Handwriting Part One

I am a homeschooling mom who is teaching first grade (yikes!) beginning this year. I am relying on The Roadmap to Literacy to help me plan my lessons and teach the material. I am wondering how to teach the proper way to write the letters, because I am not sure that how I write them is the “right” way. 

I read the Englishland container story intro but is there more (for all the letters?). If not, can you recommend a good resource for teaching formation of the letters?

I understand you have two questions: 1) You would like more information on proper letter formation so you can see if you are teaching correct letter formation; and 2) You would like additional resources for introducing the right way to print each letter (e.g., stories).

These are good questions.

Proper Letter Formation

A good letter formation chart should enable you to confirm that you are forming each letter correctly. 

An easy way to check your handwriting is to get a letter formation chart that shows the proper way to form each letter and then compare your printing against it. For example, in The Roadmap to Literacy, several scripts are recommended, including D'Nealian. I do not know which script you have selected, but I have attached a link that shows letter formation charts for D'Nealian printing (for both right-handed and left-handed writers). Just use the link below and scroll down. 

https://cdn.thisreadingmama.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/DHWC-TRM.pdf

As you scroll down through this link, you fill find several letter formation charts–one for right-handed students and one for left-handed. Use the letter formation chart to determine whether you are forming the letters correctly (i.e., make sure you form each line in a letter in the order and direction indicated). If you are not forming the letter correctly, be sure to correct your printing before you teach your child to print it. Once you have done so, you should be good to go.

Additional Resources for Teaching Letter Formation

There are many free and low-cost resources available online, depending on which font you have decided to teach. I have included a good resource for D'Nealian in the link above. However, I don't think this is what you are looking for. It sounds as if you would like a story from Englishland for each letter of the alphabet. If so, let me attempt to dissuade you. 

When you teach handwriting, you need only do the story from Englishland for the original introduction of handwriting. Then, for subsequent letters, you can show your child how to form the letters (with a little description based on the language from the story) followed immediately by a handout with a visual aid showing the letter and the little arrows indicating which line to form first, second, third and in which direction (see the handouts in the link above). That is all you need do. Follow up with lots of practice that involves handwriting such as Kid Writing, symbol imagery exercises, spelling, letter dictation, etc. 

There are many reasons not to give a story for each letter's formation:

1. Balance Memory and Imagination: The main reason is the need to balance memory and imagination. Steiner claims that having too much of one or the other is unhealthy for the students. This is a topic I discussed at length in the sequel, Continuing the Journey to Literacy (Militzer-Kopperl 2020, 81-84). Consult the sequel for a full discussion.

2. Avoid Story Indigestion: Another reason is story indigestion. Waldorf contains a lot of stories. Too many stories over the course of the week leads to story indigestion. Janet alluded to this concern in The Roadmap to Literacy (Langley and Militzer-Kopperl, 473). Avoiding overloading your child with unnecessary stories. Save the stories for the initial introduction of a topic.

3. Stories are Only for the Initial Introduction of Handwriting: Finally, a story for printing every letter of the alphabet is overkill. Once students get the idea, it is not necessary to keep giving them stories to introduce handwriting. They are ready to move on. Some students prefer to teach themselves how to write each letter by looking at the diagram on the handout. Others prefer to have you describe each stroke. Using both approaches is good for a class, but since you are homeschooling, you can see which approach your child prefers and tailor your instruction accordingly. (If your child prefers both approaches, use both. It will provide a bit of redundancy which can prove reassuring for melancholic students and/or those who are unsure of themselves.)  

Conclusion

After the initial introduction of handwriting from the story Englishland, students should have the general idea–especially if you use the original language of the story in your description of how to form subsequent letters. The three above-mentioned reasons are why it is good to do a story for the original introduction of handwriting but not for how to print each letter of the alphabet.

If you child is still struggling with learning to print letters in the middle of first grade, please let me know. That would be a red flag for one or more possible remedial issues. Some of the handouts Janet provided from Brain Gym could then prove especially beneficial, depending on what is going on. In addition, students may have immaturities in their hands that might make it difficult to hold a pencil. (See my website “Renewal of Literacy” for a video showing some exercises to do. https://renewalofliteracy.com/videos/#FreeVideos.)

If you give more information, I would be happy to provide more specific guidance. Thank you for your questions. I hope this information helps.

About the Author Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl

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