Nurturing The Love Of Writing - Head's Blog

Posted on: 19/04/2018

There has been recent debate in the news on the detrimental effects of touch screen devices on the development of young children’s handwriting skills. 

Over the past ten years there has been a rapid increase in the use of ipads and other touch screen devices and young babies and toddlers are amazing parents with their incredible use of swiping actions as they navigate the apps on their parents’ phones or tablets.

Personally, I am saddened when I see youngsters in restaurants glued to tablets while the adults engage in social conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I am not against the use of technology! Indeed, some of the games and apps being developed for young children are super for encouraging the development of certain skills. However, recent research has seen a decline in children’s handwriting skills caused by the lack of dexterity and movement skills needed to hold a pencil.

Traditional craft activities such as playdoh, drawing, painting, cutting and sticking, threading beads or doing jigsaws seem to be disappearing with the influx of technology. These activities can play a crucial part in developing the fine motor skills needed by children as they grow, including their handwriting skills.

Handwriting skills are important and I am sure that many of you will fully support me in this. There are some people who feel that it does not matter if you are able to have good handwriting or not as the use of technology increases. However, I am pleased to say that here at St. Helen's College we pride ourselves on teaching the children handwriting skills and there is great excitement as they work towards gaining their ‘pen licence’ in Middle School.  I am sure many of you were impressed at the quality of the handwriting and writing on display at Exhibition Day recently.

Over the Easter holidays I was touched as I received several postcards from children who had written to their classes from their holiday travels.  I urge you as parents to continue to encourage all of your children to take pride and joy in the art of handwriting. I hope that many of our children still write thank you letters to family and friends for gifts that they receive on special occasions.  You could also encourage your children to keep a diary and/or reflections book, to compile written fact files or to have a go at writing stories...writing should be enjoyable, relevant and fun!

Our Year 3 pupils and Year 6 pupils have the opportunity to write penpal letters to children in Spain and France – and so practise not only their handwriting, but also writing in a foreign language!

I have fond memories of writing activities as a child.  I kept a diary from about the age of 8 right through to my teenage years!  I recently found these in my mother’s attic and spent hours reminiscing, laughing and cringing about some of what I had written!

There was a magazine called ‘Blue Jeans’ which had penpal pages and for over three years I wrote to a lovely girl in Zambia who lived in a convent school. Sadly I have lost touch with her but the joy of receiving her air mail letters I still remember. I was fortunate to keep in touch with my childhood French penpal and met up with her and her family on a holiday to France some 20 years later.

My husband seems to have forgotten that we spent several months in different countries many moons ago when we were dating – but I still have all the lovely handwritten letters we wrote to each other!

These are all examples of such special memories, all kept on paper for years to come, and of relationships built by the power of the pen.  And all this before the influx of technology.

Last term we discussed how we need to model reading to children and to be seen by our children reading a book for pleasure, relaxing and enjoying texts. The same could also be said for writing.

So this term, I challenge you all to share the love of writing and to show your children that you still value the skill of handwriting. Write a letter to someone who you have not seen for a while, start a reflective journal (these are really useful for the work place!), or write with your children on a shared writing activity: a poem, a shared family travel journal over the duration of a holiday, or a story/play that you create together. 

Happy writing!

Mrs. Drummond