Step study – children’s handwriting has changed negatively under Corona

According to a study, children’s handwriting has changed during the pandemic (picture alliance / dpa)

Handwriting was and is more of a boy’s problem than a girl’s problem. Even before the pandemic, almost half of the boys in primary and secondary schools had handwriting problems. And these problem writers have now gotten even worse, says Marianela Diaz Meyer, CEO of the Schreibmotorik Institute. Because the students who needed special individual support in class came further behind in the pandemic.

“This is especially true for boys, where three-quarters of teachers experienced a small or even severe decline in handwriting performance,” she says.

Teachers see negative development in children’s handwriting

Specifically, it means: You write even slower, unstructured and even more unreadable. Even with students who are good at writing, every fourth teacher sees a negative development. For many elementary school students, teachers had to start from scratch, says the handwriting expert. Distance learning would have exacerbated these problems.

“I might quote a teacher who says that after a long period of homeschooling, she had to teach her students a lot again. For example, writing from left to right margin. ”

Another discovery: writing by hand hurts many people and makes them tired. The children get up faster. Teachers have found that not even half of them can write more than half an hour without problems, says the expert.

Children with little support have fallen further behind in the pandemic

The Education Association (VBE) and the Schreibmotorik-Institutet surveyed 850 teachers from primary and secondary schools for the study on handwriting skills. Almost everyone sees for themselves the reasons for the increased problems in distance learning. Learning to write simply does not work particularly well via teams and zoom, says Udo Beckmann, VBE chairman.

“It needs the appreciative support of a teacher who keeps an eye on the whole process. Correcting an incorrect sitting position and pressing down too hard cannot be done from the screen, ”says Beckmann.

Other reasons for the increasing illegibility: too much time in front of computer and tablet and too little exercise. Children also practice motor skills in playing ball games or skateboarding.

The Steps study shows once again that especially children who received less support at home – and who were still weaker, during the pandemic came further back, says Beckmann. “The discovery that survivors are further back confirms what other studies have revealed in recent years, namely that educational injustice has continued to grow.”

Also, continue practicing handwriting in high school

But is writing still relevant? Due to the corona pandemic, even the digitally backward schools in Germany have now caught up in the digitalisation. Beckmann and Diaz-Meyer clearly say yes: For handwriting is not just about preserving a cultural technique.

“For learning, for children’s cognitive development, it is important to use handwriting, the handwritten movements. It has been proven that this increases memory, understanding of content and creativity. This also applies to adults, not just children. Various neuroscientific studies have confirmed this. ”

To improve the handwriting again, Diaz-Meyer recommends that you start scribbling in preschool and practice for a longer period of time. It is important to support children after 5th grade. “Studies show that the full automation of handwriting – that is, that you no longer think about how to hold the pen – only starts at the age of 15,” says Diaz-Meyer.

Handwriting practice should also be a topic in high school – at least one hour a week. “It’s not about introducing a new topic. The teachers must be aware, it must be a cross-cutting task. “

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