Thursday, January 7, 2016

Parenting Pointers: National Handwriting Day

National Handwriting Day is coming up on January 23, 2016. Did you know that seventy-five percent of American students in grades 4 – 12 are writing below grade level?  As we approach the day of acknowledgement, the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association offers the following facts and tips for reinforcing handwriting in children.  If you are planning any coverage in conjunction with National Handwriting Day, please consider the following tips. As well, Executive Director David Baker of the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association is also available for comment. Thank you in advance.

National Handwriting Day Reminds Children of the Importance of Handwriting
(Washington, D.C.) January 23rd, 2016 marks the 39th anniversary of National Handwriting Day.  Established in 1977 on the birthday of perhaps one of America’s most celebrated scribes, John Hancock­ – known for his bold signature on the Declaration of Independence – National Handwriting Day was created to acknowledge the history and importance of penmanship in all of our lives.

Handwriting Makes Us Smarter!
Research has shown that writing by hand benefits cognitive development, motor skills and can lead to improved writing skills and comprehension.[1]  University of Washington Psychologist Virginia Berninger concluded in a study on school-aged children that handwriting, both printing and cursive, and typing on a keyboard activated different brain patterns.  Children who wrote by hand generated more ideas faster than those typing and also exhibited better working memory, which increased overall reading and writing abilities.

Expression Through the Art of Handwriting
Handwriting allows individuals to be artists during a time when the tool of choice for writing is often a digital device.  The art of handwriting is one of the few ways individuals can uniquely express themselves. Developing this skill in children has shown to influence reading, writing, language, creativity and critical thinking. Handwriting adds intimacy to anything written, whether it’s a letter, a card or a simple note, and reveals details about the writer’s personality.  As a result, many of us choose to save handwritten cards and letters as reminders of loved ones.  "As technology grows and certainly plays an important role in our lives, nothing will ever replace the sincerity and individualism expressed through the handwritten word," says David H. Baker, WIMA's Executive Director.

Tips to Get the Kids Writing
The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) sponsors National Handwriting Day with the mission of sharing the significance and power of handwriting. WIMA suggests reinforcing the importance of handwriting with children on National Handwriting Day in any of the following ways:

1.    Learn about the important written documents in history. Throughout history, handwritten documents have sparked love affairs, started wars, established peace, freed slaves, created movements and declared independence. 
2.    Read a book. It may not be writing, but it shows appreciation of writing. Some of the most noted authors prefer pen and paper to create their novels including J.K. Rowling, who drafted her famous Harry Potter series on napkins.
3.    Practice 15 minutes of handwriting each day. Experts recommend a minimum of 15 minutes of handwriting each day for students to experience the benefits of the skill.
4.    Start a diary or journal.  Keeping a diary or journal is a great way for children to write daily–sharing their innermost thoughts, dreams and fears on paper. University of Texas at Austin psychologist James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells and reduces stress. Not to mention it makes a great keepsake as they progress through life.
5.    Write a story or make a card.  Encourage children to get their creative juices flowing by writing a story or creating a card for someone. Several celebrated works started out as a mere idea.  Once you write it down, it brings it to life.

To learn more about handwriting, LIKE Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association on Facebook.

[1] Hanover Research (2012) The Importance of Teaching Handwriting in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Hanover Research

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