Does Frisco ISD include direct handwriting instruction in the elementary curriculum?
Yes. Ten to fifteen minutes of daily handwriting instruction is included in grades K-3. Handwriting instruction is reinforced in grades 4 and 5.
Handwriting Without Tears is the district-wide handwriting resource. Implementation of this program began in August 2010. The Handwriting Without Tears program includes a consumable handwriting workbook in grades K-3. The curriculum involves simple, multi-sensory lessons designed to support all learning styles. The program’s unique materials and appealing workbooks are designed to eliminate problems with letter formation, reversals, legibility and sentence spacing. Visit the following website for additional information.
Does handwriting need to be taught in a digital world?
Handwriting instruction is beneficial beyond the practical standpoint of legibility. MRI scans of children’s brains have shown that writing by hand activates parts of the brain associated with language development. Recent research indicates that writing by hand improves letter and shape learning as well as well as idea expression and composition. Unlike pressing on a keyboard, handwriting promotes a deep knowledge of letters that links reading and spelling understanding.
Competence in handwriting also promotes higher quality written work. As a student becomes more fluent in handwriting, they are then able to write with automaticity which in turn allows the student to devote more mental energy to the content of the writing at hand. Just as fluency in reading promotes comprehension of text, fluency in writing promotes thoughtful reflection in writing since the writer’s thought process is freed up to focus primarily on the content of the written matter.
A study completed at Indiana University found that children who had practiced writing by hand showed more enhanced neural activity than the children who simply looked at letters. Manually manipulating and drawing letters requires the execution of sequential strokes whereas typing a letter on a keyboard simply involves touching a key. Additional information about this research study and additional studies were cited in the Wall Street Journal on October 5, 2010. This article may be accessed through the following link.
When will my child learn cursive handwriting?
In Frisco ISD cursive handwriting is introduced using instructional materials during the latter part of the second semester of second grade. Third grade is the targeted year for deep level direct cursive handwriting instruction. Grades 4 and 5 are considered reinforcement years. The expectation identified in the English Language Arts Texas Essential Knowledge and skills is that by the end of third grade:
“Students are expected to write legibly in cursive script with spacing between words in a sentence.
My 5th grade child writes some letters in cursive and some in manuscript. What should I do to correct this issue?
As children become more adept with handwriting and acquire more experience in using both manuscript and cursive, they commonly begin to “customize” their style. By the middle school years it is common to find that children develop a unique handwriting style. Legibility is the goal, and as long as the student’s handwriting is legible, this approach should not be a concern. If one were to look at a sampling of adult handwriting, unique personal styles would be evident.
I see some printed material in classrooms that is not written in the Handwriting without Tears model. Won’t my child be confused?
Readers become accustomed to seeing a variety of print and font styles in the world. Although during instruction it is important that a consistent model be presented as students practice specific letters and strokes, it is also important that students gain experience in reading a variety of handwriting styles. Books used daily in classrooms are written using a variety of fonts and styles. Experience reading a variety of printed styles is an advantage.
How does handwriting skill impact writing composition and spelling skills?
Handwriting fluency positively impacts an individual’s writing composition and spelling. When letter formation and spelling are achieved with automaticity, the brain can focus on the composition aspect of writing. The writer is free to focus on the written composition itself. Students who “struggle to retrieve letters from memory, to reproduce them on the page, and to scale them to other letters have less attention available to spend on spelling, planning, and effectively expressing intended meanings” (Schlagal, 2007).
“Best Practices in Spelling and Handwriting: by Bob Schlagal in Best Practices in Writing Instruction, Steve Graham, Charles A. MacArthur, and Jill fitzgerald, eds. Copyright 2007 by Guillford Publications, Inc.