Poor handwriting may lead to anxiety & low-self esteem
A study in 2014, found that anxiety is one of the most common causes of distress in children and young people in the classroom, affecting as many as one in five primary school children. (Anxiety UK, A Guide for Parents and Carers). Anxiety and poor self-confidence in the classroom are not always easy to identify. At times, it can be more obvious, for example when a child is feeling nervous before a test. Other times, anxiety may appear in a completely different form, such as disruptive behaviour, ADHD or even displayed in a learning disorder such as dyslexia. Although hard to detect in the classroom, all different kinds of anxiety have one thing in common, says neurologist Ken Schuster: “Anxiety tends to lock up the brain, making school hard for anxious children.”
Studies showing how poor handwriting may lead to anxiety and low self-esteem
Studies have shown that at least 10 to 15% of children in the classroom suffering from poor self- confidence, anxiety or attention deficit disorder. However, is extremely important that teachers are aware of how to spot early problems in a child’s handwriting. It is not unusual for a teacher to label handwriting as “messy” or “lazy”. This, however, can often contribute to a child’s low self-esteem and anxiety. This could result in a pupil losing incentive and believe that they are unintelligent and incapable of writing correctly. Research shows that pupils may suffer a loss of self-esteem because they are seemingly outpaced by their peers who complete classroom written work more quickly (Feder & Majnemer, 2007).
The classroom and its impact
Handwriting is a major factor in the classroom and is usually taught from a young age. When a child begins to doubt his or her ability to write correctly anxiety can become a major factor in the production of handwriting, confidence and flow of thought. This can subsequently have a serious impact on the ability to progress with learning handwriting correctly. This may result in the child dreading school, avoiding doing homework. They may also feel overly self-critical, avoid group work or even receive a diagnosed of having a learning disorder.
Evidence relating poor handwriting and low self-esteem
Evidence by the National Handwriting Association suggests that difficulties in handwriting can very often be overcome with good, clear teaching. More severe problems may persist into adolescence and beyond if appropriate intervention is not given. Therefore, it is important to tackle handwriting problems while a child is young.
Unfortunately, the problem of anxiety-related handwriting problems cannot simply be overcome by using a computer. There will always be everyday circumstances where handwriting is needed. In addition to this, handwriting helps the flow of ideas and thoughts in a way which keyboarding doesn’t. In view of this proven research, it is fundamental that a child learns to write correctly.
One on one teaching, or clear group teaching, to address the root problems of messy or illegible handwriting, can make a significant difference to a child’s classroom experience and can have a positive impact as they grow older. The Magic Link Handwriting Programme teaches neat, cursive handwriting in 30 simple steps and can be taught to a class or individually. Handwriting is a fundamental aspect of day-to-day life. Learning to write correctly is likely to result in avoidance of further anxiety, embarrassment or poor self-esteem.
The effects of poor handwriting can carry over into adulthood in job applications or materials for admission to college or trade school. Poor or illegible handwriting continues to be a source of judgment: sloppy handwriting is often interpreted as sloppy thinking – which we all know is certainly not the case.