Calligraphy (beautiful writing) is an ancient art, but sadly, one that is increasingly rare in the modern digital world.
The next generation of children will be typing on smart phones and tablets long before learning to write, let alone using cursive writing or a fountain pen. Some schools in the USA have withdrawn cursive writing from their lesson plans and from 2016 schools in Finland they have abolished joined up handwriting altogether in favour of teaching typing skills. Whilst it may to be true that typing will be an increasingly useful skill in the modern world, it’s important that children still learn to write by hand.
Calligraphy can not only be a great hobby, but can provide career opportunities as well. It can provide a way into art industries, open up other creative avenues and unlock other potential talents.
With the bank holiday weekend approaching and the potential requirement for some ‘wet weather’ activities, we thought it would be good to give you a guide into how to encourage your children to try their hand at calligraphy.
Create a Workspace
Children can be easily distracted, a fact I’m sure I don’t need to point out to most parents! To keep their interest, it’s important to create an uncluttered work space with all your planned activities readily available at hand. Make sure all of the tools required are ready to go and neatly laid out. It might be worth having a variety of different pens/crayons available and not just calligraphy pens and ink, especially for younger children. Have some different types of paper available, from ‘rough’ note paper to nicer writing paper and some lined paper for practicing lettering. You could have some examples, or the alphabet, already written out for your children to copy.
Go through some examples
If you are a calligrapher yourself, show your child how you can write out their name, or favourite pet’s names. This is something close to them that they can connect with. You can look through some calligraphy books together, or to engage with their modern minds, watch some examples of calligraphy on YouTube using a tablet.
Create excitement with history
Calligraphy has a wonderful history, and you can take this opportunity to take your kids into the worlds of ancient China and Japan, the Egyptians and Medieval Britain. You could print out the Chinese lettering, or hieroglyphs which translate into your child’s name, and get them to replicate that.
One of the biggest struggles with children and calligraphy is how they hold the pen. In general, kids will hold a pen rather awkwardly and will lack the dexterity or deft touch required for advanced calligraphy. However, it’s important to remember that we’re not creating masterpieces here, we’re having fun whilst encouraging our children to learn some history, help their creative learning and hopefully set them on the path to a new hobby. If they want to practice lettering, great! If they would rather draw pictures of their friends or pets then that’s fine too. Let them be creative in their own way and you’ll be surprised at what they can achieve.
Frame their achievements and encourage future writing
When you’re finished for the day, ask your children which of their drawings or writings is their favourite. Make sure this piece gets pride of place on the fridge, mantelpiece or wherever it is you may keep your kid’s artwork. They will hopefully feel a sense of achievement and they’ll be itching to get the pens back out again! After your first session, tell them that you’ve got a very special gift for them; their very own notebook. Tell them that this notebook is for them to practice writing, doodling and drawing, and that you’ll go through what they’ve practice next week, creating ‘nice’ versions of it on good paper.
The basic supplies you may find useful
Paper: While any writing paper will do and photocopy paper is adequate, we all like a nice pad to work on and children do like one they can mark as ‘MINE’ and their sibling doesn’t draw in! We recommend the Frisk A4 Layout Pad There are many other options available on that page.
Calligraphy Pen? See our blog for Starting Calligraphy for an idea about starting calligraphy and working with just two pencils and a rubber band. You can use bits of card, lollypop sticks, felt, foam, balsa wood… cut crayons into a square ended pens. Kuretake coloured calligraphy pens, singles and sets of 4 or 8, are brilliant for experimenting with coloured letters and last extremely well.
Ink If you buy ink it’s best to look for the ‘washable’ versions as it makes bath time and laundry so much easier. Poster paints from the pound shop are great value – anything, so long as it makes a mark on the paper.
Whilst you’re online take a look around the rest of the Blot’s website as we have a fantastic range of Calligraphy pens, pads, paper and other craft materials.
Let us know how you got on by commenting at our Facebook page!