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post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My son is 6 1/2 and is doing pretty good with printing, but it is a little "sloppy". I haven't used any sort of curriculum to teach him how to print. I have heard great things about Handwriting Without Tears, but I know it would bore him to death. He knows how to properly form his letters and when he prints he does it the "right" way, but it's just messy.

I do want him to have legible writing and don't want him to get into the habit of being messy, but I'm not sure how to go about helping him. He does Writing With Ease - level 1 and I ask him to do his copywork as neat as he can. It is *okay*. I remember as a child in elementary school changing my printing and writing regularly until I found one that I liked. I would make my letters big and loopy, slanted right or left, make my letters tall and thin...every once-in-a-while I changed my style until I was in highschool.


I'm just wondering if the rest of you insist on neat printing or if you let your child decide how messy or neat to print as long as they are forming their letters correctly? Don't get me wrong - his printing is usually legible, and I'm sure that it will improve as he gets more control. I just don't know if I should be more strict in enforcing neat printing or if I should just let him figure it out with regular copywork practice.

post #2 of 8

with my daughter (9) i didn't use a curriculum and i didn't enforce neatness at all. with my son, i used handwriting without tears for kindergarten only.  now his reading program includes copywork, penmanship etc.  he's in grade 1 and will be 7 at the end of march.  i do ask that he write correctly & neatly.  my daughter formed terrible habits & honestly, i regret not helping her in this area.  she did improve when she learned cursive. her cursive is beautiful actually, but her manuscript is still just so-so.  i wouldn't want to create tears or a power struggle over a child's neatness or anything, but with my own son, i just gently correct him and ask him to re-write a letter if it's really sloppy.  it's not an issue i draw a lot of attention too...we just correct it and move forward.  hth.

post #3 of 8
Originally Posted by bass chick View Post

Don't get me wrong - his printing is usually legible, and I'm sure that it will improve as he gets more control. I just don't know if I should be more strict in enforcing neat printing or if I should just let him figure it out with regular copywork practice.

if it's legible & he's forming the letters correctly, i probably wouldn't worry about it honestly. 


i correct stuff that's sloppy in the sense that he's mixing uppercase and lowercase, reversing a letter or number, or writing gigantic when i know he can do better. i also correct him if spaces don't exisit between words.  in your case, it sounds totally age appropriate though.   so...sorry.  i should have read your post better.

post #4 of 8

My son is almost 5 and is trying to form letters on his own. If I were to try a curriculum he would refuse it. (Plus I think he is neurologically too young to do too much printwork.)


What I did is get the worksheet maker from www.startwrite.com. When he feels like it, we make worksheets he can practice with. I tell him doing this will help him learn how to make pretty letters just like one of his friends (turns out her mom chose the same font I did.) I'm doing this proactively in a way I hope he finds meaningful to try and get him used to making his letters a certain way.

post #5 of 8

If it is legible and the letters are formed correctly, I would not worry about it.  The other thing I would consider is how the child feels about writing.  If it's legible and he does not mind doing it, and is able to complete the work you want him to do without handwriting getting in the way, I would not worry about it.


Our 7.5 yo HATES to write.  HATES it.  He is very tense and stiff.  He wears himself out with the tension.  He must put so much effort into remembering what a letter should look like, and then making it, that at this point he is not able to combine penmanship with any other skills, like spelling, comprehension or just thinking of something to say and writing it.  He is not able to complete written work at his grade level that requires sentences. 


He just completed a year of vision therapy.  He had some visual processing issues that interfered with his learning to write.   The worst areas were form constancy and visual closure.  Those have been mostly resolved now but they were big problems a year ago.  He is learning to keyboard, because I do not want his writing issues to slow him down in developing written expression.  He did Dance Mat Typing and now he is doing Click'n Spell with proper keyboarding.  Keyboarding has made a huge improvement in his spelling.


I am also starting over back at the beginning for him with handwriting.  I'm using a program that OTs use for dysgraphic students.  It's called First Strokes.  I am starting him at the preschool level and combining it with their "multisensory" program.     After he has done those, they have a more advanced printing called Snail Tails that I will take him through.   Right now he is just working on relaxing enough to make  smooth circles.  I am having him warm up with paint brushes and then use dry erase markers, making big circles starting at 2 o clock and going around backward.  Even this basic skill is hard for him.  I realize that handwriting may always be difficult for him, so I want him to develop his keyboarding skills.  But I want him to be comfortable enough with handwriting that he can do it when he really needs to. 

post #6 of 8

Handwriting is one of the things I choose not to stress about. My kids love to draw and do crafts, so I figure they are developing their fine motor skills and such as we progress in other learning areas and handwriting will catch up. I try to make sure they know how to properly form the letters (stroke starts at the top, etc.) but I don't do lots of sheets. My dd is 8 and now doing very passable cursive. My ds is 6 and resists handwriting lessons ("I hate the alphabet"-- he says, he means he hates writing the letters, what could be more pointless from his perspective?") I remember getting 'piggy' stamps on my work at the catholic school i attended for bad penmanship. I later learned calligraphy and did lots of drawing and my penmanship was fantastic by middle school. In my mind, it is a skill meant to be developed in parallel with the real mental/learning development of our subjects. I don't want skills learning to muck up the fun we are having.

post #7 of 8

I differ a little here because I chose to emphasize handwriting early on, and in hindsight I'm really happy with our choice.  Now, by 'emphasize' I mean that I ask my children to spend ~5 minutes a day doing their one page of their Handwriting Without Tears workbook.  They actually both enjoy doing it, but even if they didn't, it's only ONE PAGE.  Many times doing that one page takes even less than 5 minutes, especially in the first book. 


I feel that by encouraging them in this very small way to form their letters properly I have given them a skill that will last a lifetime.  Dd in particular is very proud of her neat penmanship, and loved learning cursive.  

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you ALL for your replies.

I think with my youngest I will try a different approach (he's 4 and likes to print a little bit) but for now I will continue doing what I am doing with my oldest. I can read his printing and his goal is not to write super neatly, but to write faster.


He is also big into "fancy" letters and tries to fancy up his printing sometimes until it is totally unlegible! lol. I showed him what cursive looked like yesterday and he gasped and said "Wow!!! I want to learn that!" So it looks like he is ready for cursive. I'm sure that will help with his printing. :)

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