Handwriting is an enduring skill
Our children are growing up in an era where keyboarding skills are starting to dominate handwriting skills. It has even been suggested that handwriting skills are no longer essential now that electronic devices which enable us to communicate in written form are freely available.
However, handwriting skills play an important role in a child’s development beyond just an inability to write by hand.
Fine motor skills
Handwriting skills began when your child first picks up a crayon and begins to scribble. Handwriting helps to develop fine motor skills essential for a range of tasks including writing, drawing, doing up a button, tying shoelaces, peeling vegetables,- anything that requires finger dexterity. The simple act of holding a pen or pencil properly and guiding it along the paper in many directions to create letters and words is actually a big task.
The level of brain activity required to complete this task has no equivalence in keyboarding. When it comes to brain development, the difference between keyboarding and handwriting has been likened to the difference between playing the triangle and playing the violin!
Handwriting skills help children learn to read
English is not the easiest language when it comes to reading and spelling – there are many rules, and exceptions to those rules, to learn. Recent brain scan studies have shown that early handwriting skill development provides a child with stronger and longer lasting recognition of the characters of the alphabet, suggesting that the specific movements memorised when learning how to write aid the visual identification of graphic shapes. Keyboarding doesn’t have this effect.
Handwriting skills help children learn anything
Pictures of the brain have also illustrated that handwriting activates massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language and working memory - the system responsible for temporarily storing and managing information.
Primary school children have also been found to write more words, write them faster, and express more ideas when writing by hand verses with a keyboard.
Time to get help with your child's handwriting?
There are many service providers on KidsLink who specialise in helping children with handwriting. You can find them in the Learning section of the website or you can type 'handwriting" into the search box on the top right of any page.