Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Handwriting in the Digital Age

I found this article to be beyond disturbing, but not for the obvious reasons.   Digital apps for handwriting are fun, but they are not a substitute for real teaching.

The reason the four year old in the article didn't want to write is because four year olds should not be writing!!!

Writing should not be introduced before the age of six, despite what anyone tells you.  Most children simply do not have the physical, visual or cognitive perceptual ability to do such fine, precise work.  Forcing them to do so before the necessary subskills are in place sets them up for a lifetime of bad habits, including slumping, using too much tension in their hands and arms to make up for the fact that they don't have fine motor control in their fingers, and dysfunctional grasps on their pencils.

All of these things make the act of writing physically uncomfortable and therefore unpleasant for the child.  Why not wait until he's ready to tackle such an important, complex task?

When I emailed the author of the article to tell her so, she countered with the idea that these days, with all of the digital options out there precluding the need to write by hand, if one waits until the child is at the advanced age of six, it may never happen.

Oh really?  What grammar school does not require its children to write in class by hand, all day, every day?  In New York, where I practice, all of them.  So why aren't they teaching the children how to do it correctly???

People, please.  Stop the madness!!!

1 comment:

Amy Waldhauer said...

I train in the martial arts. In my experience as an assistant instructor in the children's class, you cannot push kids to perform above ability without disastrous results. A 4 year old cannot perform as well as an 8 year old. If you work with them on their level instead, pushing them to excel according to their ability right now, you can get great results. We have many examples of kids who began at age 4 looking like, well, 4 year olds who now at 7 look really sharp (again, when they are compared to the other 7 year olds).

I think that handwriting for 4 year olds is silly. You will just frustrate the kid and just make the job harder when you have to teach handwriting later.