In this week’s Photo Friday I’m sharing a photo of our son’s handwriting and his lovely picture of a rattlesnake. In case you’re worried about the creatures you might encounter in Australia I thought I should reassure our readers that he couldn’t actually see a snake, and since moving to Sydney 18 months ago we haven’t seen any deadly reptiles (spiders are another matter: Redback spiders in Sydney, this time Mum’s getting serious…).

Handwriting styles in Australian schools

Our son is really enjoying his writing and we’re pleased with his progress. Looking at his handwriting this week I was reminded that children relocating to or within Australia might need to learn a new handwriting style. There isn’t a consistent style used across Australia.

The style our son is learning is NSW Foundation Style Handwriting. At our son’s level (Kindergarten) there are two distinct differences from how I was showing him to write at home: lowercase “t” is a straight line down with a bar across, and lowercase “k” has a loop at the top.

T for travel

K for kangaroo

I’m sure it isn’t a big deal if children write in a slightly different way; the important thing is that they’re writing, right? But we thought it would be useful for other families moving to Australia to know about the handwriting styles taught in schools here.

For consistency you can download the fonts to your computer so that your children complete computer work in the same style. If you have the handwriting font on your PC you can also use it to create learning aids and games (if you’ve got the time!).

Not surprisingly these style anomalies have created a big business in Australia for state specific workbooks, worksheets, teacher aids, downloadable fonts, and interactive computer programs.

I tried to download a simple chart displaying each state’s handwriting alphabet but it’s not easy to find, for free. To give you a feel for the formatting, I’ve listed the handwriting style names below and have included links to resources that display examples. The most common differences between the states are the letters “t” and “k” as mentioned above. I’ve also noticed that the letter “x” can have straight or curly lines, and numbers can be written differently i.e. the number “3” with a curved or flat top.

All handwriting styles have a foundation or beginners stage which progresses to cursive (joined up writing).

If you’re already living in Australia, a good way understand your state’s handwriting style would be to buy a workbook for your kids, readily available in newsagents, and stationery departments of stores such as Kmart or Big-W. You can also purchase workbooks online, Dominie.com.au has a broad range for all the different states and territories (search for “handwriting” and scroll through the results).

When our son started school one of the first homework items we were given was a sheet containing the alphabet, and a description of how children are being taught to form the letters. If you want to check you’re doing the right thing you could ask your child’s teacher for this resource.

A list of handwriting fonts used in Australian schools

  • New South Wales and ACT use NSW Foundation Font. Page 23 in this document gives a graphic overview of the style.
  • Queensland schools use QLD Beginners and QLD Modern Cursive. This document from the website of Chancellor State College in Queensland’s Sunshine coast, gives a good explanation of the font.
  • Schools in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory use Victorian (VIC) Modern Cursive. Follow this link and at the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of downloadable charts for VIC Modern Cursive.
  • In South Australia, SA Regular and Cursive Fonts are used. An excellent document describing how this writing style is taught, can be found here.
  • Tasmania (TAS) Font is used in Tasmania. Here is a teaching resource from the Tasmanian Education Department; at the end of the document you’ll find an alphabet chart containing a description of how children are taught to form each letter.

If you’ve moved to Australia whilst your children are learning to write, how was the transition? Did they encounter any challenges due to style differences? We’d love to hear your experiences.

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