At St. Paul’s handwriting is very important because when it is taught well, children's self-esteem and motivation levels rise, helping improve their attitude to other subjects. It also encourages pride, concentration, and perseverance. Good handwriting gives a favourable impression. We want to always teach children that it is respected and that it really matters.
This journey begins in Nursery where the children participate in a funky fingers or dough disco session everyday to develop their fine motor muscles ready for writing. From Reception, the children begin to learn our school handwriting style that is a very simplistic and clear semi-cursive style. It does not have ‘loops’ or ‘lead-ins’.
Our handwriting programme of daily lessons includes capital letters, numerals and lowercase letters – printed and joined. At the end, letters are well formed, joined and of the correct size. Each lesson only lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. Little and often is the key. The teacher demonstrates what they want the children to practise - a single upper- or lower-case letter, straight lines of different lengths or a pair of joined letters. They write slowly, speaking continually so the children receive both oral and visual messages; instructing them where to begin in relation to the line guide; exactly where to move the pen or pencil, with constant reminders about the size of small, tall and tail letters.
The constant bombardment of appropriate language is vital. Each short practice lasts no more than two minutes and, while the children are writing, the teacher should be moving constantly, assessing where help is required, offering individual advice and praise in full ear-shot of the rest of the class to re-enforce teaching points and good practice. When necessary, the teacher makes further demonstrations in children's books.
There are many important jigsaw pieces to fit in place, such as writing tools and body posture, but within our school, uniformity in approach, language and expectation are important so teachers build on previous good working habits.
Prior to a handwriting session, staff will ensure that the children are prepared to write by…
BBC – Bottom Back in Chair
TNT – Tummy Near Table
Six feet, two hands – chair and child feet plus one hand to write with and one hand to hold the page still.
During a handwriting session, staff will remind children of the following key elements of letter formation and where letters sit on the line.
All exercise books in school are pre-printed with the correct guidelines so that they can practise applying their handwriting learning every time they write in any subject. These come in three different sizes which the children progress through. Children in Key Stage 2 are awarded pen licences when their handwriting is consistently neat and accurate in line with our handwriting programme. Children in Year 5 and 6 will move on to standard lined when they can maintain the standard of their writing without the use of the scaffold provided by the handwriting lines.