RMDS Handwriting Policy 2002 - Updated 2014


Background of Handwriting Policy:

This policy was reviewed in 2002.  It was updated in 2014.

This policy contains:

1)      General points on the teaching of handwriting;

2)      Attainment targets for each class;

3)      Examples of letter formation to be used throughout the school;

4)      Sample practice sheets extracted from the material in the Handwriting Resource File.


Attention is drawn to the following points:


1)      All classes should display an alphabet appropriate to their class on the wall or on the desks.  This should be sent home to parents at the beginning of the year to enable them to assist their children during homework. (See handwriting scheme in RMDS).

2)      Pencils will be used from Junior Infants to Fourth Class, handwriting pens in Fifth and Sixth Classes.

3)      Handwriting is a skill and as such will be developed through consistent practice.  All classes should ensure a period of revision of handwriting skills at the beginning of each term.

4)      Teachers should use the appropriate script at all times when writing on the whiteboard and on wall charts. The best font to use if printing  for the class is comic sans ms.

5)      It is important that handwriting should not be seen as a separate “subject” and that any new skills the children learn should be implemented throughout all of their written work.

6)      The revised curriculum suggests that by 3rd/4th Class, the child should be able to ‘write in a legible joined script with confidence and fluency’

Practice Sheets:

There is a file of appropriate material for practice for all classes in the staffroom. This is especially suitable for rang 3 to rang 6 who do not have a handwriting text. In relation to the this material, there may be slight discrepancies in style with that in use in the school.  This is most likely in the case of the letter R for the senior classes.  Teachers should check this material before photocopying and if necessary make one copy and correct with the aid of Tippex.  This material can be used for general class work but should also prove useful when dealing with the weak writer who needs extra practice, who perhaps has not attained the desired level of skill.

In addition there is material for children who have particular difficulty with handwriting due to special educational needs.

Handwriting Textbooks:

The handwriting series, All Write Now (Folens) is in use from junior Infants to Rang 2. The Letterland Programme is also used in RMDS in the infant classes.

Assessment of Handwriting:

In assessing the handwriting of the individual pupil, the following features might be considered:

  • general legibility – the all important feature
  • adherence to the style that has been taught, (e.g. mixtures of styles should be avoided)
  • regularity of handwriting, (e.g. size of letters; spaces between words / sentences or at margins; placing of writing exactly on the line)
  • attention to conventions, (e.g. CAPITAL letters used correctly; punctuation of correct size, properly placed)
  • presentation on the page, (e.g. margins; placing of headings or numbers)
  • overall appearance, (e.g. cleanliness; evenness; appropriate level of childishness).


Assessment of handwriting

From Junior infants to rang 2, the assessment checklists in the pupil books should be completed

Self assessment:

A major contribution to a good standard of handwriting derives from the degree to which the pupil is aware of what is required in matters such as correct letter shapes, correct letter sizes, appropriate spacing, the way in which text is placed in relation to the left-hand margin etc.

In this regard, a set of classroom handwriting rules might be adopted to support pupil self assessment. For example:


Middle Classes:

  • Did I leave equal spaces between words?
  • Did I leave slightly larger spaces between sentences?
  • Did I make all tall letters and CAPITAL letters the same height?
  • Did I put all full stops sitting on the bottom line?

Senior Classes:

Ask yourself: Did I

-          Make sure all capital letters are the same height?

-          Make sure all spaces between words are the same size?

-          Make sure the tails of g, f, j and y are the same?

-          Make sure d and t are not as tall as b, h, k and l?

Pupils should be encouraged to check the finished page to establish that they have complied with the rules.

Handwriting Speeds:

Studies of handwriting speeds have shown that there are often wide variations in pupils’ performances in this regard.  Even when an effort is made to control variables that might influence speed, (e.g. pupils might be asked to write carefully or to do their ‘best handwriting’), it has been observed that some pupils write twice or three times as fast as those who are slowest.  In this connection, the following suggestions are offered:

a)      pupils of above average ability whose handwriting speeds are very low should be given extra practice with a view to helping them achieve ‘average’ speeds or better

b)      in the senior classes of the primary school, it is sometimes considered useful to allow pupils to write more quickly – and, consequently, with less than full adherence to the rules and conventions of the formal style – when taking notes or doing other ‘fast’ writing.  The highest possible standards should however be encouraged in all ‘good’ writing.

c)      Pupils write fastest when they are engaged in personal writing that does not require pauses for thinking, for checking out information or searching for correct spellings.  They usually achieve lower speeds when copying from the blackboard or from books.


Adherence to a fixed style of handwriting:

Individuality of style of handwriting is acceptable provided that the degree of legibility is adequate.  It is unlikely that all pupils will reach maximum competence in a style of handwriting, however diligently the style is taught.  It is sometimes suggested that about one-third will achieve a very good level of correctness and the final one-third of pupils will deviate significantly from the style.  Higher standards can be achieved if handwriting practice is continued into the senior classes of the primary school: for some, such extended practice will be essential.


Posture for Writing:

  • Children should be encouraged to sit well back on the chairs in order to gain maximum stability.
  • Children should have their feet firmly on the floor.
  • Children should not sit hunched over their writing.  This is generally caused by the child being too tall for the chair and table provided.
  • Both hands / arms should be resting on the writing surface.  The free hand should be used to control the paper.

(See additional notes in handwriting file)

Writing Implements:

  • As a rule of thumb, the thicker the barrel of the pencil, the easier it is to produce fine motor control.  If children are experiencing problems with pencil control, a pencil grip may alleviate the problem.  Small chunky pencils are recommended for children trying to master the correct pencil grip. A supply of such pencils and of pencil grips should be available in the infant classes.
  • Children do need to experiment with as wide a variety of implements as possible, from wax crayons to felt-tipped pens.


Pen Holds:


The tripod grip is recommended. Hold the pen between the thumb and the first finger with the second finger acting as a support.  Many children adopt this style very quickly.  However, an alternative pen hold has been suggested by Rosemary Sassoon where the pencil is held between the index and the middle finger; this can offer a more comfortable hold and greater pencil control, (see Teaching Handwriting, Stanley Thornes).  Care should be taken to prevent children adopting awkward or tense pencil holds, since this will restrict the speed of their writing as they get older.


Helping the Left-Hander:

  • Left handers should be monitored to ensure that they are not experiencing any specific difficulties.  The usefulness of having them sitting on the left hand side of the desk should be borne in mind.
  • The folder contains a sheet showing alternative letter formation for left-handers.  It is not intended that this be taught to all left-handers but is kept as a resource for teachers when dealing with a left-handed child with specific difficulties.
  • If possible, demonstrate letter formation with your left hand.
  • A pencil grip can be helpful, as left-handers tend to grip very hard.  The pencil grip, by thickening the pencil and preventing the fingers from slipping, does relieve some of the pressure.
  • Ensure the child has enough space.  S/he should not be knocking either the wall or a friend.
  • Encourage the child to try to hold the pencil farther from the point.  This enables the lift-hander to see what she has written.
  • The paper should be positioned to the left of centre and tilted slightly to the right to give more freedom of movement.  Young children often find this rather disturbing and will need gentle but frequent encouragement.

(Additional notes in handwriting file)


Handwriting Resource File:


A Hand for Spelling Activity Book 1-4

Handwriting – A Second Chance

Handwriting Patterns                          [Scholastic]

Handwriting Practice                          [Scholastic]

Handwriting Activities                       [Scholastic]

Fallons Handwriting System  -           Teachers Resource Book/Textbooks

I Can Write [Folens]               -           Textbooks

Learn to Write [Education Co.]    -     Textbooks


The resource file also contains a folder of suitable worksheets for each class as well as some teaching notes.

There is also a resource file entitled Handwriting without Tears - A Sensory Motor Approach.

Additional resource materials for children who are experiencing particular difficulties with handwriting or for those with SEN affecting their handwriting are also available from the resource teachers. See SEN policy.




Handwriting scheme in RMDS

junior hw s               junior hw


Rang 2

hw 2


Rang 3

r3 hw


Rang 4 – Rang 6

r4 hw


Points for future discussion

  • Should we introduce a cursive script from Junior Infants?
  • Assessment of handwriting?
  • Participation in INTO or similar in house handwriting competition?


Success criteria

  • Teachers’ preparation is based on this plan
    • Procedures outlined in this plan consistently followed
    • Positive Feedback from teachers/parents/pupils/community regarding the standard of handwriting in RMDS



Ratification and review


This policy will be regularly reviewed in line with school priorities


This policy was ratified by the RMDS Board of Management at its meeting of November 2014






Signed                                                 (Chairperson)


Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School,
Ranelagh Road,
Dublin 6.
T: +353 1 496 1722