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I see many families have difficulty with handwriting and we are astounded by this. Can it be that we have different expectations for handwriting? We use it as a warmup and let me explain.
We use handwriting as a warmup exercise as we start the day In our homeschool. It takes 15-20 minutes of independent time to do copy work and tracing. As our son gets older, he copies sentences and practices other motor skills and drawing. This is his time to gracefully start the day at his pace.
I can’t remember him having any qualms about handwriting or throwing any tantrums for this part of the day. He has followed the handwriting practice for 2 levels and we are already starting cursive lessons. Aaron, now almost 7 and a half is doing well in our opinion. Is this because we haven’t forced him to do this? Could it be that he finds this a relaxing part of his day without any pressure or one on one “interference” in his day?
So we find this handwriting warmup the best part of our day! We don’t argue or feel any frustration, we like the quiet time and we also have time to prepare our lessons or something else like making a cup of coffee.
Handwriting as a Gateway for Independent Learning
Any homeschooling parent will hear about a multitude of learning strategies from the 4 strategies, the 5 strategies and I even saw the 7 learning strategies? I didn’t even know I was following a strategy except that we are aiming to teach our son how to be an independent learner. Homeschool handwriting I believe is the gateway to his independent learning. We are teaching him strategies indirectly for him to learn by himself.
As he grows and requires more guided handwriting lessons, we will add them. But now we follow The Good and The Beautiful lessons from Level K, Level 1, and now Level 3. I find it to be a great way to start the day without hassles. Our hands-off approach seems to work well. I found a great book that highlights an important thing for us.
“The strategies approach teaches students how to learn and be independent learners rather than isolated skills or facts”Strategy Instruction for Middle and Secondary Students with Mild Disabilities: Creating Independent Learners
By Gregory J. Conderman, Laura R. Hedin & Mary V. Bresnahan
As we use handwriting as a form of independent learning we are assisting our son “how to learn” through his independent work while he is doing the necessary skills building. I’m not sure if the curriculum was developed especially with this in mind, but it works well implemented as we do it.
Handwriting Difficulties Affect 20% of Children, So Relax
Handwriting difficulties affect up to 20% of school-aged children researchers have found. So don’t be alarmed, you are not alone so relax. No, we don’t mean don’t worry about it, but rather maybe our relaxed approach can be considered. Since we never placed much emphasis on handwriting, our son doesn’t feel the pressure of it. We know it’s important and the basis of much of his future communication skills.
But since he gradually built up his confidence with handwriting, he enjoys it. And he loves to write as a form of play in his own free time. Since he was able to write in kindergarten, he loved using his chalk and drawing boards. He pretended he was teaching us I think! We have spent over 1 year on formal handwriting practice from Level 1 to Level 3 currently. The curriculum says to do 3 lessons per week. However, we do it almost daily, and therefore we make quick progress.
Handwriting is Hands-On & Kinesthetic Learning
One type of learning strategy we hear often is hands-on and kinesthetic. Learn by doing right? Handwriting is learning by doing and the exercises to build motor skills and hand-eye coordination are necessary to form nice letters. But did you also know this key skill is one of the strongest memory systems we can have? Writing things down involves so many of our senses that it helps across a broad range of aptitudes. This is why it’s one more reason to use handwriting as a warm-up session to prime their memory.
“Handwriting involves kinesthetic learning, which uses one of the earliest and strongest memory systems.”(Sheffield) In-depth analysis of handwriting curriculum and instruction in four kindergarten classrooms
Luckily we use the same curriculum for language arts and much of the vocabulary and concepts are also tied into the writing lessons. They are reinforced and help my son build his skills and develop his understanding of words and sentence structure. So this kind of warmup leads very conveniently to the next subject we do, language arts. It’s a natural transition from warmup to a lesson taught by me.
Learning Handwriting Can be Fun With Drawing
In our lessons, the curriculum is also adding other activities besides copy work and tracing. I see my son drawing, coloring, and creating shapes based on the lesson. There is a good balance of these other activities to develop kids’ observational skills. It will also help with the fine motor skills needed for writing. I think it’s much more than just the boring stuff I can remember when I was in school. Sometimes he can do a maze, draw or copy a picture, color something, or learn how to draw a particular shape or object.
My son has fun with it and he uses this personal time to be by himself and free of his teacher, me! But there are some assessments throughout the course where we will need to observe them as they write each letter or word. Once we see them make a mistake, we are to correct it and let them continue. Then when the lesson is complete, we choose 4 letters or words they need to practice for some extra exercises to improve the ones they are weak on. But most of the worksheets are dedicated to improving and practicing fine motor skills for handwriting in a fun way.
Handwriting Curriculums to Consider for Warm Up?
I’ll have to be honest and mention we did not hunt around very carefully and just went with something early on to try. I thought it was the most effective way and we were not pressed for time. I know many families are drawn to the Learning Without Tears handwriting curriculum and I did check it out and thought it seemed too complicated for us. The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting curriculum is straightforward and relies on a workbook only. Nothing online and just focuses on using pencils, crayons, and colored pencils.
We felt staying away from online resources at an early age was a good choice for us. In this day and age, there are more than enough distractions with all kinds of electronic devices that we feel inhibit education. Simple, easy-to-follow worksheets and all in one format my son could follow in an easy to get used to formatting were for us.
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