Over the summer, the Handwriting – Foundations and Building Blocks guidance on the blog was developed. This includes information for early years practitioners and those in the early stages of school to support children’s movement and coordination skills through to early letter formation. When supporting children’s motor development, we recommend practitioners engage with this information and the resources included within.
Before children are explicitly taught how to form the letters of the alphabet, it is recommended that they develop the pencil control concepts which underpin handwriting. Teachers in early primary can assess children’s pencil control skills using the pencil control screen and plan for pencil control development using the ideas from the Pencil Control Concepts Toolkit.
At the first round of local networks in August and September we explored:
1. The Pencil Control Screen and Accompanying Picture/ Resource Book
At the networks practitioners shared how and when they feel they may use the pencil control screen. The pencil control screen has been developed between education and occupational therapy to provide an overview for practitioners of children’s strengths and areas for development in the seven pencil control concepts of: shape formation, shape manipulation, directionality, fluidity of movement, fine motor skills, pressure control and pencil grip. Some possible ways in which practitioners identified they may use the pencil control screen are:
- prior to providing opportunities for pencil control skill development in early primary, universally or with identified children following pre-handwriting observations, to help inform the planning of pencil control skill development through play and direct instruction;
- once children have had opportunities to develop pencil control skills through play and direct instruction in early primary, universally or with identified children following observations of pencil control skills, to identify individual strengths and gaps to help inform planning of early letter formation;
- with individual children who have had previous handwriting instruction who are displaying difficulties.
The seven sections of the screen can be used independently. Teachers can use their professional judgement as to how best to use the screen to inform their short and medium term planning.
2. The Pencil Control Resource Toolkit
For each of the seven pencil control concepts there is a resource with suggested activities to support the development of the skill. This is done initially through thinking-looking-doing activities, and then further consolidated with a pencil. Practitioners identified different ways they may use the pencil control resource toolkit:
- using the various activity suggestions for each of the pencil control skills to plan out their early handwriting programme universally for children prior to the formal instruction of letter formation;
- creating a targeted early handwriting programme for individuals/ groups of children by identifying the areas of development through the use of the pencil control screen.