Importance for handwriting in schools is deteriorating, say experts

Pushpa teacher's class of 30 students is a diverse group. As the Standard V students have the option of using either a pencil or pen, Ms. Pushpa has at least three categories of children. One group writes with pen, the second group is not very confident with the pen so often goes back to the pencil, while the third is a small percentage which only uses the pencil.

The transition from pencil to pen is an important shift for primary class students as it makes them more responsible for their work. Good handwriting skills imparted in the lower classes by practising to write legible letters with pencil results in a strong foundation, say graphology experts.

“But, the importance given to handwriting in schools is deteriorating as there is no prescribed book or syllabus or period,” says P. Mohanakannan, handwriting therapist, Growel Skills, a handwriting academy. He says some schools introduce pens from Standard III, which should not be forced upon or encouraged.

From learning the letters on the four-ruled book to the double ruled and single ruled, experts say writing has to become a habit before a pen is introduced. “We introduce pens in the beginning of Class V, but it is a flexible option for children. There are students who continue writing with pencil until the year ends, but they are the ones who are very meticulous with their work and come out with the best handwriting later,” says Pushpa Gopal, Standard V teacher, Chettinad Harishree Vidyalayam.

While writing with ball-point pen is a strict ‘no' in most schools, a variety of gel pens have come as a close match for the fountain pens. Teachers say as far as one starts writing with a pen that is rough on the paper such as fibre-tip pen and fountain pen, the handwriting is not affected.

All these years, Maria Mathew was used to holding the pencil in one hand and the eraser in the other while writing, but since the class got introduced to the ink pen, the teacher has instructed them not to use a whitener or an eraser. “It's good because most of us have got more careful while writing but then the teacher gets to see how many mistakes we make,” says the Standard V student of St. Michael's Academy

Most of the school board examinations do not allot marks for the handwriting but evaluators say a good writing makes correction easy and is the first impression.

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