Teaching Handwriting in Kindergarten

Over the past few years, my grade level team has been working with the first grade teachers to find out ways we can support our students to be ready for and to be successful in first grade.  One of the areas the firstie teachers have asked us to focus on is letter formation and handwriting.

Most of my students come in writing many letters (mostly uppercase) in various ways with varying pencil grips.  Our former principal purchased the Handwriting Without Tears program for us several years ago and that's where we started.  It got us all on the same page, using the same language, and helped us with direct handwriting instruction.  We didn't follow the entire program...but we tried to do what we could.  Yet, the first grade teachers still felt our kiddos needed more.

So, this year, I stepped it up and started daily handwriting stations to build fine motor and to encourage proper letter formation.  We start with a 5 minute mini lesson on how to write the letter of the week.  The HWT program has some fun songs to go along with the different types of letters.  My kinders love to sing along!  Then we move into the stations.  Here's what they look like:

Station 1: Handwriting Without Tears practice books

Station 2: iPads: Wet Dry Try App
At the beginning of the year, I have my students use their fingers to form the letter on the app.  In October, we switch to using this stylus. 

Station 3: Pokey Pin Letters
(These are from Krissy at Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business)

Station 4:  Handwriting Without Tears Magnet Boards
The kids practice stamping the letter on the board and then writing it with the stylus.

We do one letter per week.  The kids rotate through one station each day, for four days.  The stations take less than 10 minutes.  

After getting through about 2/3 of the alphabet, I noticed that although my kiddos would write their letters correctly during stations, it wasn't transferring to the way they were writing in general.  Don't get me wrong, their fine motor is definitely stronger!  But, many of my students still start their letters from the bottom or have bad habits with how they form letters.

So, I 'm wondering...is handwriting, or specifically proper letter formation, something you can teach or is it more developmental?  And, how important is proper letter formation?  If students' handwriting is appropriate, legible, and improving, how much does it matter how they write them?  I know that there is a lot of research out there and everyone has their own opinion...

What do you think?

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