Ever since Jasmine started school, she really struggled with handwriting. The development of the fine motor skills required for a good pencil grip and consequently good writing were quite delayed. Consequently, she has had pretty poor writing: letters poorly formed, poor spacing between words and inappropriate use of the lines on the paper.
Given all the other challenges we were contending with, I left the handwriting to one side as I figured that soon she will learn how to touch type and the need for beautiful handwriting will gradually fade away.
I did not really appreciate how important handwriting is in the early stages of learning. On visiting her classroom, I saw the beautiful handwriting of other kids proudly displayed on the walls and was shocked at how poor Jasmine’s was by comparison. Again, I did nothing about it as I felt it was important to prioritise her reading skills instead.
Towards the end of Year 2, Jasmine really started to complain about her handwriting – she felt (and it was indeed very true) that her handwriting was the worst in the class, that her work was never displayed up on the walls and that she felt “stupid” for not being able to write as well as others. It was when she started to talk about being “stupid” that I really began to appreciate the impact this had on her already fragile self-confidence.
I’d heard of a handwriting specialist that lived not far from us and over the summer, decided to tackle Jasmine’s handwriting.
Jasmine went twice a week for 45 minutes and did about 10 minutes of practice a day. She was initially excited, then rapidly moved onto complaining that it was “too hard” and the teacher was “too strict”. We persevered and she has just finished the 30 stage course.
Her writing bears absolutely no resemblance to how it was 8 weeks ago and she is delighted that she can write pretty much the same as other kids in her class. Her handwriting specialist took a photo of her “before” and “after” and put it on twitter and Jasmine was delighted to be, in her words, “famous on the world wide web”.
The reality is that Jasmine will learn to touch type as soon as is feasibly possible, but working on improving her handwriting now, has meant that she feels “normal” on this dimension, and it is one less thing undermining her confidence. The smile on her face when she achieved her handwriting certificate was the biggest ever and the consequent boost in her confidence is priceless. Money well spent.
Before and after pictures below.