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How Penmanship Helps Phonics Learning

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“I know penmanship is important, but how does it tie into phonics instruction?”

English is a phonetic language. That means that the letters and groups of letters in words represent the sounds of our speech. When a child is taught to instantly recognize and to write the symbols (alphabet letters) that represent the sounds in his language, he can master the code we call written English for both reading and writing.

As the child learns to write his letters, he needs to also be learning the sounds that they represent. For example, the letter A by itself represents three sounds in English: /a/ /A/ /ah/.  As the child writes, he says these sounds. Four different avenues to his brain are now engaged (writing, speaking, hearing, and seeing). This multi-sensory learning strongly imprints the sound-symbol link for both reading and writing. In other words, as the child learns to write the letters, his brain is also learning how to recognize those letters and the sounds they represent for reading.

Learning to write the letters that he will use to unlock the written code helps create connections between neurons in the brain in ways a keyboard never can. While the child is learning the alphabetic system (phonics), penmanship is intrinsically tied to the process. When we limit reading instruction to the visual modality alone, about 1/3 of the students will struggle to understand. Multi-sensory instruction teaches to every child’s strengths and builds up every child’s weaknesses.

Find out more information about how our award-winning Cursive First program ties both penmanship and phonics together.

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