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Hi,

The reception teacher in our unit has been asked to do 10 minutes of handwriting (on sheets) practise everyday, altogether, from the beginning of Reception. They already learn to form the letters through the daily phonics programme.

What are others' thoughts about the appropriateness of this? We have lots of other resources in the CP which support the development of fine motor & gross motor skills.

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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I agree! I think teaching letter formation in phonics is more than enough! I sometimes put laminated letter formation sheets next to the gloop/shaving foam in the builders tray. This half term we have used the handwriting clips from espresso and the children have written the letter shapes on whiteboards. x

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I think that correct formation is important - however I don't think sheets are the best way to go, all the children do are join the dots!

As you say, lots of opportunities for gross and fine motor skills in the areas. I do have a handwriting session with my class twice a week but we focus on the components needed to form letters, curved lines, zigzags etc. We also use a variety of media - chunky chalks, paint, spaghetti, whiteboards. As long as it is purposeful the children love it! Having said that - some children love those worksheets so you could always put some in your writing area.

 

Chickpea xx

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How about sending it home? That is what my son's school does, a sheet goes home a few times a week so that parents are encouraging to sound out letters as they are learnt and to get their children practising their letter formation.

 

I don't think there is anything cruel or offputing per se about asking children to trace over a line to practise their handwriting but I don't think it needs to be a defined part of your daily routine.

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Thanks for all your replies. Surfer - we already do Write Dance and have the penpals scheme but Penpals has been abandoned through the rest of the school! I think we might try a compromise of using penpals in Reception until the summer term. SuzieC8 - the reception children already have phonics sheets sent home with letter formation to practise!

It just seems totally inappropriate to us and unnecessary with all the other things they do that contribute to fine-motor skills and handwriting.

Has anyone got anything evidence-based etc that we could use to back up our side of the argument?

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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I have always been against handwriting done as worksheets, apart from giving them to a few children (either my Year 1s, as have a few weak Y1s each year, or v able Reception) - but only when they are ready for it and when they could write more fluently, and are really keen, but are put off because they are struggling with formation - such as constantly asking how to write a 'd' (for example). Obviously any attempts at letters are celebrated, but some children like to 'do it right', so for them, I have found this works.

 

So this year....... I started doing this with my top few after phonics (which we do in groups, so they had 20 mins of phonics, then when groups swapped, they did their 'sheets' as they call them). They absolutely loved them and although I was only doing it once or twice a week in a no pressure way, they begged for them on other days - strange children!!! So it got to the point that the others wanted them too, and now they all do a sheet after or before phonics. The sheets increase in independency (so only the early ones have dots, although all show (and I recap) correct formation. Their writing has really developed this year and they just love them. I should add that some children began with sand trays, etc, during this time as they just were not ready to do it like this.

 

Feel like I have just had to totally justify that (to myself), but it has helped my children and they have grown in confidence as well as being totally enthusiastic.

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10 minutes is a looong time for young children - my younger son is in Yr 2 and really struggles with the 10 minutes of handwriting every morning.

 

Saying that, there are other issues behind that, and what's caused me to post in this thread is something the occupational therapist said last week - at 7 years and 3 months, he is too set in the (wrong) way he holds his pencil/pen to change it.

 

So... I wouldn't be happy if I had a child in Reception who had to do 10 minutes handwriting every day in case it encouraged bad pencil-holding, but I would be overjoyed at correct pencil-holding practice every day.

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  • 2 months later...

My children love the Nelson Handwriting blue books for Reception, yet we only do workbooks 1 - 3 and leave the 4th one for the 1st term of Y1. They really try their best to do their work neatly and strive to get the green xD fox. (yellow = :( working towards fox, red if... oh, oh, this was a bit difficult :o fox). Yet, if you really want them to use the correct pencil grip and write with good formation, then one needs to work in small groups and have a close supervision, constantly praising for their good efforts. Otherwise, bad habits are later difficult to correct, be it with the pencil grip or letter formation.

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How about sending it home? That is what my son's school does, a sheet goes home a few times a week so that parents are encouraging to sound out letters as they are learnt and to get their children practising their letter formation.

 

sending it home rarely works unless the parent forms letters in the correct order of movements themselves and sits down with the child and watches closely making sure the pencil is held correctly and the child starts in the correct place and moves the pencil in the correct direction. It normally results in reinforcing bad habits...

 

I think teaching correct letter formation is vital but not with worksheets!

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So... I wouldn't be happy if I had a child in Reception who had to do 10 minutes handwriting every day in case it encouraged bad pencil-holding, but I would be overjoyed at correct pencil-holding practice every day.

 

Part of teaching handwriting in reception is teaching how to hold a pencil correctly (and that can take 9 of the 10 mins)

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Part of teaching handwriting in reception is teaching how to hold a pencil correctly (and that can take 9 of the 10 mins)

 

 

So, if you have a child who persists in not holding it correctly, what do you do? The idea to take my son to Occupational therapy came from the Community Peadiatrician when he was in Year 2, not from the school although his Reception teacher knew he had problems with writing in Reception - not that he could not, but that he would not. Of course, we now know that is because it hurt him to hold the pencil as he has some hypermobility.

 

I'm not blaming the Reception teacher - I didn't pick it up either, but in preschool we do not teach handwriting so I don't have the experience with it!

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There is an alternative grip whereby you hold the pencil between the index and middle fingers which allows the pencil to be gripped by the thumb and the 2 fingers in a tripod grip without the thumb wrapping over the top.

 

A writing slope can also help.

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Pencil grip follows a predictable pattern. This develops from:

 

the basic palmar grasp, where the child wraps all his fingers round the pencil and moves his whole arm to make marks,

to the digital finger grasp, where the hand is above the pencil and the child uses the whole arm to manipulate it,

to the tripod grasp, with fingers placed near the tip of the pencil with the thumb opposing the fingers, and movement controlled by the fingers.

 

We teach children how to hold a pencil using a tripod grip (froggy fingers) and whenever the child writes/mark makes with an adult they are reminded ( If a child needs reminding about grip, the ‘pinch and swing’ start is recommended. This method requires the child to pick up the pencil by the writing tip. While holding the tip, the child swings the top of the pencil over and onto the back of the hand between the thumb and index finger. This is the natural position for writing. ) how to hold the pencil until it becomes automatic we do lots of finger exercises

 

Activities to develop pencil grip:

 

* Playdough – pinching, squeezing with thumb and forefinger. Who can make the longest snake? (I'm eagerly anticipating Alistair's Dough Gym book in the future?)

* Threading – beads, pasta, straws. Let’s all make a necklace.

* Picking up small objects – use tweezers and pipettes/eye droppers. How many peas can you put in this pot?

* Finger rhymes – stretching, curling fingers.

* Water play – using spray toys and spray bottles. Let’s go outside and water the flowers.

* Craft activities – glue sticks and paint brushes. Make a collage with lots of fine papers and decorate it with sequins.

* Icing cakes – using a plastic dispenser to push and squeeze out the icing.

* Strengthening activities – swinging from the climbing frame or grasping to climb and crawl.

and generally "nagging"

 

As Susan says a quad grip is considered to be as effective as a tripod grip in writing

 

http://home.earthlink.net/~lmlk/id1.html

 

I don't think Y2 is too late to correct a poor grip but certainly the older the child gets the harder it is to change

 

http://www.sacsa.sa.edu.au/ATT/%7B21AB4BA7...ParentGuide.pdf

Edited by Marion
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