And is it worth teaching children how to write by hand even though we are living and working in a digital age?
These were 2 of the questions I was recently invited to answer as a speaker for the Virtual Awards Ceremony to Honour the Very First Certified Handwriting Specialist Teachers in The World.
This virtual event was the bold initiative of Melanie Harwood of Harwood Education set up for National Handwriting Day on Saturday 23rd January and featured many talks from a variety of speakers from across the globe.
I was really honoured to take part – I passionately believe that handwriting has many uses even in this digital age – and you can see my talk by visiting my page for the event by clicking here or by watching it below:-
Background to the event
From her work as an Education Specialist and founder of the Start-Bee handwriting method, Melanie Harwood knew that all children around the world would be struggling without their handwriting lessons, as a result of being at home during the lockdown and many would even be left to their own devices with little or no handwriting being learned at all.
Harwood agreed to deliver her online Handwriting Assessment Teacher Training, in the hope that these specialist teachers will study further to become Doctors of Handwriting in schools throughout the world. She then felt that she wanted to honour these teachers who had been honing this specialist skill:-
“And what better way than to honour them with an Awards Ceremony?! I reached out on social media for people to speak about the importance and personal value they hold for handwriting.
The response was simply overwhelming” – Melanie Harwood
I was asked to speak about the importance and personal value that I hold for handwriting and to answer the 2 crucial questions I asked at the beginning – did I feel that handwriting is a core life skill? And was it worth teaching children how to write by hand even though we are living and working in a digital age?
In my talk I focus on the 3 main reasons why I find handwriting to be so important:-
- As a core life skill – for me it is an absolute necessity needed to capture a moment of your life – whether it’s a note to remember something, a shopping list or a love letter. The ability to be able to write something down with pen and paper is essential for a free flowing and organised life.
- As a wonderful creative tool – it’s where all writing creativity begins, with a blank piece of paper and a pen. Even though there are digital options, it is incredibly important to be able to write by hand too. For it sometimes feels that there is a direct link between the hand and the soul/intuition – I see it as a channel of inspiration that flows through you, like a river, down your arm and onto the paper. (You can read more about my process of writing, in my blog On Writing the Birthday BOO!)
- As a healing tool – getting your feelings down on paper is a cathartic way to vent your frustrations, letting your anger or fear out. It doesn’t matter what you write and no one else needs to see it, (probably better if they don’t!) but it is very satisfying and helps you to move on.
I finish off by saying that being able to write by hand has been crucial to the well being, satisfaction and stability of my life. Without it, my life would have been much more chaotic and frustrating – not being able to record my thoughts and feelings on paper would have been almost unbearable.
And although there are digital options now, the practicalities and the completely different experience of being able to write something by hand, cannot be underestimated. It contains a joy and delight that is wholly unique and we would be much poorer and more limited without it.
The benefits of handwriting
As the Harwood Education surmises, handwriting:-
- Improves Your Ability to Learn – When you take handwritten notes you are more able to remember more than when you take notes via keyboarding.
- Improves Your Ability to Think Analytically – Handwriting increases connectivity of both hemispheres of the brain which activates more areas for analysis. With accurate analysis, you are more able to clearly and calmly tackle any situation or challenge and generate solutions.
- Improves Your Ability to Problem-Solve – As you handwrite notes for thoughts, calculations, reflections, planning, and discovering, you are more able to process information and develop innovative ideas.
- Improves Your Self-Expression – With efficient and enjoyable handwriting, you are more able to express all of those innovative ideas, creative solutions, personality, creativity, ingenuity, and energy. You are also more able to quickly rebound from set-backs and obstacles so that you can effortlessly get back on track.
The Virtual Awards Ceremony certainly helped to cement the importance of handwriting today:-
“Don’t ever think that children do not need to learn to write. It is a life skill and the many talks delivered are a testament to its power and pull even now in this digital age.”
You can learn more about Harwood Education and the Start-Bee handwriting method here.
Alison Reddihough is the writer and co-founder of Tickled Moon, who create heartwarming and original personalised children’s books.