Formation of letters – effect on legibility of Handwriting:
Well the English language has only 26 letters in its Alphabet. Each letter has a distinct shape or formation and a distinct sound. This property of the letters makes it possible to create a word, while a group of words forms a sentence.
When we write a word or a sentence the objective is that it should be legible and readable. After all that’s what handwriting is! But it does not always happen that way. Not everybody can write legibly.
The big question is why are some handwritings not readable? To understand this we need to, understand the definition of a Legible Handwriting, ‘When every single letter in a word maintains its identity and the correct prescribed shape, we can say the handwriting is legible & readable’.
So we can see from the above that the formation (correct shape) of a letter decides the legibility of any Handwriting.
If you ponder over the question ‘how much time does it take before a child can actually write complete and correct sentence that is not only legible & readable but also conveys a message?’ the answer is, ‘It takes a minimum of 4 to 5 years that a child spends in the Pre-primary, i.e. from Nursery to Standard 2, where the teacher and the child both labor hard to teach and learn to write every letter correctly’.
From here arises another question, ‘If it takes 5 years to master a Handwriting skill, how can it deteriorate in just a couple of years from then?’
There could be many reasons as an answer to this question. One can say, the prime reason is the shift from quality of Handwriting in the Pre-primary to quantity of Handwriting in the Primary and above. Some would say the callousness or carelessness of the student or some would also say attribute this to the poor ability of the student. etc, etc.
But I would say we need to find the answer to this question in the very basic method adopted in training the children to write. I would like to put forth in a chronological order certain facts:
1. A child is pushed into writing a letter right from the time of introduction. We forget that a letter introduced for the first time to a kid is nothing but another object and a letter will become a letter for the child only when it is related to its sound.
2. Correct Posture and Grip are two very important aspects affecting the proper formation of letters. These are hardly given importance.
3. A child is introduced to writing on ruled sheets without any knowledge of lines.
4. With progressing years with an increase in the quantity of writing a child is not trained about maintaining speed and legibility.
5. As the child grows and moves from pre-primary to primary and secondary school thereafter, there is no integrated system to make sure that a child revisits the handwriting skills learned in the early years of academics.
As teachers initiating the children into learning to write in English we should preferably follow the following process
1. A child should be exposed to multiple activities that can introduce them to the shape and sound of every single letter to an extent that it gets embedded in the child’s mind and the child can correlate both.
2. During the initial days every child should be made to follow the correct grip and right posture, till it becomes a habit. Parents should also be educated regarding this.
3. The kids should be introduced to the uppercase letters to be written in blocks before they move to ruled sheets.
4. Exclusive sessions for maintaining legibility with speed should be given to every child.
5. Once the Kids are in Standard 3 and move ahead with progressing years, the school must introduce systems that can make the child revisit the Handwriting skills they have learned in the Primary Years of Schooling.
I would insist that If we can introduce a system for Revisit and Recall of the Handwriting Skills in every school, this would take care of the legibility issue of every single child. This can be done by introducing Handwriting Curriculum Books in every school. We in-turn would be helping the children in their overall academic performance with better learning and improved grades.
Let us understand that when it is about academics, Handwriting Still Matters.