Developing the Handwriting By Morenike Taiwo
Language is the greatest thing in the history of humanity. It is the phenomenon that allows social thought. The secret thought of man is transmitted through this mysterious music, known as human speech.
Writing is an explosive phenomenon according to Dr Maria Montessori. There are series of activities that precedes handwriting in Montessori Pedagogy. These activities include but are not limited to activities in spoken language – true stories, conversation, question game, riddles, book reading, sensorial vocabulary, classified vocabulary cards, listen and do games, sound games (vowel and consonants), function of word games, logical analysis games, word study games, sandpaper letters and moveable alphabets, among others.
All these listed activities help the child to develop the skills that precedes handwriting before explosion into the world of writing.
In Montessori pedagogy, the child learns writing before reading. The world of writing will further the child’s exploration into reading.
Writing is a wonderful gift that human developed in living together. The human tendency to communicate is language. Writing forms deeper relationship, others can read what we have written and understand our thoughts.
Children experience writing as an exploration. It is a discovery, exciting and engaging. Dr Montessori observed that the best way a child learns to read, is through writing. In her observation, the children discover they could write before they could read.
Writing is an ability to express one’s thoughts through sounds. Using the sound games is one way of analysing thoughts. There are five vowels and twenty -one consonants in sounds. There is also the beginning, ending and the middle sounds in every word which help the child to articulate the sound of the word before he can develop the writing skills.
In supporting the child’s writing in the children’s house, sound games, sandpaper letters and moveable alphabets are some of the activities that will be shown to the child to attach a symbol to each sound.
The skill of writing is a practical skill that develops creativity in the child. There are several handwriting lessons that will be introduced to the child. For example, all metal insets activities from stage 1-4, object box 1 and 2, which have the vowel and the consonant sounds, phonogram words, phonetic activities and puzzle words are all writing activities.
Through these handwriting activities and exercises, the child learns to make his own individual expression and put his own thoughts on paper.
Worthy of note is the fact that exercises of practical life and sensorial exercises are prerequisite to writing activities and exercises because theses ESL and sensorial activities prepares the child’s hands and muscle for writing. Also, there are activities in the cultural extension of the language area that prepares the child towards his explosion into writing. These activities include but are not limited to botany cabinet, geometric cabinet, table washing, polishing wood, and dressing frames.
The child first learns to develop his handwriting by first writing letters randomly on the chalk board without any lines. He practices the holding of the chalk with skill which he had already acquired when working with metal insets. He learns how to place the chalk on the on the board by placing it flat on the side. He writes different letters on the plain board using the sandpaper letters as a guide as he looks on it write his own.
He later writes learns to write from his memory and wipes it off. When he had had enough practice with writing on the plain board, he progresses to writing the middle letters on the lined board. The child does not have to learn all the alphabets in order. He first learns to place the middle letters on the line – a c e o u etc, using the moveable alphabet and the cloth.
Once he is familiar with the placement of the middle letters, he learns to place the top letters -b d f l etc. The top letters start from the top line and ends at the middle line. Then he learns to place the bottom letters on the line – g j q etc. The bottom letters start from the middle line and ends on the bottom line. This is the progression of placement of letters on a line. When the child is successful with these, he progresses to write the alphabets with the guide on the board as he writes on the board with the lines.