ISE Primary division Handwriting Policy

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1 ISE Primary division Handwriting Policy August

2 Rationale Handwriting is a skill which affects written communication across the curriculum. It is a movement skill which is taught most effectively by demonstration, explanation and practice. The principal aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process, which frees pupils to focus on the content of their writing. The correct formation of all letters should become automatic. This can be achieved if handwriting is taught in ways that enhance fluency and legibility. In the Primary school we have children entering at Group 1 level, from the age of four as well as children entering the school at all stages of their education, bringing with them a variety of learning experiences, handwriting styles and written alphabets. It is therefore crucial that we, as a school have a consistent approach to the teaching of handwriting, enabling us to meet the needs of all students, regardless of culture, background, gender, age, handedness or ability. It is of the utmost importance that we foster the development of a legible, fluent handwriting style in each student, thus influencing a positive outcome on all aspects of their schoolwork. Although handwriting is still considered a valuable educational tool it is acknowledged that correct keyboard skills are also essential for children to acquire in the 21 st century. (See ICT policy) Aims: To enable all children to develop a clear, legible and fluent style of handwriting. To assist children to produce writing with speed, ease and comfort. To ensure children are aware that handwriting can vary according to audience even if it is for yourself. To ensure that children demonstrate an understanding of the concepts underlying the writing system: 1. The left to right directional movement 2. The prescribed movement of each letter, including the point of entry and the direction of the stroke 3. Height differentials 4. The appropriate use of capital letters 5. The spacing of letters and words 6. The discrimination between letters with mirror images. To encourage children to develop a personal handwriting style that suits their own needs at school and later in life. To assist children to develop self-evaluation skills that lead to the pursuit of a high standard of handwriting. To provide teachers with a guideline for the successful teaching of handwriting. In order to achieve these aims, the following principles will be followed: The Penpals handwriting scheme will be used in groups 2 to 6. August

3 The main font used is Sassoon which is on the computer. Learning objectives will be made clear during the lesson introduction. All adults who use handwriting in school for children to read will model appropriate handwriting to the children for example when: using white boards and flip charts; writing on children s work; marking children s work; scribing for children; handwriting for displays and labels. The focus will always be on the correct movement of the letters. Reinforce correct movement over neatness. Neatness will follow once correct movement is established. Correct vocabulary will be used and taught. (eg ascenders, descenders, spacing, joins, letter names not sounds, etc.) Good posture will be taught and suitable furniture provided. Lighting will be sufficient to avoid shadows on the paper. Handwriting will be explicitly taught in a regular weekly handwriting lesson from groups 1 to 6. Skills can be taught in a small group, 1-1 or as a whole class as appropriate. In groups 1 to 4 all handwriting activities which are based on the formation of letters will be supervised. Children will not be set unsupervised copying tasks to teach handwriting during guided reading sessions as this may reinforce the incorrect movement of letters even if the writing appears neat. When teaching handwriting an attempt will be made to combine all learning styles. Letters will be modelled for all children to see. Visual: ask the children to make the correct movements in the air, on a whiteboard, on paper. Kinesthetic: tracing letters in sand/flour, on a child s back etc. Aural: describe the movements as you make them (poems and jingles can help). Different standards of writing will be encouraged for different purposes. For example, a first draft may not be as neat as a final draft. Similarly, work for display will need to be of a high standard. Children will be encouraged to discuss the quality of their own handwriting, focusing on: formation; consistency of size; height differentiation; use of capital letters; spacing; and neatness. Children can then be involved in setting goals for their own handwriting development and self assessment. Children who join the school who are already proficient in a different style of writing may continue to write in the style they have been taught at their previous school. It has been suggested that it is best to have handwriting lessons after a physical activity such as outdoor play or a gym lesson. We actively encourage this and will be monitoring the effect of this suggestion. Group 1 Children will experience a variety of strategies to develop gross and fine motor control prior to formal handwriting. A variety of activities including large movements will be available for the children to encourage practising pre-writing skills through play and art with a wide variety of writing tools and surfaces. Children will be given the opportunity to experiment with a range of writing materials and implements; a multi-sensory approach will be used to help pupils feel the movement in the hand. Gross motor skills will be developed through sky writing letters, making patterns in the air and making different body shapes and actions. Fine motor skills will be developed through August

4 bead threading, play dough modelling, finger painting etc. Pencil control will be developed through tracing, pattern copying etc. Suggested activities to develop gross and fine motor skills Tracing in wet and dry sand Painting using thick brushes (water on playground/wall) Pegboard patterns Sewing and weaving activities Cutting out Whiteboard work Draw letters on backs/different textures eg. carpet, sandpaper Jelly letters Manipulating play dough and clay Picking up different sized objects such as beads with tweezers Using pegs to peg objects to a string or card Finger painting Various threading activities In the Early years the Letters and Sounds programme is followed for the teaching of phonics. The teaching of phonics, spelling and handwriting will be closely linked. In phase two of Letters and Sounds the children begin to identify letter shapes and practice manipulating magnetic letters and boards. Children s capacity to write letters will depend on their physical maturity. As the phonemes and graphemes are introduced in phase two the children will be taught the correct formation of these letters. Therefore the letter formation will be practised as the link to the phoneme is made. By the end of phase three children should be able to write each letter correctly when following a model. The emphasis at this stage will be with movement. Letter formation (starting at the right entry point and then moving in the right direction) learned at this early stage becomes automatic and has a profound influence on later fluency and legibility. In group 1 the first letters that children are often interested in writing are the letters in their name. Time will be allocated for children to practice writing the letters in their name supervised by an adult to ensure direction and orientation. However the first marks that children make during experimental writing will also be encouraged and given value. As the children give meaning to their developmental writing the teacher will model correct formation. Group 2 Children will continue to develop the skills of correct letter formation as introduced in group one. Children will be taught how to form both lower case and capital letters correctly, whilst August

5 still developing fine and gross motor skills with a range of multi-sensory activities. Children move on to thin pencils when appropriate. The children will be taught to: Write from left to right and from top to bottom. Start and finish letters correctly. Be consistent with the size and shape of letters and the spacing of letters and words. Have the correct pencil grip. Find a convenient position for their page. Have the correct posture and position. Erasers will not be used in groups one and two by the children as children should be encouraged to take risks in their writing. Group 3 Joining will be introduced when the correct movement of all letters is established. Once children are using the correct movement they may begin to join automatically. Erasers should be introduced as a tool so that they are used correctly and not over used, Groups 4 and 5 In group 4 the children will consolidate their use of the basic handwriting joins, ensuring consistency in size, proportion and spacing of letters. By the end of group 4 joined handwriting should be encouraged at all times unless other specific forms are required, e.g. printing on a map, a fast script for notes. In group 4 and 5, handwriting speed, fluency and legibility are built up through practice. It is anticipated that all children will be writing in pen by the end of group 5. Groups 6 and 7 Time in Groups 6 and 7 will be used to consolidate learning for those children who have not yet achieved a fluent and legible joined script. Once a clear, legible handwriting style has been developed the focus will be developing speed. Exercises that encourage the development of speed will be provided. The use of writing for different purposes will be encouraged. Various styles will also be introduced to enhance presentation including headings. Tippex (correction fluid) or correction tape will not be used by the children. Posture Developing a good posture is as important as developing a good pencil grip. Children will be able to sustain writing for longer if they become used to sitting comfortably. The following August

6 seating posture is recommended: Ensure that they have a good pencil grip. Ensure feet are flat on the floor Children should be sitting up with their bottoms pushed into the back of their chairs. The lighting should be good, so that the children can see what they have written. Children should have a direct view of the teacher/board. Children should use their non-writing hand to steady the paper and bear some body-weight. The paper should be tilted. Grip In order to develop a fast and fluent style, children need to learn to hold a pencil with the correct grip. This should be relaxed but allow good control over the pencil. If they grip too tightly they will tire quickly and will not achieve a free-flowing movement. The correct grip will be between the thumb and forefinger with the pencil resting on the third finger. Children are taught the correct grip and children who find this difficult may be given a special pencil grip to attach to their pencil to help correct an incorrect grip and reinforce the correct grip. Inclusion Handwriting problems can be indicators of learning difficulties. Students with spelling problems often suffer from poor handwriting. For those children it is essential that we enable them to use pen lifts if using syllables as an aid to spelling. Students may need extra support in developing fine motor skills. Teachers of children whose handwriting is limited by problems with fine motor skills should liaise with the SENCO to develop a programme designed for the individual child. For upper school teachers this may also involve liaising with teachers in the lower school for advice and ideas. Changing the tool used the lines on the paper, the pencil grip, or even the slant and placement of the paper may all assist a child who is experiencing difficulty. Other areas that could be considered are posture, lighting, angle of table etc. Be prepared to try different approaches with these children. Left Handed Children The following is recommended for left handed children: Sit on the left handed side of a right handed child. Place the paper on the left hand side of the child s midline. Paper will need to be slanted to suit the individual. Paper needs to be pushed slightly away from the child s body. Students may need to hold the pencil/pen a little further away from the point so as not to obstruct their vision. August

7 The seat should be high enough that the child can see over their hand. Light should come over the left shoulder. Practise left to right movements. May write with a slightly backward slant. Instead of discouraging this, provide a script that has the same slant. Be aware of problems: that the student is not starting letters at the bottom; spacing problems; lack of joining. Resources The main resource is the Penpals handwriting scheme. Lined handwriting books will be used for handwriting lessons from group 2. In groups 2and 3 wider lines are used. Children in the early years will practise writing on a variety of papers and surfaces or whiteboards as well as worksheets and the media/activities described above in the group 1 section. HB pencils will be used for writing. Younger children or those who experience difficulties with their grip will use learner pencils which are fatter and may be triangular. Some children will have grips attached to their pencils. In group 4 the children are given their first handwriting stabilo pen to use. They take these pens with them to group 5. However, from group 5 a wide variety of pens are used and roller ball pens are deemed appropriate. The use of biros is discouraged. Monitoring and Evaluation The standards and quality of the teaching and learning of handwriting will be monitored in the following ways: Writing moderation Letters and Sounds handwriting assessment tasks Lesson observations by Curriculum Co-ordinator Joan Roach (Curriculum Co-ordinator) August 2012 August

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