Dotting I’s and crossing T’s
By JOSEPH STENDER
As students begin another school year, about 30 teachers from the region were back in the classroom participating in a workshop at BlaST Intermediate Unit 17 on proper handwriting techniques and activities in order to provide a strong learning foundation for their young students.
Paula Heinricher, presenter, lead the group of educators in a variety of exercises that showed them techniques and ways to instruct young students on proper handwriting. Heinricher explained that it’s not only important to be able to master the skill, but to do it correctly.
“It is very important that at the preschool level, we build this skill,” Heinricher said.
The first lesson was how to properly hold the writing utensil. Heinricher explained that proper technique requires only three fingers. The index finger points to the point of the pencil, while the thumb supports it on the other side. The middle finger also lends support.
Heinricher added that teaching proper technique is important to avoid bad habits, such as beginning a letter from the bottom. As she explained, it’s much easier to teach good habits from the beginning than to correct them later on after the student has done them for years.
“That will slow them down,” Heinricher said. “It’s hard to unteach bad habits.”
She explained that there are so many additional skills that both help handwriting, as well as depends on it.
A number of the activities focused on the creation of shapes with both crayons and pencils.
This is important in order to train the hand to make the shapes needed to write letters.
Another exercise involved participants creating letters out of wooden pieces.
Heinricher said that it’s not only important for students to properly make the letters, but for them to do it in the right order.
She explained it using the capital letter D as an example.
When making the letter, students should place the straight vertical line first and then the rounded part of it second.
“We have to train and teach them what makes a letter a letter,” Heinricher said.
Songs and drawing also give students the foundation for proper handwriting.
When asked why teachers should include so many different skills and movements in handwriting, Heinricher explained that the skill isn’t something that is strictly done with the hand.
“We’re training not just the hand, but the whole body,” she said.
Lacy Cole, an educator from Wellsboro, explained that she was learning the “essentials” to build the foundation for students.
She added that with so many activities, students will be able to learn while not getting bored with the same thing.