Learning to Write and Spell
| Writing | Handwriting | Spelling |

''There is a growing field of research that supports the French belief that handwriting is an important skill—not just for its own sake, but because it is correlates with other important skills and brain functions, such as language learning, reading development, and working memory'' (Susan Vachon. Education Week.12/3/14)

Do ensure that all the children can sit on a chair at a table for the writing part of the phonics lesson, so that they can sit comfortably, holding a pen or pencil correctly with a proper tripod grip.

Encourage your child to hold their pencil correctly right from the beginning; remind them of the tripod pencil hold, ''froggy legs with pencil resting on the log''. Left handers need to be shown how to angle the paper and write the letters with their hand below the line rather than by hooking their hand over the top of the line. With initial guidance, left-handed children can be taught to handwrite just as legibly as right-handed ones.

Late b/d reversal is linked to poor handwriting instruction. Students with this difficulty habitually start writing both letters at same point on the line, resulting in a failure to distinguish between them. (Tricia Millar) It is also more likely when 'ball and stick' style print script has been taught. To prevent this difficulty, start all children off with a pre-cursive style of handwriting as the individual letters are less easily confused and moving to joined-up writing is easier. To remediate b / d confusion, show the child how to use their own mouth shape as a cue. 'Make your mouth the shape to say a letter b ..... your lips make a straight line, so you write the letter that starts with a straight line- the b. When you start to say 'd'.... your lips and tongue make a circle (ish) so that's the letter that starts with a circle'.

b/d reversal: what can be done?

On the subject of classroom teaching of handwriting, synthetic phonics trainer Debbie Hepplewhite points out the big difference, ''(B)etween learning to write with a mini whiteboard sitting cross-legged on the floor with a marker pen – and learning to write with paper and pencil, learning correct pencil hold and sitting comfortably at a correct-sized desk'' (ABC Does...blog). She adds, ''It is handwriting that adds to the 'multi-sensory' set of activities for core phonics learning. We have virtually a nation of children learning to write with marker pens sitting scrunched up on the floor. I ask teachers wherever I speak or train to conduct observations around their schools when children are writing to see just how they write (physically). What is their posture, how do they hold their implements, do they write 'under' the words or 'above' (hooking their wrists around -writing 'upside down' in effect), where is their 'spare hand', how well do they form their letters on writing lines??? Further, how do the STAFF handwrite in front of the children, when modelling any writing, when marking the children's work?'' (Hepplewhite. RRF message board)

Do provide plenty of handwriting practice using pencils and paper, not mini whiteboards.

Debbie Hepplewhite: Teaching Handwriting

National Handwriting Association has summarised the handwriting requirements for KS 1.2.3 in the new National Curriculum, which will be statutory in maintained schools from September 2014:

NHA's overview of handwriting instruction in early education.

Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths

Learning to read/recognize letters via handwriting vs via keyboard / tablet

Why the pen is mightier than the keyboard:

Video: Teaching handwriting in France

Want to improve children's writing? Don't neglect their handwriting.

Writing by hand helps with reading, spelling and possibly language development.