When I am asked to observe in classrooms, I sometimes see children writing on lines that are spaced an inch or more apart. Since writing large letters does not develop the fine motor skills that are necessary for efficient writing, and since doing that may lead to additional problems (see below), the use of appropriate sized lines is one of the first things we discuss.
Although it may seem easier to have young students write large letters, this is an illusion. When the lines are too far apart, children are drawing--not writing--and it is much more difficult to control the pencil.
Also, large writing is not really manageable for writing whole words, which Riggs students must start writing, repeatedly, in Lesson 20. (Try writing 30 words on the traditionally large paper that many teachers use, and you will see that it is much more difficult to write while writing large.)
Furthermore, when students begin writing daily sentences (a few weeks after words), the task will be much more tiring if the letters and words must be as large as many K-1 teachers seem to feel is necessary.
A final issue is that of time. Since writing large letters means that one is able to produce fewer letters in a given amount of time, those students who write smaller letters will naturally be able to write far more of them than will those who are forced to write on lines which are spaced further apart. Since the amount of practice is directly related to skill mastery, this time factor is critically important.
My experience echoes that of the master teachers from whom I learned this method: children do better with smaller writing. Although I sometimes have my youngest students use larger spacing while I’m teaching them the seven basic letter strokes, I quickly drop them down to Riggs practice paper when we begin working on letters. Although I do have my students using wider spacing and large motor skills while working at the chalkboard, we always use the recommended line size when working on paper. I like to use Riggs paper because:
- The line size is perfect for developing fine motor skills
- The middle dotted line is an extremely useful tool
- The lines are of the same size as are the lines in the Riggs notebooks
- The paper quality is outstanding
For teaching basic penmanship skills, for practicing phonograms, and for writing words and sentences, the Riggs Institute recommends lined paper that has been correctly sized to produce optimum results (1/2” spacing for K-1 students; 3/8” spacing for older students).