Workshop helps teachers tackle importance of handwriting

MILWAUKEE -- At work and in school, we become quite dependent typing on our computers.  But even in the digital age, handwriting is still important.  It helps build the foundation to learning in class.

On Friday, dozens of educators in throughout Wisconsin tackled the task at hand at a workshop called "Handwriting without Tears."  It shows teachers interactive and fun ways to teach little kids the fundamentals of writing, including how to grip a pencil and how to make letters.

“We're shooting for the tripod 3-finger grip. And making letters from top to bottom, left to right to get that good foundation of skill,” said Paula Heinricher, occupational therapist and instructor of the workshop.

She says, surprisingly, many students nowadays enter school without knowing the basics.

“For a lot of years, handwriting has been taken out of the curriculums in our schools.  And I think schools are starting to realize we need to go back to the basics because writing is how kids express what they know,” she said.

“Kids are coming to school not having tools at home to color with and draw with and they're just coming with a blank slate,” said Katie Helke, who teaches K4 in Watertown.

The workshops use a number of songs to teach an old skill in a fun way.

“All the songs have so much language incorporated into them, so they're learning all of those basic concepts that they need to know,” said speech pathologist Tanya Musselman.

Handwriting without Tears” also stresses the importance of getting students to take notes by hand instead of typing, which will help them better comprehend information.

“It's the physical act.  There' s more firing in the brain when we are physically writing than just typing,” said Heinricher.

According to the workshop, studies show the earlier children master handwriting, the more likely they are to succeed in school.