Handwriting is a learned skill that is most effectively taught directly, by demonstration, explanation and practice, using the right method in combination with the right tools.
The right, or should that be write?, tools matter because learning to write should never be associated with pain in hands, fingers, wrist, arms or shoulders. Using handwriting implements which have not been developed specifically for those who are learning to write can cause pain and actually do more harm in the long run. Fingers, hands, wrists or arms hurt when pens and pencils for “Writing Ready” learners are used by those who are just starting out. Who wants to do something voluntarily that’s painful? Yet for those learners who experience pain when learning to write with the wrong tools, experience shows that they then form a negative association with handwriting as a whole and either find numerous ways to avoid having to write or just simply become badly behaved and disruptive in class.
There is a clear distinction between those learners who are “Writing Ready” and those who are still “Learning to Write”. A dentist wouldn’t use a hammer and chisel whilst working on a patient’s teeth, instead they use the very best tools to ensure they deliver the best results. Why then would we, as a handwriting specialist company, use anything but the very best and most appropriate handwriting tools when we deliver our programmes
As Start-Bee I have spent the last five years trying out a vast range, makes and types, of pens and pencils whilst delivering handwriting instruction to hundreds of children. Here’s what I have found to be the right tools for each level of handwriting and it’s the reason why I jumped at the chance to partner with BICUK.
Learner Handwriters – Year 1 and above
Children in Reception and Year 1, who are developing those fine motor skills, need to use pencils which will ensure they apply the correct pencil grip. This is why I have specifically chosen the BiC® KIDS HB triangular handwriting pencils to use with those pupils that are in the early stages of learning to write. Their size and design have been specifically formulated to work extremely well for absolutely anyone learning to write, regardless of their age because they are so easy to grip with what we at Start-Bee call, ‘Learning to Write Fingers’.
There is a very clear distinction between hands that are ‘handwriting ready’ and those that are ‘learning to write’. The latter are generally still building up their strength and their ability to grip a pencil, with making strong marks as their end goal, their hands are not as strong as those who can write fluently and without any physical discomfort. The sizing of the pencils and the pencil “girth” is extremely important in enabling ‘Learning to Write Fingers’ to develop a strong pencil grip that then translates into strong and clear mark making.
Both robust and the perfect length and weight for someone who is learning to write, children can grip the pencil without it causing their hands to strain after holding them for more than a few minutes.
When completing a Start-Bee Handwriting Match Fit AssessmentTM, unlike a simple HB pencil, the marks or letters a child makes with with these BiC pencils quite clearly shows up any issues. The intensity of the mark or letter enables me to instantly assess whether the pupil needs to work on their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand/finger strength, pencil grip or to ascertain that they are emergent handwriters who will soon be moving up to the next “level” of writing tools. When I see that the mark the learner has made is too light, I immediately know that learner has weak hands and fingers as the BiC 2HD Graphite pencil delivers a nice clear and dark mark when it is used by a learner who is able to write.
I have used these pencils with hundreds of children filling in their Start-Bee Handwriting Match Fit Assessment® and it has proven to me, time and time again, that it is the ONLY pencil I would recommend for anybody who is learning how to write. These pencils are robust, just the right length and thickness and they are much easier for a handwriting beginner to learn to hold the pencil correctly.
The BiC® KIDS HB triangular handwriting pencils are ideal for those learning to write as they are designed with a visible guide line running the length of the pencil that is very clear for the learner to see and to use as a marker while maintaining the correct pencil grip. Each one is ideal for both Left-Handed and Right-Handed writers, these handwriting pencils also deliver a strong mark, the intensity of which helps the Handwriting Ambassador Teacher to instantly assess whether the pupil needs to work on their fine motor skills and hand/finger strength, or to ascertain that they are emergent handwriters who will soon be moving up to the next “level” of writing tools. =
Learner handwriters – Pre-school and Reception
For very little learners, those in pre-school and Reception, I recommend the BiC Kids Plastidecor triangle wax crayons. They are light, non-greasy, short and have strong vivid colours and are the ONLY colouring crayons the company recommends for those with little fingers who are learning how to use the correct pencil grip.
When a child is “Writing Ready”, Start-Bee directs them to the BiC® KIDS handwriting mechanical pencil which is both the same length and width as the first pencil but has the fantastic “pencil grip” built in, with a raised mid line area and nose cone to ensure children maintain the correct pencil grip when their instrument is no longer triangular.
Finally when a learner achieves their Start-Bee Pen License, they can then move onto the ink version of the handwriting range which continues to employ the same raised grip and nose cone featured in its predecessor but with easy glide ink system ensuring that mark making is still as easy as before. A pupil who has a fluid and fluent writing style that is legible is going to be able to use these fantastic advanced writing tools to do their work and they will certainly be able to use their writing skills in all of their school subjects.
All in all, in my experience the BiC Kids range of pens and pencils are not only excellently crafted but they are affordable and easily accessible for any parent to use at home too. They are the very best writing tools to use in the classroom and that is why we use them in all three of our Start-Bee Handwriting kits. It’s also why I’m delighted to be working with BiC UK to help boost the teaching of handwriting to primary school pupils in the UK.
If you want to talk to me about handwriting and the right tools for writing, come and say hello at the Birmingham NEC’s Education Show. Start-Bee will be on BiC’s stand F28 (opposite the entrance) on 17th, 18th and 19th March.
How can you tell if a child is struggling with handwriting? This video will help.