My sister asked me the other day: I want my son to start learning handwriting. What is the best way to do that? My initial answer was: ‘become an expert so that you can teach it’. Giving it some thought later on made me write this post that I will be editing as I carry on thinking about this topic.
First, child gets used to exploring with the tools. You guide the child in preparing his ink and tries different papers and pens and how these interact, that he becomes aware that different tools yield different results.
The writing instrument to start the handwriting practice is the flat pen or brush. A homemade large bamboo pen with cut broad tip or a big flat and sharp brush are the best writing instruments for educational purposes.
The brush has an advantage, it teaches the control of pressure.
The large writing instrument will make the movement of the whole arm necessary. It is good that the child uses his arm to write, even in small writing.
After preparing the tools, the writing can begin. The best is to present it as a game, were the instructor draws a shape and turns the writing instrument to the child to copy.
Another rule of the game is that the angle of the tip of the brush needs to be constant around 30 degrees. Here lies one of the difficulties of the game.
Short conscious and concentrated practicing sessions are the best.
The bigger the letters, the bigger the white shapes that they enclose will be. Think of a letter o. If you make it very small, if the width of the black stroke is constant, the white space will be relatively to the back area, smaller. A heavy script is good for beginners as the need to control back shapes and white spaces become evident. We can use tip-widths to determine the size of letters, as Edward Johnston suggested. A starting size of letters could be 4 nib-withs high which will give heave writing.
Letters are constructed of stroke-shapes. For the first writing exercises we use regular (see Regular and running construction) pulled stroke-shapes (see The stroke-shape), Stroke-shapes that have a beginning a middle part and an end. Often the beginning and the end show a great swelling.
We can now introduce the first stroke of letter i. An important rule of this game is to keep the brush more or less vertical and we can’t forget about the important rule: the tip of the brush at a constant angle. The idea of it as a game is important, with the person showing the stroke and the child taking turns to write.
We introduce words using the learned stroke such as ni or lin. Now the game is more difficult. On one hand we copy the stroke on the other we make sure the white spaced with and around the letters are balanced. The thickness of the white space between stroke-shapes being approximate twice the area of the stroke-shape itself.
As new letters are introduced the repeated strokes can be emphasised.
Children naturally, want to move on fast, it’s good to remind them that the game’s objective is precision and accuracy not speed.
This is the complete script. It is designed to have a minimum of different strokes. A few basic shapes make up all the letters. Inexpensive material where used to show easily achievable results.