Learning to write: what can help?
When writing difficulties occur, everyone’s immediate focus is on choosing the most favourable lettering. This is just one aspect of learning to write, however. The correct path from children drawing their first letters to automated handwriting is much more important.
These factors support writing and learning to write
1. Regularly practising writing motor skills: short exercises are best, as the child can repeat them more frequently.
2. Permitting and planning breaks while writing: breaks provide relief for the hand muscles, reduce writing pressure and increase writing speed.
3. Worthwhile rather than inflexible exercises: consciously varying (letter) forms, writing speed, writing pressure, writing rhythm: large/small, slow/quick, heavy/light, arrhythmic/rhythmic. Here it is both appropriate and necessary for movements to be carried out in an exaggerated manner in order to experience the differences between them. Basic shape movements (e.g. lines, arcs, garlands, circles) should be automated, and educators should support the transfer of acquired skills to writing letters, words and sentences.
4. Helping children achieve automated writing as quickly as possible: this occurs subconsciously, without paying particular attention to movement accuracy, allowing the brain to concentrate on other writing processes (e.g. orthography, text processing or content).
5. Providing unrestrictive line templates: use colour areas for orientation, only require children to adhere to a basic line, or place templates underneath the paper.
6. Permitting simplified letters: allow children to test their personal writing style as long as letter forms are legible, and do not consider them errors. Recognise that deviations from normal writing (lettering) are a necessary step in learning fluent handwriting; consciously reflect and work on this with the children.
7. Trying out letter joining that is favourable from a motor skills perspective, and lifting the pen where it is effective to do so while writing: experienced writers, for example, only join up letters that can be written more quickly joined than separately (e.g. “le”. “au”, “ei” or “ch”). Most writers lift the pen before anti-clockwise ovals, however (e.g. “lo”, “nd”, “ig”, “la” or “ec”). Measurements have shown that letter combinations of this kind can be written more quickly as separate letters than when joined together.
8. Trying out different writing materials: use different writing instruments and surfaces.
9. Correcting unfavourable and inhibiting pen holds carefully but consistently: the pen should be held loosely and relaxed in order to avoid cramping and extreme finger postures, such as rigidly bent fingers.
10. For left-handers: ensure the child has the correct seat (e.g. always to the left of a right-hander, so that their writing arms do not collide), the correct writing instrument, desk pad and paper position (turned 45° clockwise).
MAI N.; MARQUARDT C.; QUENZEL I.: Wie kann die Flüssigkeit von Schreibbewegungen gefördert werden? In: Balhorn H, Niemann H (Hrsg.) Sprachen werden Schrift. Lengwil, Schweiz: Libelle, 1997
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Schreibmotorik Institut e.V. (2017). Learning to write: What can help? Retrieved [Month dd, yyyy] from http://www.schreibmotorik-institut.com/index.php/en/facts-tips/expertise/511-learning-to-write-what-can-help