Parent: “Why do you spend so much time insisting that the children write their words on manuscript paper? The school says handwriting doesn’t matter. I sent my child to you for help in reading.”
Handwriting and reading are connected. If the brain cannot recognize the words that a child writes, the brain is not going to learn those words. Sally Shaywitz, M. D. (2003), a specialist in working with dyslexic children, says that handwriting is one of the critical steps in “rewiring the brain.” Many neuropsychologists believe that children who struggle to learn to read can indeed be taught to read, but we must “rewire” or as I say “retrain” the brain. Therefore, improving a child’s handwriting is one of the first steps in helping a child learn to read. It is not enough to just be able to sing the alphabet song. The child must be able to identify and say the name of each alphabet letter. Then, the child must be able to write the letters correctly. The child must also be able to give the sound or sounds for each letter. In some cases, letters have only one sound. However, most letters, especially the vowels, have several sounds. As children learn to write and shape their letters correctly, they are training their brains to recognize and identify that letter when they see it in a story or a word. So, the first step in learning to read is to learn to identify and write the alphabet letters correctly. The next step is to learn the letter sounds.