Writing - Handwriting

At Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Primary School, we are very proud of our pupil’s handwriting and take particular care in our handwriting style. We use Letter-join’s on-line handwriting resource and Lesson Planners as the basis of our handwriting policy as it covers all the requirements of the National Curriculum. The school's agreed handwriting style develops from print, in Early Years and Foundation Stage and Year 1, then moves to cursive from Years 2 to 6. This ensures there is progression in handwriting style from Early Years Foundation Stage through to the end of Key Stage 2.

Objective

Handwriting is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. By the end of Key Stage 2 all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes. Our intention is to make handwriting an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking.

Aims

  • To develop a neat, legible, speedy handwriting style using continuous cursive letters, which leads to producing letters and words automatically in independent writing.
  • To establish and maintain high expectations for the presentation of written work.
  • For pupils to understand, by the end of Year 6, the importance of neat presentation and the need for different letterforms (cursive, printed or capital letters) to help communicate meaning clearly.

Consistency throughout the School

Pupils should experience coherence and continuity in the learning and teaching of handwriting across all school years and be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their work. Our objective is to help pupils enjoy learning and developing their handwriting with a sense of achievement and pride.

Expectations

All teaching staff are encouraged to model the printed or cursive style of handwriting chosen for each year group in our school in all their handwriting, whether on whiteboards, displays or in pupils’ books.

Inclusion

For children who experience handwriting difficulties due to fine motor development, including those who are left-handed and those with special educational needs, the appropriate additional support will be put into place. Letter-join’s Lesson Planners all include differentiation activities for extra practice and challenge. The school uses Letterjoins Recovery Programme designed for designed for pupils in Lower Key Stage 2 and above, who require extra support with their handwriting. The handwriting intervention is aimed at children who are not forming and/or joining letters correctly. It is intended as a revision of prior knowledge and is not aimed at younger pupils. Some children may struggle with their handwriting due to a change of schools or teachers in their early years, or a lack of direct teaching

due to absence from school. Other children may simply find handwriting difficult. Poor handwriting habits in older children, resulting in untidy, illegible handwriting and incorrect letter formation, requires a targeted approach.

Common issues are:

  • Incorrect letter formation
  • Letters are not sitting on the baseline
  • Ascenders are different heights
  • • Incorrect spacing between the words

Daily 10-15-minute practice sessions are recommended to focus on what needs

improving and practice using the lesson plans as required.

The Organisation of Handwriting

Handwriting Frequency

Handwriting is a cross-curricular task and will be taken into consideration during all lessons. Formal teaching of handwriting will be carried out regularly and systematically to ensure Key Stage targets are met.

Planning and Delivery

Cursive handwriting is taught and modelled in marking and teaching from Reception and throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. All teachers give specific attention to pencil and pen control, grip and posture in helping pupils to develop a legible cursive style. Teachers identify all left-handed pupils in their class. Left-handers should always sit on the right of a right-handed child to avoid collision. In Reception and Year 1, children are encouraged to write using a wide variety of media, from chalks and charcoal to crayons. Children will start handwriting using a soft pencil. When fine motor skills have been established a handwriting pen can be used. From Year 3, children with excellent handwriting are awarded pen licenses which can be used in all subjects except maths.

Letter Formation

At Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Primary School, we use the print to cursive approach. Therefore, pupils in the Early Years and Foundation Stage and Year 1 use print. The font the school uses is called Letter-join Print Plus that has simple exit strokes for letters that end ‘on the line’.

Children in the Early Years and Foundation Stage should form their letters like so:

Letter-join Print Plus Lower Case Letters

From Year 2 onwards, children begin using our cursive style. The font the school uses is Letter-join Plus which is a continuous cursive font with lead-in and lead-out lines. Letters should be formed as follows:

Letter-join Plus Lower Case Letters

Capital Letters

All children should form their capital letters like this:

Getting Ready for Handwriting

Handwriting Warm-up Exercises

Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Primary School teaches a number of fun warm-up exercises as part of the Letterjoin scheme.  The aim of the exercises is to help stimulate children ready for handwriting. Gross and fine motor skills exercises used at the beginning of each lesson will help to loosen up the fingers and the body in readiness for handwriting.

Teachers use a range of the following warm up exercises within their handwriting teaching and learning. The following fun gross motor activities can help improve your children’s core strength, control and endurance in preparation for handwriting.

Fine Motor Skills

Letterjoin also uses a range of fine motor skills activities before lessons. The aim of these is to wake up fingers and hand muscles before the children begin to write.

Finger and Hand Exercises

 Action  Description
Finger Stretches Put the tips of your fingers together and straighten your fingers by pushing your fingertips against each other. Repeat 5 times.
Play the Piano Touch the table with one finger at a time from each hand like you are playing the piano. Start slowly and get faster.
Fishing Hooks Put your elbows on the table, keep your hands apart, squeeze your fingers together and point them to the sky. Keep your knuckles straight and make a hook with your fingers. Hold, then straighten five times.
Fireworks Make a fist with both hands and hold them tight. Then let your fingers go like exploding fireworks! Repeat five times.
Take a Bow Put your elbows on the table, keep your hands apart, squeeze your fingers together and point them to the sky. Bend your knuckles but keep your fingers straight so your fingers bow to each other. Repeat 5 times.

Handwriting Posture and Pencil Grip

It is important that children sit comfortably and hold a pencil correctly for handwriting from the start; some children may need repeated intervention to achieve this.

Comfortable Sitting Position and Correct Paper Position

This will help children be more comfortable, enabling them to write for sustained periods.

Tripod Pencil Grip

How to hold a pencil correctly for handwriting: 

 Action Description 
Quack, Quack Fingers Start your warm up by making a beak with your thumb and first finger on both hands. Make them quack twice, then do the same with your other fingers.
Roly-Poly Pencil Lay your pencil flat across your fingers. Use your thumb to roll it backwards and forwards. Now try it with your other hand.
Crawling Caterpillar Hold your pencil ready to write. Move the pencil through your three fingers to the top like a crawling caterpillar. When you get to the top, make your caterpillar crawl back down again!
Helicopter Twirls Hold your pencil in the middle with your three correct fingers. Make a twirling helicopter by moving your fingers one at a time from one side of the pencil to the other.

Progression

Early Years and Foundation Stage

Early Years and Foundation Stage teach handwriting through the print method. Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage are involved in a variety of activities to develop their physical development. For our youngest pupils we teach short handwriting sessions, which will include the following:

  • enhancing gross motor skills such as air-writing, pattern-making and physical activities
  • exercises to develop fine motor skills such as mark-making on paper, whiteboards, sensory trays, iPads, tablets, etc.
  • becoming familiar with letter shapes, their sounds, formation and vocabulary
  • correct sitting position and pencil grip for handwriting

Handwriting is divided into three sections covering:

  • Pre-writing patterns
  • Easy letters and words
  • Harder letters and words 

By the end of the Early Years and Foundation Stage, children should be able to recognise and form all the printed, lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Opportunities for mark making are planned in both the inside and outside environment. Children are offered a range of materials and experiences for mark making developed across all six areas of learning. When teachers are modelling activities, they demonstrate and encourage correct pencil grip.

Key Stage 1 – Years 1 and 2

In Key Stage 1, children continue to use the print method. Teaching progresses to longer lessons per week:

  • continuing with gross and fine motor skills exercises
  • strengthening handwriting, learning and practice
  • numerals, capitals and printed letters; where and when to use, learning and practice
  • Key Stage 1 SATs Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling exercises

Year 1

In Year 1, children are taught how to correctly write capital letters, uses of printed letters, numbers, punctuation, maths symbols and other symbols. Pre-cursive patterns and cursive letters are then introduced in preparation for Year 2 when children are required to start joining their handwriting.

Coverage is divided into three sections covering:

  • warm-ups, letter families and capital letters
  • uses of printed letters
  • numbers and symbols
  • introducing pre-cursive patterns and cursive letters

When leaving Year 1, children should be confident in writing all the capital and printed letters, numbers and symbols and start to become familiar with the orientation of cursive letters.

Year 2

In Year 2, children are introduced to cursive letters and how to join them. They will have regular practice in letter formation and joining their handwriting.

The sections cover: 

  • Cursive letters and words
  • Letter families
  • High frequency words
  • Joining techniques
  • Sequencing sentences
  • Dictation exercises
  • Times table facts
  • Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling practice for Key Stage 1 SATS

With regular handwriting practice throughout Year 2, children develop the fluency and speed of their letter formation and orientation and will have had plenty of opportunities to practise neat handwriting.

Lower Key Stage 2 – Years 3 and 4

Handwriting lessons will continue twice a week in Lower Key Stage 2. In Lower Key Stage 2 children use the cursive script, building on the foundations from the Early Years and Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Children should be using a cursive style throughout their independent writing in all subjects, helping to refine their handwriting in line with the requirements of each lesson.

Year 3

In Year 3 children will continue to develop legibility, consistency and the quality of their cursive handwriting. Teaching covers   topics such as dictation, double letters, number vocabulary, palindromes, tongue twisters, MFL (French and Spanish), onomatopoeia, simile and statutory spellings.

By the end of Year 3, children should have improved their fluency of their joined handwriting and use a variety of resources which link handwriting to other areas of the curriculum.

Year 4

In Year 4, teaching focuses on using handwriting practice to support other subjects in the curriculum and, at the same time, builds on fluency and consistency. Handwriting lessons promote meaningful links with other subjects such as English, maths, science, geography, French and Spanish. Making such links enables children to apply the skills they are learning in context and also provides depth to the curriculum. Learners will continue to build on producing fluent, consistent and legible handwriting through the regular practice offered in this handwriting lessons. By the end of Year 4, children will have practised applying size-appropriate handwriting to all areas of the curriculum whilst maintaining fluency and legibility.

Upper Key Stage 2 – Years 5 and 6

More advanced handwriting techniques will be taught during lessons:

  • reinforcing cursive handwriting across the curriculum
  • form-filling/labelling using printed and capital letters
  • dictation exercises promoting quick note-taking and speedy handwriting writing skills
  • KS2 SATs SPaG practice

Year 5

In Year 5, children combine fluent handwriting with other subjects across the curriculum. By the end of the year group, children should produce cursive handwriting automatically enabling them to focus on content rather than the process of writing.

Year 6

In Year 6, handwriting practise focuses on ensuring writing is neatly presented and clear in preparation for Key Stage 2 SATS and the expected standard for Year 6. By the end of the year group, children should have achieved stamina and the skills required to write at length and develop a more personal handwriting style as they write with automaticity.  

Terminology

Print:

Handwriting in which the letters are separated (as block letters)

Cursive:

Joined-up handwriting style

Capital and lowercase:

The names of capital and lowercase letters (rather than ‘big and small’).

Ascenders:

Letters that go above the usual letter line

Descenders:

Letters that go below the base line

Letter bodies:

The main body of letters, which are neither ascenders or descenders (e.g. the rounded parts of ‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘a’ and the arches of ‘m’ and ‘n’

Entry and exit strokes:

Entry stroke starts on the line and exit strokes generally end on the line (with the exception of ‘o’, ‘v,’ ‘w,’ ‘r’ and ‘x’

Handwriting at Home

Pupils are encouraged to practise their handwriting at home by using the Pupil log-in for Letter-join. Teachers can set Home Learning Tasks which may include:

  • Magic Patterns
  • Magic Words
  • SoundMatch
  • PhonicsMatch
  • LetterMatch
  • LetterLotto
  • Letter Families activity
  • Word Search
  • Word Bank
  • Spelling lists
  • Write it Right!

Children can also watch the word and letter animations and practice and explore other handwriting resources on Letter-join.