French school children spend up to an hour each day practising their handwriting. Joe, our seven-year-old, regularly has to copy texts from his reading book. Their exercise books have five faint lines between two bold lines and gradually they learn how many lines you take up the ‘l’ and the ‘t’ and how many lines up and down you take the ‘f’ and the ‘y’.
The capital letters also have to be learnt as they bear absolutely NO resemblance to the lowercase letters. Each child has a plastified sheet containing models of all the upper and lower case letters on their desk for easy reference.
When they take tests at school in history or geography, they are awarded two marks, one for the correctness of the answer and the other is a combined spelling/handwriting mark.
With such importance being placed on handwriting, the introduction of an experiment in one of Brittany’s schools to do away with exercise books and give each child a computer instead has not gone down terribly well!