Grace taught herself to write when she was 3.
Let that sink in for a moment. She taught herself how to form the letters.
At that time, I was pregnant, on bed rest, then had a brand new baby and fragile mental health.
No one worked with her. No one corrected her mistakes.
Grace practiced over and over, writing her name and my name and random letters and numbers here and there – and she practiced many of them incorrectly.
For the last year, I’ve worked diligently with Grace to correct her handwriting. She forms letters in the wrong way, from the wrong places, with the wrong strokes, completely backwards and out of alignment.
For a year, I’ve been trying to retrain her muscles, helping her to relearn how to write.
Relearning how to write is a painfully slow, frustrating, explosive process. Maybe it’s not explosive for all people, but it is explosive for us.
I field a lot of pens and markers, generally hurled toward my head.
Over the summer, we jumped into The Logic of English with both feet. The program’s creator recommends teaching cursive handwriting before printing.
Teaching cursive first was a novel idea for me, but it makes sense for a variety of reasons:
- Cursive is less fine motor skill intensive.
- All the lowercase letters begin in one place, on the baseline.
- Spacing within and between words is controlled.
- By lifting the pencil between words, the beginning and ending of words is emphasized.
- It is difficult to reverse letters such as b’s and d’s.
- The muscle memory that is mastered first will last a lifetime.
From The Logic of English’s cursive first explanation.
At this point, Grace’s handwriting is a pretty awful jumble of backwards, uppercase, and lowercase letters, and I was eager to put that all that behind us and move on with cursive.
Because cursive makes sense.
Grace, on the other hand, did not agree.
We started cursive. I taught Grace i and e and t. We moved on to j and p and s.
The teaching went well, except that every single day, Grace complained. Complaining led to throwing markers and pens. Throwing things led to time in her room (because clearly, she needed to calm down and rest for a while).
In other words, this cursive writing business was not happening without a fight.
I fought the fight for a month.
I’m a slow learner.
After fighting this fight every school day for a month, I came to a realization. I’ve learned this lesson before, but clearly, not yet learned it at all.
Just because cursive is generally the best way doesn’t make it unequivocally the best way for Grace.
I was so busy making Grace learn the right way that I forgot the biggest benefit of homeschooling: learning your own way.
The Logic of English is working beautifully for us. Intensive phonics instruction makes so much sense to me and to her, and she has gone from making predictable sight word mistakes to reading fluently.
But this one part, the cursive first recommendation, isn’t a good fit for her.
Grace has already learned to write. Twice. We’re way past first muscle memory, and relearning a third time now doesn’t make sense.
I gave up on cursive (for now), and I let Grace print for spelling and other schoolwork.
Read more about our kindergarten homeschool curriculum here.
© 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.