1. WHO IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME FOR?
(i) The pre-cursive (non-joined) programme is for younger children aged 5-6 years old (Reception and Year 1) teaches letter formation, height and spacing in words and sentences. At the end of this programme, children may continue directly to step 4 of the cursive handwriting programme and learn how to join neatly and simply.
(ii) The cursive (joined-up) course is designed for 6-18 + olds, in school year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and upwards. It is perfect for primary and secondary school pupils as well as adults. It has been created for everyone who wants to learn to learn neat, fluent, joined-up cursive handwriting. This programme includes capital letters, punctuation and number formation. No prior knowledge of joined-up writing is needed.
This programme is suitable for all children who have bad or messy handwriting and struggle with their handwriting. Includes children with dyslexia, hypermobility, dysgraphia, ADHD, children who have Asperger’s syndrome and SEN children. Also for high achievers and gifted pupils who have messy handwriting and wish to improve.
2. HOW LONG DOES THE PROGRAMME TAKE TO COMPLETE?
(i) The 15-step NON joined (print) programme for 5-year-olds, can take around 4-6 months to complete. Younger children need more time to consolidate letters, words and sentences.
(ii) The 30-step joined-up programme
Home- users can take around 4 – 6 weeks to complete the 30 steps. Or, this can be completed in only one or two weeks by older children who are 8 years and over and if followed intensively. Each level (which is 10 steps) can take around 2-4 weeks.
School-users can take around 4 months or longer as there are more disruptions and school holidays. This may take longer if used with a large group or in a classroom or can be faster with smaller groups or individuals. It is advisable to follow two steps at least twice (or three times) a week for at least 40 minutes. The more often the lessons, the quicker the programme can be completed.
All children must be supervised to ensure they are following the steps correctly. The words and ‘silly sentences’ must be copied onto wide-ruled lined paper A4 size as the transfer of good handwriting onto standard, lined paper is crucial to success.
3. MY CHILD IS REALLY STRUGGLING WITH THE PENCIL GRIP AND RELUCTANT TO CHANGE. WHAT DO I DO?
Changing the grip takes time and it is normal for children to need a lot of reminding in every step. A wrap-around thumb makes handwriting awkward and hides the letters. Always use a triangular-shaped pen or pencil and encourage ‘frog’s legs fingers’ and eventually this grip will become easier and more natural. A further reminder can be seen on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxdUlX6lTHc
4. WHAT AGE IS THE MAGIC LINK PROGRAMME FOR?
(i) The NON-joined-up is suitable for 5 year-olds. (ii) The CURSIVE (Joined-up) programme is recommended age 6 to 18-year olds. It can be used for primary and secondary school children as well as adults.
5. HOW MUCH OF THE PROGRAMME SHOULD I DO A DAY?
Younger children, aged 5-6 yrs, should do about 20 minutes a day.
Children who are over 6 can do 40-45 mins twice or three times a week. Keep practising the exercises on a separate sheet of A4 lined paper with a margin.Homework involves copying out the ‘silly sentences’ to encourage the transfer of skills away from the exercise sheets and onto other paper. Once the homework is written neatly, continue to the next step.
6. WHEN SHOULD THE MAGIC LINK TRANSFER INTO SCHOOL WORK?
It is important to be patient as this happens towards the end of the programme and does not happen immediately!
Throughout each step, the pupil will be able to see how the letters and words should look like. Adults or teachers should supervise and ensure that pupils are writing the letters and words as instructed. Transfer of neat, cursive writing is NOT expected until towards the end of the programme i.e step 30 and should start to embed naturally into school work. It is vital to keep practising the ‘silly sentences’ in previous steps so that the motor movement becomes faster and more natural.
Step 30 includes consolidation exercises which encourage transfer into school work.
7. IS THIS PROGRAMME APPROPRIATE FOR HOME-SCHOOLING?
Absolutely! This programme is perfect for the home-schooled child. It does not require any training classes. Simply write in the workbooks or the printable worksheets and follow the instructions on the video.
8. DOES THIS PROGRAMME WORK FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR DYSGRAPHIA?
Yes -this programme is made for any child who wants to have fun and learn to write by following a simple, systematic, logical method. Parents and teachers of children with special needs have been amazed seeing such remarkable results; often spelling begins to suddenly improve for the first time!
9. WHAT IF MY CHILD IS ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM?
The Magic Link handwriting programme particularly appeals to children who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome or who are diagnosed with high-functioning autism. They respond particularly well to the logic of this programme and the repetition and have achieved fantastic results. These children often become more and more self-motivated as their handwriting continues to improve throughout each step of the programme.
10. WHAT IF MY CHILD IS HYPERMOBILE, HAS DYSPRAXIA OR DYSGRAPHIA?
Many hundreds of children who have been diagnosed as being hypermobile or having dyspraxia or dysgraphia and have achieved neat and legible handwriting after following the Magic Link Handwriting Programme. This programme teaches children how to hold a pencil or pen in a comfortable way and how to combine letters together using a logical, structured and easy-to-follow method.
11. WHAT IF MY CHILD’S GRIP ON A PENCIL IS TOO WEAK TO WRITE?
There are many reasons for a weak grip on a pencil or pen. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist may provide exercises for gross and fine motor skills but sadly, not many occupational therapists work directly on handwriting. Most children find following the 30 video steps extremely motivating as the process of handwriting is broken down into small steps, which makes the learning process as easy as possible. The #1 goal is for pupils to feel confident and motivated. Children may require assistance multiple times before they get “the hang of it”, and that is fine. Teach at their pace, and make it enjoyable! Remember that children must practice what they have learned for homework and adults should correct any errors.
12. HOW IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME STRUCTURED?
The 15- step non-joined-up programme teaches letter height, spacing and formation vowel by vowel. Capital letters and numbers are also taught. Music and top tips are shown and are for younger children aged 5-6 years old.
The 30- step cursive programme has been compiled to work through each vowel and vowel combination using a highly-structured method. Before writing can begin, the technique of how to hold a pencil or pencil is explained. (step one.) Each vowel worksheet is colour coded. Music and ‘top tips’ are included to ensure that learning to write can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Capital letters, punctuation and numbers are also taught in this programme. After every step on the online version, there is a colourful, cartoon animation to motivate younger children and to provide fun and humour. A ‘Certificate of Achievement’ is provided as a reward at the end of the programme.
13. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO FOLLOW THE PROGRAMME INSTRUCTIONS?
It is very important that the instructions are followed carefully and precisely. In order to help a pupil learn without frustration, parents, teachers, and therapists should treat this handwriting programme as a learning tool and move at the child’s pace. Copying out the ‘silly sentences’ should be encouraged for homework so that each step can be reinforced and consolidated.
14. HOW OFTEN SHOULD PUPILS FOLLOW THE VIDEO LESSONS?
Try to follow the programme for 30-40 minutes once or twice or even three times a week. The more frequent the lessons, the faster the course can be completed. Do not try to rush through this programme. It is advisable to have at least one or two days in between to practise the words and sentences. It is important to practise the words or silly sentences twice a day before continuing on to the next step.
15. MY CHILD IS STRUGGLING. CAN THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME HELP?
Definitely! Some children do not enjoy writing because of early failures and lack of confidence, while other children struggle to retain the many skills and concepts needed to have neat, fluent handwriting. Following the 30 clear video steps on the computer is a great way for children and adults to build skills. They can progress at their own rate and if they struggle, lessons can be repeated as many times as they want. The programme has been successful with pupils with learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorder, students who are hypermobile and many other people struggling with their handwriting. For children with handwriting difficulties, repetition is one of the keys to success and the Magic Link handwriting programme has ‘silly sentences’ to copy and repeat at the end of each step.
16. HOW WILL I KNOW THAT MY CHILD IS MAKING PROGRESS?
Throughout each step, the pupil must copy the worksheets to see how his or handwriting should look like. it is important for an adult or teacher to supervise a child or a group of children as they go through each of the steps to ensure that they are writing the letters and words as instructed. Once the ‘silly sentences’ are written correctly the pupil can continue to the next step. Transfer of neat, cursive writing is NOT expected until the end of the programme i.e step 30, so please be patient! It is vital to keep practising the words or sentences so that the motor movement becomes faster and more natural.
17. HOW FAR DOES THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME GO?
The programme is a sequential series of 30 steps that start at a complete beginner’s level. It develops essential writing skills in a progression that will take an illegible, messy writer through to neat, flowing, joined-up, cursive handwriting. The final step consolidates what has been learnt and makes suggestions to develop writing skills.
18. ARE THERE WORKSHEETS TO GO WITH THE PROGRAMME?
Yes, the Magic Link handwriting programme comes with colour-coded worksheets. The online programme has worksheets which must be printed out for every step. The worksheets match the video programme and the pupil simply watches the video and copies the handwriting method. The worksheets are coloured according to the vowel, and the pupil has to progress through the colours. Research shows that the act of writing is an excellent way to reinforce reading and phonic skills. The pupil must print out the worksheets and practise the words and sentences as many times as required. Copying out these sentences again onto standard A4 lined paper is an excellent way of encouraging the transfer of good handwriting.
19. WHEN IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING TRANSFERRED TO SCHOOLWORK?
Transfer of Magic Link handwriting into school work is NOT expected until the end of the programme. On the last step, step 30, there are consolidation exercises which encourage the transfer of Magic Link cursive writing into everyday work. In this final step, pupils are provided with free writing exercises aimed to reinforce, consolidate and transfer their neat, cursive handwriting.
Step 30 introduces literacy skills for primary and secondary pupils to transfer neat handwriting into all aspects of schoolwork. The mechanics of writing should now be automatic and allow the pupil to focus on content, rather than on the physical act of writing.
20. WHAT IF MY CHILD WON’T CO-OPERATE WITH THE VIDEO LESSONS?
It is often common for children not to listen to their own parents. (I have also experienced the same!) Always try to avoid battles and keep calm. Maybe try to allocate a different adult, a respected teenager, a nanny, friend, neighbour or an older sibling. Even if this is only for a short while, to give a different dynamic. It may also help to occasionally ‘swap’ with another parent so you can teach each other’s children if this is a practical option. Another strategy you could try is to make sure your child writes the word correctly and then you leave the room whilst they are repeating the line. Always praise efforts!
21. WHAT IF MY CHILD ARGUES WITH ME?
This depends on the dynamic between parent (or adult) and the child. Try to avoid battles and keep calm. It can be motivating to show your child what the end result will look like and to discuss the benefits of having good handwriting. (see section on ‘The Importance of Good Handwriting’) Candy, healthy treats or other age-related incentives often help. A reward for finishing the programme may also motivate. For the online, video programme, click on the cartoon animation at the end of each step as a reward and use the cartoon story as a motivator to continue with the next step. What does not help is to shout, fight and argue.
22. WHY DO LEE’S TWO FINGERS TOUCH IN THE VIDEO, WHEN THE INSTRUCTION IS TO ALWAYS LEAVE A SPACE?
In order for the camera to focus in on the video demonstrations, Lee had to write at an awkward angle, which made her fingers touch. However, you must not copy this and you should always try to keep a small gap between your two fingers, as explained in step one ‘Getting Ready to Write’ and as demonstrated throughout the programme. To see the video showing the “7 Points to Remember Before you Write” see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr3S8tgFg38
23. WHAT IF MY CHILD IS LEFT-HANDED?
We have had many left-handed children use our programme, all reporting great success. Letter formations should be made the same way regardless of which hand is used. As with all our users, we encourage parents and teachers to help guide the child to follow the programme correctly. Left-handers should try to keep their wrist under the line and slant the page to the right to maintain a good, clear vision of words and sentences.
24. DO I NEED TO ADAPT MY CHILD’S HOMEWORK?
The 2 main factors to consider is that the pupil continues to write on 8mm wide lined paper as the use of plain paper or other paper can be confusing. A triangular pen/pencil is also recommended and it is vital that a good tripod grip is maintained from the start. If using a Faber-Castell pencil, it is always useful to remind the pupil that there should be ‘4 dots’ under both fingers of the pencil hand. (See pic below)
25. IS THERE HOMEWORK TO GO WITH THE PROGRAMME?
After each step, it is vitally important to copy out the ‘silly sentences’ for homework. There is extra paper at the back of the programme should they need it. Otherwise, re-write these sentences onto standard, lined A4, good quality paper, which has a margin. These silly sentences make writing fun, improve motivation and reinforce the words that are taught in each step.
26. WHY DOESN’T THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME TEACH THE SHORT WORDS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER?
The programme has been designed to teach pupils to write neatly as quickly as possible in a structured and logical way. The initial video lesson is ‘Getting Ready to Write’. After this, there are exercises explaining letter heights, formation and spacing which are the crucial foundation before writing words and sentences. As the programme continues the words are taught in their vowel groups. This is why the programme does not progress in alphabetical order. The Magic Link handwriting programme is all about learning the skills, strategies and foundations in a simple and logical way. Pupils learn the essential skills to good handwriting as well as undoing all the bad habits which may have been learnt along the way.
27. IF MY CHILD’S TEACHER USES EXTREMELY WIDE-LINED PAPER OR PLAIN PAPER WHAT SHOULD I DO?
It is very important to be consistent and use standard, wide-ruled, 8mm paper, which has a margin. This will reinforce letter heights in a format that replicates many exercise books and wide-ruled file paper. Varying the size of the paper confuses children and often results in bad handwriting. Because of this, I would recommend, with your teachers permission, to substitute and glue the correct lined paper in your child’s book.
28. CAN THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME BE TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM?
Yes – it is possible for a whole class to follow the video programme. This has been tried and tested very successfully. Class pupils enjoy following the video steps but need to clearly see the projector or computer screen. It is also advisable for one or two adults to supervise the pupils to ensure they are following the steps correctly. Pupils often need a lot of reminding to sit up straight and to hold their pencil correctly as they forget.
29. WHAT IF THE CHILD IS NOT USING MAGIC LINK IN SCHOOL WORK?
Schoolwork must always use standard, A4, lined paper with a margin and copy out the ‘silly sentences’ every day to encourage the transfer of Magic Link handwriting. There is a lot to learn throughout each of the 30 steps. This included letter spacing, size, formation, letter combinations, numbers and punctuation. These skills are taught throughout the programme and these all come together at the end , which is step 30.The neat Magic Link handwriting will happen at the end of the programme.
30. WHICH ARE THE BEST PENCILS AND PENS YOU RECOMMEND?
It is essential to use pencils and pens which are triangular in shape as these promote a good grip. I particularly like the grey Faber -Castell pencils as children can be encouraged to count the 4 black dots under the first finger and thumb and not hold it too low to hide the words. My favourite pens are the Pentel Gel K437CR Black or Pentel Gel K437CR Blue.
All recommended stationary can be seen on the website page: www.magiclinkhandwriting.com/Pencils/Pens/Paper
31. WHAT TYPE OF WRITING STYLE DOES THIS PROGRAMME USE?
This handwriting programme uses the ‘Magic Link’ letter front, which introduces a completely fresh handwriting font. It was created by Lee Dein, especially for this programme. There are minimal curls and loops with absolutely no introductory (or lead-in) strokes, which often confuse the child and slow down the speed. Children are able to grasp this formation much more easily than other handwriting programmes, which have unnecessary flicks, curves and swirls.
32. IF SOME CHILDREN AT SCHOOL HAVE BEAUTIFULLY FORMED HANDWRITING – DO THEY STILL FOLLOW THE MAGIC LINK COURSE?
Yes, they should. They will probably find the course easy to do but but it is useful for all pupils to follow this highly structured programme to help maintain good handwriting for life.