Is technology the key to saving our kids’ handwriting?Roddy Bergeron
The write stuff: How technology can promote handwriting skills
Have you ever scribbled a reminder on a sticky note? Written a shopping list? Jotted down a telephone message? These actions all require handwriting as a basic skill, but it’s a skill that’s in decline. There’s a growing concern that, thanks to smart devices, children aren’t learning sufficient handwriting to properly equip them for the future. But the good news is these technologies can provide valuable assistance in helping children learn and master handwriting skills.
Handwriting – why does it matter?
Everyone has a smart device these days, so why should we write when we can type? This is a valid question, but there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that handwriting makes us smarter.
For example, handwriting allows development of fine motor skills because there’s a significant level of interaction between the brain and hand to properly form characters. The brain also retains handwritten information more effectively, and handwriting assists children to learn letters more easily.
In short, handwriting is essential to academic performance.
How technology can help handwriting
Schools have a duty to ensure that kids learn technological literacy, which means that smart devices and computers are increasingly used to complete schoolwork. The knock-on effect is that handwriting education has less space in school curriculums.
But tech developers are now playing an important role in ensuring continuity of handwriting education – in ways that meet modern demands.
For example, students can use a smart device and stylus to practise letter formation. Devices with A4-sized screens and orientations for both left and right-handed users are increasingly popular.
Teachers can also carry their own devices as they move around the classroom, modelling handwriting for individual students, rather than teaching only from a whiteboard at the front of the classroom. This allows the teacher to adapt more easily to individual student needs.
There are plenty of handwriting apps that teach all aspects of handwriting, including the cursive style. Animations are also useful to show correct character formation so that each student can learn at their own pace or continue their learning when the teacher is otherwise engaged.
Digital or analogue? We need both
There’s no doubt that handwriting education remains a key concern for teachers. But, as with most things, it needs to change with the times to survive. In this digital age, the reality is that handwriting is more likely to be taught with technology than with pen and paper.
This means there is a significant need for schools to have up-to-date technology and access to great digital teaching resources. The education and technology sectors have always had a strong relationship. Traditionally, that’s been so educators could teach technology skills. Now, in the 21st century, it’s time for the technology sector to return the favour. Because let’s face it, sticky notes will lose their charm if no one can remember how to write on them.