The traditional slate chalkboard makes me think immediately of Little House on the Prairie and the original method of teaching letter and number and number formation. In our age of technology; schools have invested in white boards and tablets in the classroom. White boards are easier to clean and both the white board and tablet provide the child with an alternative way of learning letter formation. It is not uncommon to think of the whiteboard and tablet as a more progressive alternative to the traditional chalkboard. If there is an opportunity for all three in the classroom or homeschool then that is great.
However if I was given a choice of just one as the most beneficial to learning letter and number formation then I would choose the chalkboard. I would choose it even for free drawing for that matter. Why? Because to learn letter formation a child needs to remember the direction, shape, starting point and end point of each letter. This requires multiple senses working together i.e., visual, tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive.
The smooth slick surface of the tablet and whiteboard does not give the child the same amount of feedback that the resistance of chalk has on chalkboard. The whiteboard and tablet certainly gives the wow factor with visual input and also gives the child an opportunity to ‘move’ through the letter formation.
Experiment: If you were asked to put on a pair of woolly gloves and an eye patch and then asked to draw a flower: first with a chalk on the chalkboard, then with a marker on a whiteboard and finally with your finger on a tablet screen … which one of the three would give you more feedback to your other senses for you to feel more confident with your end product?
Conclusion: The feedback off the chalk dragging against a resistive chalkboard gives the child added proprioceptive input to help him imprint that letter in his motor memory along with providing the visual input and visual memory.
Action: Get those chalkboards out and get practicing! Here are the ones I use for my handwriting groups and with Little M that I found on Amazon.
Also find the FIVE steps to letter formation practice using a tried and tested technique of chalkboard and sponge in the HandRight APP for a great multisensory way of teaching your child to remember how to form letters.
When using chalk break them into little pieces so that your child is encouraged to form a three finger grasp when holding the chalk. This prepares little fingers for holding a pencil comfortably.