It used to be that only people with special training could type. Now everyone has their hands on a keyboard of one type or another, from laptops, through tablets to phones. We’re messaging like mad.

So is handwriting still important?

The National Handwriting Association maintains that it is.

We’re all needing to jot stuff down at some point – especially when the technology ceases to work. Being able to wield a pencil and make marks and symbols, in whatever form, has always been and still is an important part of our communication heritage. And it is still an essential part of education.

But there is still an ongoing debate about pens versus keyboards and why each has a place. According to this article in the Guardian experts say that the ability to do both develops very different cognitive skills all of which are important to a child’s educational development.

Although we might not consider handwriting as essential as it once was there is the risk that children with poor hand writing skills will lose out on valuable marks in exams if their work is difficult to read or illegible. Lack of fluency with handwriting also slows a child down which could present problems in particularly pressured times like exams. Labouring over writing interferes with the processing of ideas, vocabulary and therefore overall performance.

So hand writing, although hard for some children, is an important skill for them to persevere with alongside their keyboard skills.

However there are all sorts of other manipulative activities, as well as actually writing which to some children can seem boring and pointless, which can continue to develop these necessary skills whatever age the children are.

For example:

  • All activities which involve handling things (e.g. scissors, construction toys, puzzles, manipulative play as with cars or dolls, all crafts) increase the skills used in writing
  • All forms of art work with a variety of materials (e.g. paint, pens, collage, cutting and sticking, model making) at whatever age is beneficial
  • Colouring books, activity workbooks (there are many aimed at older kids now like ‘Wreck This Journal’ by Keri Smith)
  • Using utensils for cooking or baking for example, measuring, mixing, DIY jobs, using tools etc
  • Any hands on experience or workshop which involves making things

All the above activities develop the skills needed for flexible, fluent writing. And for writing practice itself check out websites (like Teach Handwriting or Twinkle ) for printables.


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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.