Nathan spent his early years in South Africa and moved to London when he was six years old. The children in his school in South Africa had not been expected to write at that age, but at his school in London, letter formation had already been addressed. Nathan worked out a way of writing for himself and, unsurprisingly, made some of the letters in an unusual way.
He arrived for some help with handwriting at the age of nine when the rest of his classmates were writing in a joined style with the recommendation from school that he was ‘not ready to join’.
Observing Nathan write, it was clear that he made many of the letters in an unconventional way e.g. ‘d’ started from the top with the vertical stroke and ‘f’ and ‘p’ were written upwards from the bottom so that his school was quite right in saying he was not ready to join. His sitting position and pen hold in his left hand seemed reasonably comfortable.
Stages of the Intervention:
1 Looking at each group of letters in turn using the grouping below:
We identified the letters that Nathan was making unconventionally. During the week following each session he practised those letters, individually and within words, and he tried to use the new forms in his normal work at school as much as possible so that they gradually became automatic.
2 Joining – using the following groups:
- Diagonal joins to short and tall letters eg a-i, u-l
- Diagonal joins to c, a, d, g, q, s, f, emphasising closing the tops of the letters
(a movement quite difficult for left-handers)
- Horizontal joins to short letters and tall letters eg. o-i, w-h
- Non-joining letters
(Nathan’s school used a type of writing that did not join after g, y, j and a few other letters)
3 Gaining confidence
Nathan practised individual words to be entered in a group book, practised writing his school spelling lists in joined writing and gradually increased the amount of joined writing he was doing at school. He began with simple tasks such as writing the date and those requiring copying rather than creative skills.
Nathan came for a half hour lesson once a week during the Spring Term 2011 and was diligent at regular practice sessions of 5-10 minutes at home on five days of the week, with a break for half term.
The timing was determined by Nathan’s progress as I felt that it was important for him to feel that he had mastered each step before moving to the next. At the end of the term he was writing a joined style with confidence, even though fairly slowly. He is a willing and diligent student and with support from home I feel sure that he will build on his skills and gradually improve the speed of his writing.