Learning to write without tears at Riverside Elementary

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT) - Even with computers in so many classrooms, students still need to learn the basics and that includes handwriting.

In Lake City, teachers from Riverside Elementary are learning a fun new way to teach handwriting using the "Magic C."

Looking at my notes for this story, I probably should have picked up a few pointers.

The kids in grades Pre-K up to the 4th at Riverside are going to be writing a whole new way and it looks like a lot of fun.

Teaching kids to write has been a part of the 3 "R's"  'reading, 'writing and 'arithmetic since man first scribbled in the dirt. But it's not always easy for students.

Riverside West Principal Leann Harrell was helping put the library back together as the new school year rapidly approached.

"We have found out that many of our students had difficulty in handwriting skills and it causes a lot of stress. We wanted a program that would alleviate some of that stress. So we came up with Handwriting Without Tears. It was originally brought about for children with learning disabilities and we have found that our whole student population benefits from that."

It was decided a year ago to introduce the "Handwriting Without Tears" program into the Riverside elementary program. All the materials were purchased but not an instructor until this week.

Wallace, "We're gonna use teacher modeling and manipulative's to actually learn the process of handwriting."

One of the interesting things about this handwriting technique is there's lot's of singing and dancing, definitely a different approach to handwriting, but techniques the kids will remember. The teachers were a little reluctant to boogie with me in the room but some were getting into the "Writing Rhythms."

Wallace, "Children love to be engaged and that helps get kind of ingrained in their brain when they are using all their body parts because that's multi sensory."

Peter Giroux was the instructor for the program which has been around for a quarter of a century but still fairly new to Arkansas.

The singing is important because it will get everybody on the same sheet of music.

Principal Harrell, "Specific handwriting skills that will be built on in every grade and it will eliminate everyone teaching handwriting in a different manner."

Brandi Wallace says this is better training than she had in teacher education or in her own school days.

"Learning how to teach handwriting. I never had any kind of instruction as far as how to teach handwriting. It was just give them a handwriting sheet and they do it. It's the same way I learned how to do it when I was in school."

Getting into a standardized program from Pre - K will hopefully cause students to worry less about crossing the "T" and dotting the "I's" and concentrate more on using the letters in their schoolwork.

Wallace, "Fluency of being able to write the letters was affecting their writing process. Because they were having a hard time actually making the letters.So they were more concerned about making the letters rather than the content of what they were writing."

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