WHO IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME FOR?
The Magic Link Handwriting Programme is designed for 6-year-olds, or children in school year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and upwards (ie for primary and secondary school). It can also be used with adults. It is 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.
HOW LONG DOES THE PROGRAMME TAKE TO COMPLETE?
The full 30 step programme can take around 4 – 6 weeks to complete. Each level (which is 10 steps) takes around 2-4 weeks. This may take longer if used with a large group or in a classroom. It is advisable to follow 2 steps twice or three times a week. Allow a day or two in between to practise the words and ‘silly sentences’. Always copy these out onto wide-ruled lined paper A4 size.
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 speed. Children are able to grasp this formation much more easily than other handwriting programmes, which have unnecessary flicks, curves and swirls.
WHAT AGE IS THE MAGIC LINK PROGRAMME FOR?
This programme is recommended age 6 years old and upwards. It can be used for primary school children, secondary school children as well as adults.
IS THIS PROGRAMME APPROPRIATE FOR HOME-SCHOOLING?
Absolutely! This programme is perfect match for the home-schooled child. It does not require any training classes. Simply write in the workbooks and follow the instructions on the video.
DOES THIS PROGRAMME WORK FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
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!
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 diagnosed with high- functioning autism. They respond particularly well to the logic of this programme and the repetition. These children often become more and more self-motivated as their handwriting continues to improve throughout each step of the programme.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS HYPERMOBILE?
Almost all hypermobile children should be able to write neatly and legibly if they follow the Magic Link handwriting programme correctly. It is important that they use a triangular shaped pencil or pen to help them develop the correct pencil grip. Hypermobile children need to be shown exactly how to hold a pencil and the grip needs to be reinforced as much as required until this becomes natural and comfortable.
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 OK! Teach at their pace, and make it enjoyable! Remember to practise what they have learnt for homework.
HOW IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME STRUCTURED?
This programme has been compiled to work through each vowel and vowel combination. Before writing can begin, the technique of how to hold a pencil or pencil is explained. (See 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.
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. Writing out the ‘silly sentences’ should be encouraged for homework so that each step can be reinforced and consolidated.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD PUPILS FOLLOW THE VIDEO LESSONS?
It is possible to follow the programme 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.
MY CHILD IS STRUGGLING. CAN THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME HELP?
Some children do not enjoy writing because of early failures, 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 for children and adults to write and repeat at the end of each step.
HOW WILL I KNOW THAT MY CHILD IS MAKING PROGRESS?
Throughout each step, the pupil will be able 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. 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.
HOW FAR DOES THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME GO?
The programme is a sequential series of 30 steps that starts 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.
ARE THERE WORKSHEETS TO GO WITH THE PROGRAMME?
Yes, the Magic Link handwriting programme comes with worksheets. The worksheets match the video programme and the pupil simply watches the video and copies the handwriting method. Research shows that the act of writing is an excellent way to reinforce reading and phonic skills. The pupil is able to print out the worksheets to practise the words as many times as required. Or there is blank, lined paper provided in this programme.
WHEN IS THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING TRANSFERRED TO SCHOOLWORK TO OTHER WRITING TASKS IN EVERYDAY LIFE?
Upon completion of the programme, in step 30, literacy skills for children and adults are introduced. The pupil is shown how to use this technique in all aspects of writing. The mechanics of writing should have become automatic allowing the pupil to focus on content, rather than on the physical act of writing.
WHAT DO I DO 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!
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.
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.
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 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.
DO I NEED TO ADAPT MY CHILD’S HOMEWORK?
The main factors to consider is that (i) the pupil continues to write on 8mm wide lined paper. The use of plain paper or other paper can be confusing. (ii)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.
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.
IS THERE HOMEWORK TO GO WITH THE PROGRAMME?
After each lesson, it is important to copy out the silly sentences at the end of each step 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.
WHY DOESN’T THE MAGIC LINK HANDWRITING PROGRAMME TEACH THE SHORT WORDS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER?
The programme has been designed to teach people to write neatly as quickly as possible. To do this the initial focus is on ‘getting ready to write’. Then there are exercises explaining letter heights. This is the precursor to writing which people need to practise before they are able to write 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 that are important to learning to write. Very early on in the programme the student will learn the essential skills to good handwriting, as well as undoing the bad habits, which may have been learnt along the way.
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.
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 may need a lot of reminding to sit up straight and to hold their pencil correctly as this is often easy to forget.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS NOT USING MAGIC LINK IN HIS SCHOOL WORK?
Do not worry if this is not happening. The use of Magic Link handwriting is transferred to school work in step 30 and as long as the ‘Silly Sentences’ are practised every day the transfer of Magic Link handwriting will happen at the end of the programme. There is a lot to learn throughout the 30 steps and it is best to start the programme as soon as possible so that good skills and correct letter formations can be learnt from the start.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PENCILS AND PENS YOU RECOMMEND?
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, which encourages good pencil grip. My favourite pens are the Pentel Gel K437CR Black or Pentel Gel K437CR Blue. These and others can be seen on the website page: Pencils/Pens/Paper.