A study Oxford Open Learning ran recently found that children are writing a lot less than previous generations and many parents say that they don’t think handwriting is important anymore. The findings were eye-opening, with almost three-quarters of children saying that they don’t enjoy writing with a pen or pencil, so more encouragement is needed for them to write at home.
We spoke to Amanda McLeod, Vice Chair at the National Handwriting Association, who suggests that technology could be the answer, not the problem, if used tactically.
Amanda says: “We know that handwriting can really benefit a child’s development and in primary school, children are writing over 50% of the time. Many schools are introducing more technology into the classroom and using software to help teach children to write and develop their own writing style.
“There are many ways to encourage writing outside of the classroom. For those children who prefer using technology rather than pen and paper, there are some great apps that can further their development, especially if used on a tablet with a stylus pen. The stylus acts as a pen/pencil and is a fantastic way for children to practice the motion of using a pen in a fun and creative way.”
Greg Smith, Oxford Open Learning’s head of operations, has given his top six tips to encourage your child to write more:
“With these types of things, they take time, so ensure that you are available to help your child when they need it. By prioritising regular time throughout the week for handwriting exercises, you will help them to feel like they have a set routine to improve their writing skills.”
“Think about your child’s favourite things and look to incorporate them into their writing time. From writing stories inspired by their favourite book or television character, there are many ways to get their creative juices flowing.”
“Keeping a journal or diary is a great way to encourage your child to practice writing daily and can be an expressive way to communicate their thoughts or feelings. It’s a fun and creative activity that can be introduced into their daily routine.”
“Writing can often seem like a chore to children, so what better way to make it more engaging than by turning it into a game. Get them to search for items within the home, and then once found, get them to write the word out on paper.”
“Technology plays a huge part in our child’s life and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s only going to get more prevalent. There’s a plethora of apps now available to develop your child’s writing skills so make the most of these fun and engaging tools.”
“In this day and age, writing letters has become a thing of the past. To help engage your child in writing more at home, encourage them to write letters to their friends or family. It can be an exciting hobby, especially if they receive letters back.”
“Similar to a reading nook, create a dedicated space within the home for all things writing. This area of the home will help children to be less distracted when practicing their writing skills.”
“A vast number of children simply don’t enjoy handwriting and others may find it a difficult task, so don’t forget to shout about all their little wins when it comes to improving their skills.”
Writing skills are valuable throughout life, and courses such as Oxford Open Learning’s English Literature GCSE programme can help you further your development.