Handwriting

Bradford Academy Handwriting Policy

Rationale

At Bradford Academy, all the children are introduced to cursive handwriting from the start. We believe this raises standards in Early Years which will have an impact throughout the whole school, developing confidence, accuracy and fluency and improved presentation.

We believe that cursive style helps:

  • to minimise confusion for the child as every letter starts on the line with an entry stroke and leads out with an exit stroke
  • with the flow of Cursive Writing as letters naturally flow into each other, it is difficult to write separate letters without joining
  • from spacing between words as the child develops whole word awareness
  • develop a child’s visual memory
  • all children’s writing skills regardless of academic ability.

All children in Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 write with a pencil, although pupils in Key Stage 2 are introduced to ink pens.
Aims

  • To provide equal opportunities for all pupils to achieve success in handwriting
  • To produce clear, concise, legible handwriting
  • To present work to a variety of audiences neatly
  • To develop accuracy and fluency
  • To help children recognise that handwriting is a form of communication and as such should be considered important in order for it to be effective
  • To promote confidence and self-esteem
  • To encourage children to take pride in their work
  • To build in cross curricular links to broaden experience
  • To help children recognise that handwriting as a life-long skill and will a fundamental element of all forms of written communication throughout their lives
  • To display neatly presented work around the school as a model of excellence for others to aspire to

 Development of learning and teaching handwriting

 

Early Years Foundation Stage

On entry, Early Years Foundation Stage children are involved in a variety of activities to develop essential pre-writing skills in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.

Activities to develop gross motor control, for example rolling hoops and running with a hoop, ribbon movement, chalking, painting on large scale, using the interactive whiteboards, baking and making playdough as we mix materials with a large spoon or whisk etc. Other activities which develop fine motor control include: tracing, colouring within guide lines and pictures (not this colouring), pattern work, using glue spreaders in small pots, painting with the tips of the fingers, cotton buds, plasticine, threading, lots of games and activities involving tweezers etc. all these develop spatial awareness.

Children develop the basic handwriting patterns found in letter formation in the order taught in Letters and Sounds.  Children are introduced to actual letter formation in conjunction with the introduction of phonic skills.

Sounds are closely linked in handwriting patterns and the children’s visual awareness of the words is harnessed e.g. ‘cat’, ‘hat’.  Practise of particular High Frequency Words helps to develop good visual and writing habits e.g. ‘the’, ‘and’.  By the end of the Reception year all children will have been introduced to all letters of the alphabet through patterns as shown above and introduced to more independent writing.  When ready, children practise their names in cursive script by tracing over in the first instance and then underneath and then using motor memory.
 Years 1-6

The cursive style continues to develop through close links with the Primary Strategy, Letters and Sounds, Read/Write Inc, spelling and awareness of grammar are all taught through handwriting practise and as fluency and accuracy develops, pupils are encouraged to write with an ink pen.

Handwriting is timetabled in short, regular sessions and where possible is integrated across the curriculum, e.g. practicing scientific vocabulary.

All handwriting activities are undertaken as class activities for the following reasons:

  • To develop effective and efficient pen hold
  • To develop the habit of concentration which is crucial to good handwriting
  • To place a strong emphasis on the insistence of perfection
  • To provide the class teacher with the opportunity to help assess individuals’ progress and monitor areas requiring reinforcement.

Lessons usually begin with a warm up activity (e.g. exercising hands/fingers to music and air writing), including writing patterns or phonemes, which is led by the teacher modelling writing on the board. Children copy into their books, applying the same techniques, closely monitored by the teacher. In some lessons, it is also appropriate to practise speed writing, which also helps them to think quickly and remember spellings. Handwriting books have coloured lines to assist with accuracy and consistency in size and form, although other exercise books are either blank, squared or one line only.

Use of ICT

All teachers use the interactive whiteboard in direct teaching: use of the lined writing templates are an essential tool for learning, as the teacher can demonstrate the correct letter formation and joins clearly to the whole class at once if necessary.

Handwriting and Reading

In school, children are exposed to both cursive and print styles as well as commercial print. They develop awareness for reading in print and writing in cursive side by side in their learning, such as prompts around the classroom/school – teachers lettering, labels on display/teaching aids e.g. alphabet on tables and through teachers modelling of writing.

Left Handed Children

Each left handed child is identified and closely monitored by the class teacher to ensure success. The following guidelines are useful to help left-handed children.

Guidelines for writing left handed:

  • the writing surface and chair are suitable for the child’s own height
  • the child sits towards the left of their partner leaving plenty of space for writing on the left hand side of his/her – mid line (this allows maximum space for arm movement)
  • the writing paper is to the left of the child’s body midline
  • the paper is tilted up to 32 degrees in a clockwise direction
  • a writing tool which moves smoothly across the paper is used
  • the paper is supported with the right hand
  • the writing forearm is parallel with the paper edge as the child writes
  • the writing tool is held sufficiently far from its point to ensure that the child can see what he/she is writing.

Children with difficulties

Sometimes some children may experience difficulties but this is often due to coordination problems or adapting a left-handed style.

Activities to develop ‘gross motor skills’ can be promoted as these will assist fine motor skills, as will plenty of pre-writing activities to loosen up the wrist and upper arm.

Older children needing additional support are given short bursts of handwriting practice, one-to-one with a Teaching Assistant, as often as possible. Use of a small whiteboard and pen is often the most successful aid as they are less restrictive and enable the child to feel inhabited.

Resources

Teachers use the Letter Join Website as the scheme and print and photocopy masters.
Monitoring

The presentation of all work is monitored through termly work and book scrutiny, involving the leadership team.

KEY STAGE TEACHING

NURSERY

  • Sit in the correct position and hold a pencil correctly to allow fluid movement of the nib.
  • Improve fine and gross motor skills by enjoying drawing pre-cursive patterns in a variety of writing materials such as modelling clay, air writing, sand trays, felt pens, crayons, pencils, IWB, iPads/tablets.
  • Understand the language need to describe pencil movements in preparation of letter formation.

Reception

  • Hold a pencil in an effective manner for writing and be encouraged to correct any errors in grip or stature.
  • Understand that letters are written on a base line and that all cursive letters ‘start on the line’ and ‘end with a hook’.
  • Begin to form some recognisable joined-up cursive letters, capital letters and numerals.
  • Have an understanding of writing their own name.
  • Understanding different shaped letter families.

Key Stage 1

  • Write legibly using upper and lower case letters with correct joins.
  • Ensure that letters sit on the base line and are consistent in size with ascenders and descenders that are the correct length and formation.
  • Leave the correct space between words.
  • Form capital letters and use where appropriate.
  • Form numerals that are consistent in size and sit on the base line.
  • Begin to form printed letters and understand when they are to be used.
  • Improve the speed of writing and begin to write automatically so promoting creativity in independent writing.

Key Stage 2

Improve quality, speed and stamina of handwriting.

  • Quality: Ensure letters are consistently sized with equal word spacing and that ascenders and descenders are parallel and do not touch words on the lines above and below.
  • Speed: Improve speed of handwriting to allow creative writing to take precedence over the task of handwriting and be able to take ‘quick notes’ at a faster pace.
  • Stamina: Have the strength and mobility to be able to write for longer periods of time without fatigue.

Have full knowledge and ability of the different forms of handwriting for different purposes:

  • Neat, joined, cursive letters for writing passages and large amounts of text, lists and letters.
  • Printed or capital letters for posters, notices, headings, labelling, and form filling.
  •  Speedy handwriting for note-taking and dictation where neatness is not as important and shortcuts, such as + instead of ‘and’, can be used.