Get the reading right and the writing follows

29th July 2011 at 01:00

Your item on teaching handwriting skills (TES Magazine, 15 July) revived my interest, particularly as BBC TV had a few days earlier reported that in several states in the US keyboard skills are being taught before writing.

In teaching reading and writing together it is usually held that they reinforce each other, being integral parts of the same process.

But teaching the two together from the start demands brain potentials which mature at different ages.

Writing is more complex than reading and calls for an inborn capacity for handeye co-ordination as yet not fully available.

Teaching elementary keyboard skills before writing involves more than knowing letters and where the keys are. Pressing a correct sequence of keys is clearly less complicated than shaping letters by hand.

My experience is that reading can be accelerated and that, at a slightly later stage of development, writing skills are more readily learned with the confidence more legibly and fluently to put ideas, feelings and verbal statements into script.

Peter Cox, Retired lecturer in educational psychology and special educational needs, Nottingham University.

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