Handwriting - The Not-So-Lost Art You Should Practice Today

Posted: September 08, 2020 | Updated: September 08, 2020
Created by: Ms. Sylvia

Why is Handwriting Important?

I remember receiving a hand-written recipe from a neighbor when I was a child and marveling at her neat, beautiful script. Years later, I felt that same sense of wonder when I received my friend Laura’s hand-drawn wedding invitations, with her beautiful lettering inside.

Beautiful handwriting can be both calming and moving, as these examples remind me. On the other hand, terrible handwriting can lead to all kinds of frustrations. I, for example, was once billed for a medical procedure I had declined because the doctor’s handwriting led to a miscommunication. It took months to sort out.

Beyond those practical examples, though, there are many important reasons to integrate handwriting into your learning plans.

To me, the most compelling research is the evidence that handwriting has an impact on learning. Research has shown that handwriting notes leads to cognitive benefits and that early focus on handwriting promotes literacy, among other benefits.

Janet Langley and Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl, two experienced teachers and the authors of The Roadmap to Literacy: A Guide to Teaching Language Arts in Waldorf Schools Grades 1 through 3, promoted their book with a wonderful blog post on handwriting. In it, they discuss why we should continue prioritizing handwriting in this digital age. Much of the article relates specifically to a Waldorf setting, but even if that is not your approach, the first seven sections of the article are still very worth perusing, particularly “The Importance of Handwriting” and “The Ergonomics of Handwriting”, which is followed by specific details of how to improve those ergonomics.

When it comes to distance learning, one of my fears is the lack of handwritten practice for many students. With so much of our learning becoming digital, I worry that students will be missing out on the cognitive benefits of handwriting their work, as well as the additional practice needed to maintain those fine motor skills and to perfect beautiful handwriting.

To be clear, the most essential priority at this time with COVID-19 is to keep children and their families healthy, both mentally and physically, to keep them safe, and to continue to feed (or rebuild) their curiosity and love of learning. Once those needs are met (and only once those needs are met), it’s time to consider how handwriting can be part of their learning.

Recommended Resources

All the benefits are well and good, but how can you begin incorporating handwriting practice into your child’s learning?

Handwriting without Tears

As an elementary school teacher, I found lots of inspiration in the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. I’m thrilled to tell you that they have just made wonderful printable resources available for grades Pre-K through 2nd. Even better, these resources are FREE to download, though you do need to share your email and school information with them to complete the process.

Schoolhouse by the Sea

Though we don’t (yet) offer handwriting worksheets like Handwriting without Tears does (and why bother when such an excellent resource already exists for free, since accessibility is our ultimate goal), our Spelling Challenges are an excellent resource (if I do say so myself) for creative handwriting practice. I especially recommend Write It Both Ways for the cognitive and fine motor benefits of writing; Decorate It for creative practice; Trace It for precision; and Time It for repetition.