Handwriting is very important to us at TIMU Academy Trust. We teach cursive handwriting from the beginning of each child’s journey at our schools.
The teaching of cursive handwriting begins from Reception as it lessens the chance of reversing letters by removing the need to take the pencil from the paper between letters. Also, cursive script teaches children to write words as a continuous flowing movement which will lead to speed and fluency in time. All class-facing staff model cursive handwriting to children at all times.
Before cursive handwriting can be taught, children participate in activities involving gross and fine motor skills which will lead onto the vital movements for letter formation. Without these skills and muscle strength being in place, children struggle to form their writing.
Fine motor skills include:
Academic skills including
- Pencil skills (scribbling, colouring, drawing, writing)
- Scissors skills (cutting)
- Construction skills using lego, duplo, puzzles, train tracks
- Doll dressing and manipulation
- IT use (e.g. mouse and stylus manipulation)
Self care including
- dressing – tying shoelaces, doling up sandals, zips, buttons, belts
- eating – using cutlery, opening lunch boxes and food bags
- hygiene – cleaning teeth, brushing hair, toileting.
Note: Visual perception (accurately using vision, ‘seeing’ and interpreting) is not strictly a fine motor skill but directly supports fine motor skill performance.
Creating patterns and strategic colouring using the correct pencil grip are then encouraged, using the handwriting patterns (see below) which form the basis of all letters. This will lead onto the writing of letters, words and then complete sentences. Children should have regular, explicit handwriting lessons to enable a real focus on high quality presentation which is modelled by staff at all times.
All children begin to learn to write using a pencil. Once the use of cursive handwriting is used consistently and accurately across all areas of the curriculum, they will be rewarded with a pen licence. This is assessed by the Executive Principal to take a non-biased opinion.
To aid the teaching of cursive handwriting at TIMU, we use a software called LetterJoin. This works as an interactive teaching resource, as well as enabling teachers to create worksheets and tasks specifically catered to children’s individual handwriting needs.
In order to support your child at home, it would be beneficial to practise patterns (if letter formation not yet established) using a variety of media (paint, chalk, sand, shaving foam). Verbalising the movements needed to form the letters will help your child to remember what they need to do to create the letter/pattern also. Please use the example handwriting patterns and letter formations below to ensure the correct teaching of these.
Supporting the development of motor skills at home
Why are fine motor skills important?
Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday skills as outlined above as well academic skills. Without the ability to complete these everyday tasks, a child’s self-esteem can suffer, their academic performance is compromised and their play options are very limited. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in ‘life’ skills (such as getting dressed and feeding themselves) which in turn has social implications not only within the family but also within peer relationships.
How can you tell if a child has fine motor skill difficulties at a glance?
- Avoidance and/or disinterest of fiddly finger skills (and has tasks listed above)
- Preferring physical activity (again to avoid sit down tasks)
- Interest in ‘passive’ activities such as IT (e.g. watching TV an IPAD that don’t require Fine Motor skills)
- No interest in pencil or scissors skills
- Being ‘bossy’ in play and asking others to “draw a cat for me”
- Not persisting in the face of a challenge (e.g. asking parents to fix a problem without physically trying to fix it themselves)
- Waiting for parents to dress them or clean their teeth rather than trying themselves
- Refusal to use stylus with the IPAD
Handwriting Patterns and Handwriting Families
Capital Letter Formation
Letter Formation Year R to Year 6