Handwriting matters, especially to young visual learners. With the increase in keyboards, handwriting can seem less and less important, but that is false. There are significant benefits to writing by hand; the better visual students write the better they learn. Visual learners can struggle to keep up with what’s being said in the classroom because it takes them a long time to write notes, so the better they write the more they can keep up with what they’re supposed to be learning. Regular practice helps young writers develop mastery and gain a level of unconscious competency that allows them to focus on their classroom work.
If good handwriting is so important, it seems nature would have made it easy for visual learners to write well. It should be natural. Even easy. But it’s not. The physical act of writing is slow, cumbersome and frustrating because writing is about words, letters and linear thinking, quite the opposite of the pictures and movies running through visual kids minds. Visual thinking is fast, rich and multi-dimensional. When it comes time to write, visual learners get bogged down by the slow speed of writing… they just don’t want to, and when they do, their technique can leave much to be desired.
So knowing how important good handwriting is, what can you do to help?
Draw, draw, draw – Never underestimate the value of time spent drawing. The act of drawing has profound value and impact, especially for visual kids. Visual kids like to draw. They need art. They need to make pictures. So the most natural way to get them writing and more comfortable with pencil and paper is to encourage their art. Whether it’s doodling or drawing, their pincher grasp and fine motor skills will continue to develop, as they gain endurance and patience. Most of all, the confidence they have while drawing will begin to flow into their handwriting.
Practice, practice, practice – Writing and handwriting is too important a task to be left to the classroom teacher alone. There are too many other things to get done in a school day and not enough time for kids to practice like they need too. That means writing at home. It doesn’t have to be a major project; it’s practice doing what they’re doing at school. You need some lined paper, with the right size lines for their age, and a few minutes a day for your kids to write.
Write, write, write – Kids need everyday opportunities to write. Yes, they need to practice their handwriting on lined paper, but they also need to just write. Keep different kinds of paper on hand for them; notepaper, note cards, writing paper, journals, drawing paper and sketchbooks. But along with that find other things for them to write on. Hang a dry erase board in the kitchen for lists and reminders. Use a large paper calendar for the family. Have scrap paper for notes. Keep colorful markers and pens on hand and get them writing!