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at St Wilfrid's CE Primary School

How We Teach Handwriting

In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children are taught to develop their fine motor skills in a variety of ways such as threading, weaving, zipping, cutting, moulding, building, etc. Children are taught letter formation rhymes to remind them how letters are formed as part of daily practice. This continues into year 1 where the rhymes are used to remind children about where letters start and this is modelled to them continuously in writing and phonics lessons.

From year 1 – year 6, children follow a handwriting scheme. This is a progressive scheme across school, which builds upon their previous learning and gives the children the opportunity to practise key handwriting skills appropriate to their age and in line with the National Curriculum. As a school, we have invested in high-quality handwriting training and have a clear policy in place with a structure of lessons. 

We have also invested in high quality resources such as handwriting pens and books with handwriting lines. These books help the children to form their letters correctly and with appropriate spacing and distance.

Children have at least 2 discrete handwriting lessons a week from year 1 – year 6. Sessions to develop fine motor skills are daily in EYFS. As well as these regular lessons, children will have handwriting modelled to them at an age-appropriate level daily by teachers across the school. 

Children with particular weaknesses or issues with fine motor skills are targeted by teachers and provided with additional input to meet their needs and help them to progress. 

This will enable our children to become effective writers for the future: writing neatly, continuously and with good stamina. 

An effective handwriting lesson focuses on the three components of handwriting: letter formation, size and spacing. Our handwriting practices focus on these areas.

Our handwriting lessons are structured like this:

  1. A warm up, focusing on an engaging activity which develops fine or gross motor skills depending on age. These can include activities such as threading, weaving, cutting, dough disco etc. This could also include finger workouts or focusing on posture and seating position.
  2. Introduce learning focus for the day (e.g. joining the letter r). Recap relevant previous learning.
  3. Modelling the skill. Model the join with a pen on the paper flipchart or interactive whiteboard with handwriting lines. It is important that letter formation, size and spacing is discussed throughout this stage.
  4. You do, they do. Children practise the skill they have just been taught. They can do this alone, in pairs or in groups. They can copy with their fingers in the air, using resources, on boards or with pencils.
  5. Independent application. Children to apply the skill into their own writing – writing the join/pattern and application into words/sentences depending on their age and ability.
  6. Review: Review children’s learning in pairs, individually or as a whole class.

Attached below as a PDF is our detailed handwriting policy.

Nursery Reception Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 & 4 Year 5 & 6

- Draw lines and circles using gross motor movements. (Moving and handling).

- Use one-handed tools and equipment, e.g. makes snips in paper with child scissors. (Moving and handling).

- Hold a pencil between thumb and two fingers, no longer using whole-hand grasp. (Moving and handling).

- Hold a pencil near point between first two fingers and thumb and uses it with good control. (Moving and handling).

- Copy some letters, e.g. letters from their name. (Moving and handling).

- Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing, using the tripod grip in almost all cases.

- Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery.

- Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing.

- Shows a preference for a dominant hand. (Moving and handling).

- Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed. 

- Sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly.

- Begin to form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place.

- Form capital letters.

- Form digits 0-9.

- Understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ (i.e. letters that are formed in similar ways) and to practise these. 

- Form lower-case letters of the correct size relative to one another.

- Start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined.

- Write capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower case letters.

- Use spacing between words that reflects the size of the letters.

- Use the diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined.

- Increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting [for example, by ensuring that the downstrokes of letters are parallel and equidistant; that lines of writing are spaced sufficiently so that the ascenders and descenders of letters do not touch].

- Write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by:
choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters.

- Choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

Further guidance
in Early Years
Further guidance in Early Years Framework

Notes and guidance from National Curriculum:
Handwriting requires frequent and discrete, direct teaching. Pupils should be able to form letters correctly and confidently. The size of the writing implement (pencil, pen) should not be too large for a young pupil’s hand. Whatever is being used should allow the pupil to hold it easily and correctly so that bad habits are avoided. Left-handed pupils should receive specific teaching to meet their needs

Notes and guidance from National Curriculum:
Pupils should revise and practise correct letter formation frequently. They should be taught to write with a joined style as soon as they can form letters securely with the correct orientation.

Notes and guidance from National Curriculum:
Pupils should be using joined handwriting throughout their independent writing. Handwriting should continue to be taught, with the aim of increasing the fluency with which pupils are able to write down what they want to say. This, in turn, will support their composition and spelling.

Notes and guidance from National Curriculum:
Pupils should continue to practise handwriting and be encouraged to increase the speed of it, so that problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version. They should also be taught to use an unjoined style, for example, for labelling a diagram or data, writing an email address, or for algebra and capital letters, for example, for filling in a form.

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