I received this great message - and then see my response!
We are launching a whole school blitz on handwriting using your model. I'm in touch with the font company and I've shared info with parents via my literacy newsletter.
Staff and Ta have had some training and looked at your free resources ( thank you ).
I wondered if you had any other top tips and where you were based as to the possibility of some handwriting training by yourself in the future?
I am absolutely thrilled to hear from you – really delighted that you going full steam ahead with my handwriting style in your school.
I do have some guidance if this will help:
Full determination and commitment means that every member of staff needs to ‘learn’ the style just like the children.
Literally – letter by letter - and then ‘thinking through’ the rationale of the joins.
ALL staff then need to try to write with the ‘school style’ when doing school stuff – writing on teachers’ boards, marking, scribing, annotating – that kind of thing.
If staff aren’t prepared to do this, why should the children be expected to?
However, there needs to be a bit of an amnesty whereby staff are not expected to mark ‘at length’ during the early days because it obviously takes so much longer when trying to mark in a new style!
Ethos-wise, share with the children that adults and children alike are learning together and can help one another – encourage children to look out for one another’s joins and letter sizing – and to look out ‘to help’ the staff.
Know that teaching and transference to this style is VERY QUICK.
Rationalise all the joins from the outset so that children and staff can ‘think’ which type of join they need and why.
When they’ve done the first type of joins (curly c type), then with the adult modelling on the board a word like ‘dog’ and ‘dogs’ for example, get the children to call out, collectively, ‘which’ strokes and joins the adult needs to complete the word in a fully joined up way.
Be careful when using the software to be vigilant about the joins as ALL the letters need to join fully except ‘x’ - it joins but the pencil must be lifted from the page to the second ‘up stroke’ of the ‘x’.
In other words, it takes a bit of skill to make resources in the software and to ensure everything joins correctly.
I’ll send you a hard copy practice book which will be helpful for implementation.
You can photocopy it for staff who are not secure with their own letter-sizing etc at first.
The challenge is for the practice-letters to be ‘exactly the same’ as those in the book.
Having introduced all the ‘types’ of joins and enabled plenty of letter by letter practice – AND getting the children to talk the adult ‘through’ the joins on the board – then the children can try joining.
Some children will be able to transfer to this style immediately – but watch out for the odd not-great join and spacing (the diagonal line and washing line join allow for fabulous spacing to avoid letters being scrunched).
Be pedantic at first about ‘exactness’ of the style – the leaders from the lines add ‘flair’ to the style – guard against ‘ski slopes’ - the diagonal join is not curved.
Once children are fluent, there will be a natural ‘softening’ of the diagonal joins which is fine – but the straightness of the diagonal join is a great ‘teaching’ tool and does not rely on children having natural flair.
Allow for some ‘copy’ writing at first. Children choose a favourite poem and copy it out in their fully joined style then illustrate – display.
Don’t neglect print.
I do advise schools to teach print well in nursery, reception and Year One (goes great with phonics teaching) and then teach joined handwriting very quickly around Year Two.
In other words, don’t teach print with leaders – no need.
Then, pick a day when all general writing will be fully joined after introducing in Year Two.
Of the two or three resisters, say that you will ‘help them with joining’ at ‘playtime’.
They’ll soon know they need to apply their joins!
When children start to do fully joined writing in their general writing, please allow for them writing less than usual at first.
Don’t emphasise speed in any way when teaching – go slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully.
All of this will work, work well, work quickly and miraculously – but the determination must be there from everyone.
Personally, I don’t believe in giving special pencils or pen licences for those who master great handwriting.
Know that ALL the children can master this style and that ALL the children should have equality with pens or pencils.
Although we traditionally don’t like biro-use in schools, nowadays there are often better biros for writing then the traditional ink pens – use common sense for this.
Good handwriting which looks great is inspirational.
If you already have good handwriters with a different style, explain to them that they are lucky to be learning yet another style – and that many adults have various styles according to when they use them.
For example, I have a rather scruffy note-taking style, a stylised personal handwriting style and my ‘school’ handwriting style.
Don’t be tempted to let some children ‘not’ do the school style – how can teachers start picking and choosing who needs it or not - go for everyone doing it.
In the infants, when adults scribe children’s early writing, do this in very neat infant print on writing lines – not personal handwriting.
Let me know how you get on and please send pics and comments etc!!!!