Through handwriting, it is our intention at St Paul’s CE Primary to inspire and engage children in the subject area, instilling an ambition and desire in our children to take pride in their presentation in all aspects of their learning.
We aim for children to begin their time at school by developing gross and fine motor skills, both of which play an integral part in the development of handwriting throughout the rest of their time at school.
Using our own ‘Rainbow Handwriting’ approach to handwriting, we guide children through seven levels based on the colours of the rainbow. Children will begin their journey when they start to mark make using different mediums. From then, they will progress as they develop letter formation, learn how to use lead-ins, practise early joining and, eventually, master fluent joining and their own unique and individual style. Through carefully-designed handwriting exercises, children will develop the muscles in their hands, shoulders and core in order to support themselves while writing. Handwriting lessons will guide children through these exercises, teach them a new letter formation or join, highlight common misconceptions and give them time to practise in isolation and then apply to words or short pieces of writing.
It is our aim that children will have the confidence in their knowledge of handwriting to assess their own handwriting and take an independent approach to improving so they can achieve a perfect presentation award and begin to use a pen. Teachers constantly and consistently discuss handwriting and presentation with children in order to give feedback and next steps to improve. Children will develop stamina until they are fluent in handwriting and demonstrate correct letter formation, appropriate and succinct joins and the ability to maintain an appropriate speed when writing for a sustained period of time.
From Early Years through to Year Six, handwriting will be taught in isolated lessons linked to our two or three week English blocks. In the Early Years, the focus will be on developing and strengthening fine and gross motor skills so children have the strength and movement necessary to support their handwriting. They will be exposed to many activities, such as ‘tummy writing’ and large scale shape formation as well as the use of different mediums of mark-making, moving on to begin the correct letter formation. At this early stage and in Year One, handwriting is linked to phonics, using mnemonics to practise letter formation and phonemes.
As children move on through the school, the focus moves on to applying their fine motor skills but continues to develop them through the use of handwriting exercises. These exercises will be practised during handwriting lessons which will focus on specific letter or join that the class teacher will have identified as a need in the class. At this stage, it is important that misconceptions are addressed and the incorrect formation is shown to the children as well as the correct formation. Children then practise handwriting independently in their English books, following ‘Rainbow Rules’. The ‘Rainbow Rules’ consist of seven steps to ensure children are able to support their handwriting. These steps are: using the tripod grip, having their book at a 45 degree angle, their chair tucked in, ensuring a straight back, with feet on the floor, with an anchor arm and a sharp pencil. Children also have the opportunity to practise their spellings during handwriting lessons.
When assessing handwriting, teachers will give both written and oral feedback on specific next steps in order to make quick progress. ‘Rainbow Rules’ and feedback of handwriting is not just reserved for handwriting lessons and will be practised at all writing opportunities; this is incredibly important in the promotion of handwriting at St Paul’s CE Primary. At the point when the class teacher believes a child is ready to be considered for a perfect presentation award, the child will be sent to the handwriting lead or the headteacher to be given positive critique and next steps and will be regularly reviewed until they are awarded their perfect presentation award.
Children will show clear pride in their presentation and a desire to improve their handwriting and work towards being the best they can be. Children will show progress throughout year groups and will be able to discuss their own handwriting and identify their next steps.
Children will be able to use the correct vocabulary such as lead ins, flourish and cursive as well as recall the seven ‘Rainbow Rules’. Children will use the ‘Rainbow Rules’ at all writing opportunities and regularly use handwriting exercises to prepare for writing. Children who have received a perfect presentation award. will maintain motivation to take pride in their presentation through the opportunity to mentor and aid other children in their handwriting journey. The handwriting lead will meet with children who have achieved their perfect presentation award to discuss how they can support others and to access pupil voice in the teaching of handwriting. Marking and feedback on handwriting will be consistent throughout the school and high expectations in handwriting and presentation will be evident in all learning books.
The booklet below aims to support parents and carers when working with their children and understanding the stages that children go through as they perfect letter formation and begin to develop their own style.
The handwriting guidance sheets below can help children practise and perfect letter formation. It is crucial that letters are formed correctly and fluently in order to progress to cursive writing.
We hold an annual handwriting competition where children demonstrate their very best handwriting, showing how beautifully they can exhibit their skills. We hope you enjoy these examples:
The following activities can be used at home to practise handwriting and support your child is developing clear, controlled and fluent handwriting.