fluid, nice writing - perhaps because they do so much of it and at high speed.

roguepixie Sun 12-Jun-11 19:52:39

Oh smarty, that is good news. Hopefully DS will gain nice handwriting in the end smile

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 20:06:27

this is an example of the handwriting of a 6 year old boy in my class

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 20:07:57

My daughter had amazing handwriting until she moved to secondary school where they were allowed to print!

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 20:09:14

I certainly think that my DCs' primary school didnt put in even the most basic support to encourage reasonable handwriting. In this I am only talking about lined paper! Repeatedly my younger DCs were given exercise books without lines. We asked many times if these could be relaced with lined paper but found out that there had been a buying cock up which meant that a load of plain paper exercise books had been bought by mistake.

My youngest is about to finish primary school so I live in hope that her handwriting will improve.

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 20:13:41

mrz that is certainly impressive for a 6 year old. Perhaps the problem is the specific school.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 20:15:21

That is your child's school not a universal policy. Our children write on lines from reception and are taught how to form letters correctly from day one.
If the wrong books had been ordered why didn't the school send them back? Suppliers are very accommodating where large annual orders are concerned...

swanker Sun 12-Jun-11 21:07:38

mrz- could you ever give the teeniest, tiniest clue where it is that you teach?

The school would be flooded with mners! grin

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 21:16:20

mrz - why didnt the school send them back? I really dont know, I think the problem is that the school isnt joined up when it comes to thinking/planning. The staff simply use whatever is in the cupboard and dont question it. When we questioned it we were met with a shrug.

Certainly moving back to the UK after 5 years in NL was an eye opener. The school in the Netherlands followed the Dalton method but in things like handwriting was completely prescriptive. We moved back to strict national curriculum but free-form handwriting.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 21:23:20

swanker we are a bog standard primary school in the NE

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 21:24:09

We have high expectations and the children and staff rise to the challenge.

startail Sun 12-Jun-11 21:34:28

Who cares, DH and I had our lives made a misery at school over this.
You don't care because I'm typing this and his boss doesn't care, because the complicated report he wrote last week was delivered by Email.

I do however agree that many many problems with, reading, writing and probably other aspects of education would be improved if we didn't force children into formal education so young.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 22:01:52

I care very much and when people apply for positions we ask for handwritten personal statements as do many large companies.

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 22:18:33

I too think it does matter. I think that it matters through secondary school when neat handwriting can influence how a teacher views a piece of work. I am sure that it can influence a little bit at exam time. I have often told DD1 to remember the poor soul who has to mark her GCSE exam scripts.

My DD1 doesnt have scary memories of learning Dutch handwriting. The reception years are spent drawing prescribed repetitive swirls and patterns. At this stage they dont know they are learning the fine motor skills to learn to write the Dutch script. Perhaps that is the secret, they spend a long time learning foundation stuff. By the time reading and writing are introduced at age 7 or so the children are ready.

mrz Sun 12-Jun-11 22:28:14

There is research to show that having fluid handwriting allows students to answer more questions in GCSE & A levels. (I had the link before half term now can't find it)


However, cursive writing does have its own advantages. Since there is no need to pick the pencil up between letters, cursive writing is typically faster than printing. Handwriting is also very useful for situations where it’s either impossible or impractical to have a laptop handy. In addition, students who have learning disabilities often find cursive writing to be easier to master than printing or typing. For example, since the letters in cursive penmanship are joined together, students with dysgraphia are less likely to confuse the letter “b” with the letter “d” when reading a document written in cursive.

This is old news but relevant

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Jun-11 23:11:07

Many thinks for the link mrz.

IndigoBell Mon 13-Jun-11 09:41:32

Handwriting def matters. It doesn't have to be neat and pretty - but it does have to be fast, fluent and legible. Absolutely. Yet teachers don't prioritize it.

Partly I think because each teacher only get's your child for a year. So in the early years they think it'll come right next year, and by the later years they think it's too late to correct it.....

And of course partly because it's not valued by 'the system'. It's only worth 3 marks in KS1 and KS2 SATS? It won't effect what level a child gets, so they don't spend as much time as they should teaching it.......

If it was worth more marks in SATS, they would spend longer correcting it....

And partly because there's this whole attitude 'that it doesn't matter' sad

And partly because if it's really bad teachers have a get out clause and can get a scribe or a transcriber for a child with really had handwriting. Much easier to to do that than actually teach them.....

If you have illegible handwriting secondary school, which does require a lot of writing, will be very hard for you.

If you have immature handwriting everyone who reads it will assume (consciously or unconsciously) that you're not very smart.......

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