How Important is Handwriting?

We always hear of children being praised for ‘good handwriting’. Although I’ve heard it more in India than here.

I’ve even heard people praising schools for developing children’s handwriting, sending children for handwriting and calligraphy classes. Our apartment’s email group has emails every few days about someone advertising hand writing lessons, there were even handwriting lessons during the summer hols.

I can’t help wonder why this focus on ‘beautiful handwriting’. While I’m all for clear legible writing, I’m not completely sure if it is necessary to send children to classes for it?

The other day Daughter got into the mode of writing beautifully. Now her normal writing is perfectly fine. You can easily read what she writes. Is it beautiful? I have no idea. I’m it sure I care either, as far as she can communicate effectively. As far as I’m concerned, what she writes is far more important. So as I was saying, she got into the mode of ‘I’m going to write beautifully’. She was so caught up on ‘writing beautifully’, that she ended up with a piece that was substandard, for her. She did not read/review what she wrote, and also made grammatical mistakes that she never does, just because, her whole focus was on making the writing look beautiful.

That to me, is a bigger crime than handwriting that doesn’t look ‘beautiful’. And anyway, does it matter at all? Have you at any point in life felt that you are getting a raw deal because your handwriting isn’t up to the mark? I haven’t. I haven’t even written much since my college days. I don’t know… I just don’t like this craziness about it.

While I can’t get the whole world to change, I just hope I can help daughter focus on what is truly important. That substance more than appearance is what will matter through life. Be that in your writing or anything else.

Edited to add: I published the post earlier, by mistake. It wasn’t complete, and realised only later that it had got published, and you guys have also commented on it. So sorry. My darn phone!

Write – the right way?

In a comment to my previous post, Ash asked me to write down my list! Write, the old fashioned way? Goodness! It has been so long that I have written anything more than my name – while signing it that too, I get horrified if I have to write anything!

I remember taking up some certification in 2002. It was just 3-4 years since I graduated, but I had already forgotten how to write. While studying for the certification, I never practised writing. On the day of the exam, I struggled. It was one thing knowing the answers, writing them down, was just another story! My fingers ached at the end of the exam – I had totally lost practice with writing on paper. The next time I took a certification, I checked first if it was a written paper- there was no way, I was going through that ordeal again. I can study, prepare, stay up nights, wake up early, everything but write another exam!

I used to envy people who come to supermarkets armed with handwritten lists. I find it so cute! Once I found an abandoned list in a shopping trolley. I stood there admiring the handwriting. Gorgeously formed letters, lovely words – almost felt like an ancient, forgotten art. In my previous house, we had a nice board in the kitchen, where we could pin up shopping lists. I always planned to do that, but ended up making lists on my phone in the end, after forgetting to take those lists when I stepped out. At least with my phone, the list is sure to be taken with me. Also it is much easier to use.

So it was after years- 12-13 years of only signing my name, or at the max, filling up forms in capital letters, or signing a card, with a few words, that I realized that I would have to learn to write again. Thanks to daughter. Try as I might to avoid writing, I would still have to write sometime. Sigh! And to add to that, I am used to writing in cursive, while daughter’s school still teaches the other style. So now, I have to learn to write letters without joining them! Can you even imagine it? And when I do write, I realize that daughter has far better handwriting than I do! How on earth can I ask her to work on her handwriting when mine is a scrawl! There was a year, I think it was when she was 3 and in nursery, when I had to write out 35 or so Christmas cards – not easy! Thankfully now she is old enough to write them, so that is one piece of writing I don’t need to do. At least the rest of the mums will not figure out that I am the mum with the worst handwriting!

So maybe, Ash’s suggestion, is after all, a good one.. Writing down lists might actually give me handwriting practice 🙂 Or better still, maybe I should borrow a few of daughter’s handwriting practice books and work on them. And maybe give myself a nice sticker for completing it too 🙂