Learn Proven Strategies from Accomplished Kindergarten Teachers
- If handwriting skills are not automatic, it interferes with the whole writing process!
- Good handwriting skills facilitate rigorous Common Core writing standards: Begin instruction working with each child’s name! Have high expectations • Be intentional • Create a sense of urgency: Your name is so important!
All kindergarten children need to see a Name Ticket Model of how their name looks when printed correctly.
- Carefully observe each child forming the letters in their first name. Expect each letter to be formed correctly. Pay attention to pencil grasp and whether letters are being formed from the top.
Once a child can print her first name fluently, she may also practice pink “heart words” and “heart word” sentences for handwriting fluency.
- Fingerspell everything: It develops writing strength in the finger muscles while building memory hooks for letters and sounds. Expect mastery of fingerspelling a-z the first month of school. Use the free ASL video tutorials on our ABC Page.
- Children need a consistent routine and a short, targeted, systematic time for daily name writing practice, ”heart word sentence” quick writes, and a, b, c, d fluency drills.
In some classrooms, this works best first thing in the morning as part of “settling-in time”; other teachers provide this practice after recess and before independent “choice time.” Help children with the a,b,c,d handwriting and fingerspelling challenge. We make connections with our ABC Phonics: Sing, Sing and Read! program throughout the curriculum.
In still other classrooms, the children are expected to always do their best name writing. Some teachers check the students’ names on their illustrated “I Can Read” Anthology (Notebook) pages or other art/writing pieces which gets finished before recess. This becomes their “ticket” to go outside. Expect good name writing throughout the day!
Teach the concept of continuous motion and lift the pen motion using spiral and twinkling star art projects. See free video clip, How Drawing Supports Handwriting Development, on the Kindergarten Handwriting page.
Teach the touchstone sentence: I love you. Notice how children are making the lowercase “y”—have them verbalize “short diagonal, long diagonal.”
Send home the Name Ticket Practice Book asking families to help the child practice twice a day. Parents value good handwriting and appreciate that it is being taught. Make sure they have a Name Ticket Model for their child to follow.
Teach an efficient pencil grip. Consider using the CLAW or a large triangle crayon with the children who need support to build muscle memory for pencil holding. (See Weekly Focus: Ten Tips for Teaching Handwriting Grip, June 1, 2016)
Honor children as “name writing experts” once they have learned efficient handwriting motions for their name. The experts can each make a crown and have their pictures taken for a class book or receive a badge or certificate. Kindergarten children love recognition for having worked hard and achieved an important learning target.
Expect good handwriting for the pink high-frequency “heart words”: include writing the words with fluency as a part of becoming a master of each new set of words! Once pink and purple words are mastered, children will be able to efficiently write every lowercase letter except j, q, and z.
Teachers already using Kindergarten-Friendly Handwriting may consider rereading the first 20 page photo essay in the Teachers’ Guide: Kindergarten-Friendly Handwriting, Word Work and Phonics or reading Chapter 3 in Kindergarten Writing and the Common Core: Joyful Pathways to Accelerated Literacy.
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