The first wi-fi connected iPad was released on 3 April 2010. One year later we read in the Daily Mail of a one-year-old baby being right at home tapping and swiping an iPad but being confused by a paper magazine.
As the years passed by, it is getting clearer that today’s children are learning to swipe before they learn to write. And, in this age of technology where children lug an iPad to school instead of a bag of books, we find that increasingly, keyboarding skills are taking precedence over handwriting skills. Can we still say that learning to write is still a task that children must master early in order to be able to participate fully in school? The answer is a definite YES!
Research has determined that there is a link between learning the letters by hand (writing) and processing visual letters (reading). In the research, two groups of children were taught to copy letters either by hand or by typing. It was found that handwriting contributes to better visual recognition of letters than typing.
This concept is not actually new. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) observed that children as young as two years of age were interested in tracing sandpaper letters and that many children learnt to write first. Today, her Montessori Method does, in fact, teach writing before reading.
Here are some good reasons why children should still learn handwriting in this age of technology.
Writing is a workout for the growing brains.
In their early years, children’s brains are growing at an extremely rapid rate. Writing requires letter recognition, fine motor skills and some logical skills to decide which stroke goes first. Helping children to write first gives them the best brain workout they can get. While writing is very hard for little kids, overcoming the challenge is very good for learning.
Writing helps kids to ‘own’ their work.
Reading is using something that somebody else has written. Children take greater pride and have greater satisfaction in showing off something that they have produced themselves.
Writing helps children to crack the reading code.
Children can be taught to write the sounds associated with letters to form words. This is a great way to learn phonics for reading i.e. moving from sound to symbol.
Early writing boosts children’s confidence for reading
Children often read the words that they write first – the letters formed may not be perfect and the spelling may not always be correct, but children often remember what they have put on paper and can ‘read’ the word.
Writing helps children to learn the conventions of print.
As adults, we often go through the motion of reading and writing without thinking too much about it. However, there are many concepts that children have to learn – for example, words go from left to right and top to bottom; there are spaces between words and different punctuation marks mean different things.
Through our years of experience with children, Equipped4Success4Kids has found that writing is one of the best ways to teach beginners how to read. It is for this reason that our Foundations program does not begin with ‘a’ when we teach the alphabet. This is a proven syllabus which was over 7 years in the making.
Most very young children are able to sing the Alphabet Song but very few can actually recognize the correct alphabet on its own. By teaching handwriting and moving away from the usual sequence of starting with ‘a’, we ensure that your child really learns the alphabet. You can have a look at our programs here. The Reading, Writing and Arithmetic Year 1 downloadable syllabus is free so please do share the link with your friends.