At Mendell Primary School we teach the cursive handwriting style from the Foundation Stage. Cursive handwriting teaches pupils to join letters and words as a series of flowing movements and patterns. After detailed research we believe that teaching cursive handwriting from the EYFS upwards is the right option for our children because :
The New 2014 National Curriculum says that children should learn to form all their lower case and capital letters plus digits 0 to 9 by the end of Year 1. They then need to start joining their letters in Year 2. In Year 3, they need to concentrate on increasing the legibility, consistency and quality of their joined handwriting. Throughout Key Stage 2, children need to keep up the quality of their handwriting, and concentrate on increasing their speed.
Children receive daily handwriting input. They are taught all letters in a cursive script, unjoined. However, when teachers are modelling writing in shared writing tasks, they model this in the joined cursive style to ensure children are exposed to both joined and unjoined texts. As soon as the children are ready to learn about digraphs and trigraphs during phonics (for example ‘sh’ or ‘ng’) they learn to join the letters together. Whilst children are encouraged to practise their handwriting during child-initiated activities, a high value is still placed on children’s emergent writing.
Letter formation practise should never inhibit children’s natural impulse for experimental mark making and writing. Explicit teaching of letter formation is taught alongside a large range of activities which encourage the development of both gross and fine motor skills and teach handwriting movements in a fun, multisensory way. There are ‘Fiddly Finger’ sessions taught each day to strengthen the muscles in the hand and wrist to prepare the children for writing. Activities to develop gross motor control, for example rolling hoops and running with a hoop, ribbon movement, chalking, painting on a large scale and using the Interactive White Board are planned during free choice time. In addition to this are activities to develop fine motor control: e.g. tracing, colouring within guide lines and pictures, pattern work, using glue spreaders in small pots, painting with the tips of the fingers, cotton buds, plasticine, threading and using activities on the ipads.
Children receive daily handwriting sessions. Ensuring poor formation is corrected is imperative during this year. Teachers address confusions straight away so that misconceptions do not become embedded. Children who are displaying poor gross or fine motor skills at this stage should be targeted during booster sessions for more intensive support. It is extremely important that teachers note how well children are applying the skills taught during explicit handwriting sessions into their writing in other areas of the curriculum, and insist upon correct formation in every written task, providing extra practise or support where needed. Spellings are closely linked with handwriting activities assisting the children with phonic skills required for successful reading. Children practise their handwriting initially on worksheets, then progressing to handwriting books.
Children continue handwriting sessions, where the cursive style continues to develop. It is imperative that children master correct formation of unjoined letters before they attempt to join.
Children in Key Stage 2 practise handwriting at least 3 times per week. Children are taught cursive letters unjoined initially, and then joins are introduced.
Years 3 and 4:
Handwriting practise is taught at least 3 times per week.
Years 5 and 6:
Handwriting is taught at least once a week. Where individual pupils need additional support this is organised by the class teacher and monitored closely.
General Principles of High Quality Handwriting Teaching: