It most of the times comes as a surprise when one sees several children in early teens having absolutely illegible handwriting. This actually should not be happening because a child spends almost 4 to 5 years learning the skill of Handwriting. So the question that arises, is there a flaw in the very handwriting training process that has been adapted and practiced for years? Well this may not be correct because several students going through the same training process have good and absolutely legible handwriting. It has been observed that the deterioration in the handwriting usually starts from Grade 4 onwards and gets worse by the time they reach the 7th or 8th grade. In early grades of primary school the students usually have legible Handwriting. This brings us to a logical conclusion that either the students lose interest in writing as they move up the grades or their errors are not pointed out in the right time.
So what is the solution?
It certainly could be introducing certain systems where the students are made to re-visit their basic Handwriting skills regularly from grade 4 onward right through the secondary schooling.
This is easier said than done, because these grownup students not only hate to do handwriting work, but doing handwriting practice will be an absolutely unwelcome idea to them.
The option is to inculcate Handwriting as an integral part of the curriculum till high school. This will require exclusively created Handwriting books where the content includes basics of Handwriting development along with material for language development. This book should be complementary to normal language or English classes as per the recommendation of the School syllabus.
When you are looking for the best book to teach Handwriting to students it is important to know the prerequisites of the process. It should address all Handwriting related issues like faulty Grip or Positioning of the paper, slants, joining of letters in case of Cursive writing, space between letters and words, margins, writing on un-ruled papers, and some amount of Grammar.
When we introduce handwriting books, the content therein should be in the following chronological order:
1. Grip: Training the students to learn the correct grip is very important as this ensures comfortable movement of the pencil/pen on the paper. A faulty grip can affect the speed of writing.
2. Posture and placement of Paper: This is again of great importance because the right body posture and a correctly positioned paper help in the right formation of the letters. It reduces the stress on the wrist and neck muscles, ensuring that Handwriting does not become an irritating task. This should be pictorially shown right in the beginning of the book.
3. Formation of letters: This is one of the major reasons for illegibility of Handwriting. The most important aspect to be taken care is that every letter formed is distinct and has its individual identity maintained. A small segment should be dedicated to practice the letter formations.
4. Formation of words and correct spacing between letters: Correct space between letters ensures that the individual identity of every letter is constantly maintained and there is no overlapping. For example in a Right Slant handwriting if the dot on the ‘i’ goes missing it can be read as ‘c’. It is important the book reminds them to maintain adequate space between two letters to ensure legibility of each letter. There should be options to practice the same.
5. Formation of sentences and spacing between words: While writing a sentence or a paragraph adequate spacing between every word is important for legibility. The book should also help in adequate spacing must allow practice to ensure readability of every word.
Although most of the pre-primary handwriting training books follow these steps, it is important to find a book that not only trains in handwriting to students in the higher classes but also helps in improving the language. It should not be a copy book, because repetition becomes mechanical and breeds errors. It should equally involve parents and give instructions to teachers to toe the exact line of action, to ensure the most desired results of development of the Handwriting that is legible with least errors.
One such book that I came across is the series ‘My Handwriting Book’ designed exclusively for development of Handwriting and language of the students right from pre-primary to secondary school. It covers all the points discussed above.