The handwriting of the majority of our boys has long been a point of despair, issues addressed over the years have been numerous. Incorrect pencil grip, starting letters at the incorrect ‘clock’ position, sloppy and careless formation, incorrect posture, lack of spatial awareness leading to incorrect spacing between words, non-uniformity of letter sizing and inconsistent use of capital and lower case letters are the main culprits.
Several years ago when reading You can Teach Your Child Successfully: Grades 4-8 I was inspired by Ruth Beechick’s suggestion of tackling handwriting by holding a ‘boot camp’. ‘Boot camp’ allows you time to intensively focus on an area needing attention. Ruth suggested a few days, a week, but this term I’ve chosen to focus once a week for an hour. This is not the first time we have held bootcamp but it has been many years since we have done so. We have been trying handwriting sheets but with little progress, I felt it was time to bring in ‘the Commando!’
On our first lesson I dressed in army shirt and belt, which made the children giggle and thus we began in a light hearted mood:) It is understood that in bootcamp I can and will correct any of the above issues, requesting work to be rubbed out and redone. I demonstrate and model on the blackboard, discussing clock positions, the need for uniformity and spacing as I write. Then as the children write I walk around watching and correcting where needed, pencil grip, posture (yes, the child at far right was corrected) neatness etc are all checked. The children are more open to correction and take more care during bootcamp, although the youngest ones can get anxious, I’m reassured that they care!
This term I discovered an OOP title, Spelling and Handwriting, Curriculum for Primary Schools printed by the NSW Education Department in 1970. I’ve added their suggestions of various rhythmic exercises and patterns, a fun way to practice pencil control, in truth their patterns remind me of form drawing.
Already I am seeing an improvement with the older children’s writing during handwriting bootcamp (whether I see an improvement outside of bootcamp remains to be seen), and the younger children are eager to ‘get it correct’ which wasn’t the situation last term. Determined to make a difference.