Handwriting Needs a Hand
Kids today don't have good penmanship. But so what? They use keyboards. Isn't
Hardly. Penmanship has gotten a bad
rap lately. It's hardly ever taught for any length of time in school. You see
children in second and third grades still grasping their pencils in their
fists, and suffering strain and fatigue after just a few minutes. No wonder!
There's a trick to holding the pencil, and if you don't teach a child the right
way, you're asking for trouble.
Yes, handwriting is an academic
skill that is as basic as reading and writing.
Why? Because it builds important
mental skills and eye-hand coordination. Keyboard typing doesn't even come
close to the mental benefits that learning to use proper penmanship provides.
The point isn't to produce
perfectly-shaped and aligned letters, although good handwriting is one of those
classic self-esteem builders, like a good singing voice and foot speed. The
real value isn't in what's produced on paper, but what's produced in the
n Practice with penmanship builds
eye-hand coordination. Typing provides little or none of this. But the skills
that come from forming letters precisely will pay off in school, work and life.
Think: mechanics, doctors, engineers, artists, pilots. . . .
n Good penmanship also builds
self-control, with good posture, the proper positioning of the paper on the
desk, and the correct alignment of the pencil in the hand. Good handwriting
requires mental and physical discipline.
n Many children today hold a pencil in
their fists or other wacky positions because they were never taught the proper
position. Consequently, they get tired of writing after just a few lines.
n Handwriting allows a child's
personality and individuality to shine through, which is important and
valuable. A child may express words and ideas better in his or her own "hand"
because it feels unique and creative. Typing, by contrast, looks
machine-generated and conformist, because it is.
n Spelling, sentence structure and
overall writing quality all improve. When you are taught to take care forming
individual letters, that same habit of caring spreads to how letters come
together into words, and words into sentences and so forth. Diligence starts in
those early grades. It's crucial.
n Taking care with handwriting teaches
n You can't "hide" misspellings when
the handwriting's good, so teachers don't miss them.
Homework: Parents can help all children a lot
by going to school officials and asking for more of an emphasis on proper
penmanship skills in the early grades. Meanwhile,
you might want to "do it yourself" if your school skimps on handwriting
instruction. A school supply store should have beginning penmanship paper and a
copy of the Palmer Method, the best handwriting curriculum ever, for at-home