What is handwriting?
For starters, what is handwriting? It might sound self-explanatory, but let’s break the writing down in detail.
Handwriting is writing using a pen, pencil, digital stylus, or another instrument. The art, skill, or manner of the script is called penmanship.
Handwriting includes both print and cursive styles, and it is separate from formal calligraphy or typeface. Because each person’s writing is unique and evolves differently, it can be used to verify a document’s writer.
What are the different types of handwriting?
Since we’ve got the question of ‘what is handwriting?’ figured out, let’s explore different kinds of handwriting.
Although handwriting is unique to each writer, three different styles can be divided. Children will be taught these at varying stages of their primary levels of education. These include cursive, pre-cursive, and print styles.
Cursive handwriting is a form of writing in which the letters are connected. It’s the opposite of block letters, where the pen lifts between every letter. It can also be called joined-up handwriting or script handwriting, although referring to cursive as script handwriting is less common.
Cursive can be further divided into three subcategories of handwriting. These are looped, italic, and connected:
- Looped cursive handwriting is when some letters are written with ‘loops’ to make joining the notes easier. In this style of cursive, all the letters should be connected.
- Italic cursive doesn’t use looped joins. Joining the letters g, j, q, or y (and others) is discouraged. The ‘Italic’ in its name refers to the fact that the handwriting style originated in Italy, not because it’s slanted like an italic font.
- Connected cursive writing is the origin of the primary cursive writing method. It was much faster to write in connected cursive than in other styles, as you didn’t need to lift the pen so often.
Pre-cursive handwriting is the transition between printing (unjoined) letters and joining all letters in cursive handwriting. In pre-cursive handwriting, children add lead-ins and lead-outs to notes, ensuring the letters start and finish in the correct place for writing to be joined.
Print is a style where letters appear to be disconnected. It can also be called block letters, print scripts, or manuscripts. These styles are often used to write on official forms. This is because the cursive style of writing is harder to read. Also, since the letters are joined together in cursive, they don’t fit as neatly into separate boxes as block letters.
Children are usually taught to write in print before learning cursive writing.
What is handwriting made up of?
While we’ve already answered the question of ‘what is handwriting?’, it’s essential to understand that many different characteristics go into creating handwriting.
Those who study graphology (the study of handwriting) have found that over 5,000 personality traits can be linked to a person’s writing. Because of this, understanding pupils’ handwriting styles could help you understand their learning style and how they process information during lessons.
So, if you’re still wondering ‘what is handwriting?’, here’s a short list containing some of the essential features of handwriting:
- Handwriting size: The size of letters might reveal whether a pupil is shy or outgoing. If they write with large letters that go over the top line, they’re likely to be outgoing and confident. However, pupils who write using small and close-together letters then pupils may be shy and unlikely to speak out in class. Whichever pupils are more comfortable with, it’s essential to help them develop consistency in their writing size.
- Pen pressure: Putting a lot or a little amount of pressure on the page can say a lot about the stress levels of a pupil. If they apply heavy pressure when using a pen or pencil, this is a sign that they’re committed to their learning. However, it can also signify that they’re prone to feeling stressed and pressured by their workload. On the other hand, light pressure denotes sensitivity and empathy.
- Attention to detail: Aspects of handwriting, such as dotting their ‘i’s and crossing their ‘t’s, can also say a lot about a pupil’s learning style. Those placing the dot high above theirs ‘i’s have imaginative personalities, and those writing it off to the left tend to procrastinate. On the other hand, organized and emphatic people place the drop firmly above the ‘i’ when writing by hand.
- Letter spacing: Some people space their letters out, while some people’s writing is written close together. There should be equal spacing between letters in the word, with a finger space between individual words.
- Pen lifts: This refers to letter separation and joins when writing by raising the cell of the page or keeping a continuous flow. Children must know when to lift the pen off the pen and when to join letters as part of cursive handwriting practice.
Eight handwriting rules for great handwriting
Now that we know ‘what handwriting is?’ and what handwriting skills pupils will be expected to develop, let’s explore how you can help them. Here are eight top tips for helping your pupils to perfect their handwriting in cursive and print:
- Good posture is essential for cursive writing. Encourage children to sit with their feet flat on the floor, straight backs (no heads on the table), and relaxed shoulders.
- Find the best writing tool. Try cursive handwriting with felt tips and gel pens, which have an excellent, fluid delivery of ink.
- Keep up the momentum. There’s often a big focus on handwriting in years one and two, but later on, it might get little attention. It’s essential to keep up cursive writing to ensure that your pupils continue to develop and maintain handwriting skills. Keep doing short handwriting exercises as your child ages 3 and 4 to help them develop speed and fluency.
- Slow down. When children rush through their work, their writing may get messy. Encourage your pupils to write slowly and deliberately to ensure every letter is formed accurately.
- Practice capital letters. It’s important to remember that every letter in the alphabet is taught twice, and every pupil should be able to form both the lower and upper case versions of every note (not to mention upper case letters are often written slightly more prominent on the page).
- Master pencil grip. You should make sure to teach pupils a 3-finger pencil grip. Again, this helps children put equal weight on all three fingers and helps develop their fine motor skills.
- Learn line adherence: Line adherence is the pupil’s ability to write along the line on the page. This is essential for neat and uniform handwriting, and it includes proper placement of certain letters on the bottom or baseline (for example, a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z). In addition, it’s essential to ensure that ‘tall’ letters (for example, b, d, f, h, l, t) touch the top of the line and that ‘go under’ letters (for example, g, j, p, q, y) go under the bottom line.
- Perfect spacing: Handwriting spacing means printing letters nearby without excessive gaps, touching, or overlapping letters. There should also be an appropriate space between words in a sentence.