This is the heart of the Better Handwritten Programme and the starting point for everyone, whether you’re working with younger children who are ready to start writing letters on larger lines… older children who are finding handwriting particularly challenging… or children with an established joined style that would benefit from a bit of tweaking to help them feel better about it. Indeed, this is exactly where I start with adults too.
It’s not rocket science really… individual letters need to be clear and recognisable in order to be read. Often they’re not, or the established formation means joining strokes and positioning affect clarity. If letters aren’t clear, we need to make them clear. The same applies if the writer doesn’t like a particular formation. They should know they can change it and feel better… letter by letter!
Change begins with AWARENESS…
… with handwriting as with everything in life. Improving handwriting is a such a wonderful model for understanding a process for personal change, development and growth. We can help children make this connection; it can be about so much more than letters on a page!
Have a look (a close look) at the programme’s ‘Spot the Difference’ letter sheet for ‘a’…
Where did each letter start?
Which direction did the written line go?
Where is ‘a’ in relation to any printed line?
Isn’t it interesting how many different formations there can be of a single letter?!
Without specific direction and a model to follow, children simply do their best to recreate the letter shape as they perceive it. The trouble is, every time they repeat that formation, a neural pathway is reinforced. With continued repetition the brain automates the movement. The Better Handwritten Programme gives the structure, models and understanding to address formation issues or – even better – help get things right from the start.
‘Spot the Difference’ is a great way to help children (and ourselves) become aware … by looking closely, comparing, thinking about and discussing the differences between the clear formations on the left and the examples in the grid. It can be fun puzzling out how the letters were formed… some are challenging to work out!
It’s good to focus on individual letter formations but also to consider how they might look within words. ‘Spot the Difference’ word sheets give that opportunity and a chance to compare examples of print and cursive writing.
Let’s use ‘a’ to take a look at the Better Handwritten worksheets.
There are 2 types of sheet:
Regular lines are the ones children usually have in their exercise books. Practising with these makes transference easier, so if I judge it’s appropriate from a child’s baseline sample, I start with these.
If there are challenges with controlling size or a particular letter formation, then it will often be helpful to scaffold change with…
There are three sizes of lines which support success at different stages of development and control.
‘Small’ lines correlate with commonly used exercise books and lined paper (8mm)… they’re not as tiny as they probably look here!
You’ll be amazed at the difference using these sheets (4 or 5 days a week) as part of the routine outlined in my previous blog will make.
When you subscribe to the programme you’ll find a set of blank sheets included so it’s easy to create your own practices in addition to all those provided.
PS Please don’t worry about transference to other writing initially. I’ll talk about that in a separate blog.
Change takes time, patience and perseverance…
…the good news is you can enjoy the journey – it will be worth it!
I’ve created this programme to support you with a process that gets results and gets everyone feeling better… letter by letter!
In the next blog I’ll explain the reason for the layout of the sheets and why they are deliberately handwritten rather than printed!
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