In Reception, we follow a programme called ‘Write dance’ which was created by Ragnhild Oussorenby in the Netherlands 25 years ago, and has since been developed and updated. Write Dance uses music and movement to introduce younger children to handwriting by using their whole bodies to move in different pathways and shapes, reflecting the movement of the pen on paper for writing letters and numbers, and joined handwriting.
The large scale movements to music allow children to feel happy and comfortable in their bodies, encourage fluid movements and develop strength in the upper body which will develop stamina for sitting at a table to write. This is particularly important as children move up through the school.
After dancing, the children work on large pieces of paper usually on the floor using crayons or felt tips to copy the dance movements. Playing the music as they draw and write helps them to recall movement patterns and sequences, and concentrate better. Children are encouraged to use both hands to support them in choosing a dominant hand, and to develop a comfortable, effective tripod grip.
The Write Dance units focus on themes of interest such as volcanoes, animals and trains. The units build upon previous Write Dance experiences and letters and numbers already introduced, so that they can be revisited and improved over time.
The programme strives to capture children’s interest and develop their confidence in mark making, drawing and writing, as well as giving them the knowledge, strength and dexterity to write letters and numbers with the correct formation in a fluid handwriting style.
When the children know how to write all the letters with correct formation, they will be taught how to join some letters such as oo, oa, ll, which links to their knowledge of digraphs in phonics, and simple common words like it, is, on, the, all. They will be actively encouraged to use the joins they know in all their writing. Some children may want to learn how to write their name in joined handwriting, and this too will be taught and encouraged.
In the spring and summer terms in reception, we work on securing the children at 40-60 months which includes statements about handwriting.
Shows a preference for a dominant hand. Begins to use anticlockwise movement and retrace vertical lines. Begins to form recognisable letters. Uses a pencil and holds it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed.
By the end of the year, it is expected that children achieve the Early Learning Goal for Physical Development.
Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing. (Taken from Development Matters page 24.)
Some children may develop further and move into the exceeding band which states that
They hold paper in position and use their preferred hand for writing, using a correct pencil grip. They are beginning to be able to write on lines and control letter size.
How to hold a pencil (or other writing tool)
Make sure your child holds the pencil in a tripod grip and then he/she will be able to write without getting tired. The pads of the index finger and thumb should be pressed against the pencil. The middle finger can hold the pencil beside the index finger or be placed under the pencil for it to rest on. The last 2 fingers should be tucked into the palm. Your child can rest their forearm on the table.
There is information on the tripod grip on this web page.