Principles of Teaching Handwriting

The illustration shows ancient forms of writing in the Middle East. It is taken from the Curriculum Introduction included with our Biblical Studies books.

A difficult subject made more difficult by computers. What should be handwritten and what should be typed? Some colleges and companies require a handwritten essay for admission/employment to ensure that it is not plagiarized and to make sure the applicant is capable of writing legibly by hand. The skill is still necessary. No matter how much fun it is, or how much easier it is, to write on the computer, the student needs to learn to write well by hand. The only real question is how to do it?

We recommend traditional handwriting drills used probably for centuries, emphasis on legibility, neatness and consistency. Rough drafts of every assignment should be written by hand, up through senior level in high school. Once again, the skill can be verified, and plagiarism is far less likely.

Handwriting will be more useful and more enjoyable if it is combined with interesting assignments. While beginning writers will need to practice correct pencil and pen holding and formation of individual letters, do all you can to make the activity less dull with entertaining or colorful illustrations they can identify, word games, and perhaps interesting backgrounds for their writing papers. Simple stickers or correlated craft projects, different media in which to practice (chalk slates, wax tablets, clay, sewing cards) , even cutting letters out of paper and gluing them onto cards can help reinforce correct shapes and neatness.)

Older students can correlate handwriting with poetry or essay assignments, emphasizing making the words look attractive on the paper with illustrations and different colors or textures of papers. You might even want them to learn calligraphy or handwriting for mechanical drafting. Though these skills have largely been replaced by computer design programs, they still teach discipline, neatness and beauty in handwriting that can carry over into life.

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