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What is the primary goal of penmanship?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My son is 5. I am registering him early as a Homeschooler so he can take gym at the Elementary school.

The state of Vermont requires that I have penmanship goals in his plan.

He is reading at a second grade level.

My son hates writing. He doesn't draw, color, paint he avoids playing with Play-Doh and if he does it's only for about five minutes. He also avoids cutting with scissors. He avoids most fine motor tasks.
No one in his life including his pediatrician feels that there is any sort of delay especially considering his age and gender.

I strongly feel that the avoidances is based in perfectionism Not a developmental disability.

When given scrabble letters or the movable alphabet he will spell. He enjoys typing on the computer. He will do some fine motor based skills on the iPad but again it is limited.

Progress is being made but again it is very slow. I think in another year we won't have the limitations we have now and in five years I don't think they'll be any limitation at all other than perhaps poor penmanship which I think we all know a lot of boys have.

It is important to keep in mind that while language and even art is hardwired into the brain writing and reading is not. Because of brain development and personality (perfectionist) I don't think that there's an issue there I also don't think that I should be pushing him to write. I have a bigger problem with imposing on him now and creating self-esteem issues... Especially since he is only five and literacy is progressing.

However all of the things listed above the state of Vermont will not accept as his writing samples.

I was told that it is unusual for him to type at this age and not write. Why? Considering the world we live in, is it really so unusual?

Also what exactly is the goal here? If the goal is Literacy than typing on the computer and printing those pages out should suffice.

If the goal is tracking fine motor skills, Why does it have to be writing?

Do other people have similar experiences?

I intend to put into his curriculum plan simply that every teachable moment that becomes available will be taken and all that work will be submitted however The primary goal is to generate intrinsic interest in writing.

post #2 of 7

I totally agree with you about the lack of importance of penmanship per se in your ds's current educational program. In school I believe the unstated primary goal of penmanship in young children is to facilitate evaluation of the learning large groups of children. Teachers need worksheets to mark to figure out whether Robbie really understands the vocabulary words, or is just parroting whatever Angela and Devin say. So yeah, penmanship in a 5-year-old homeschooler? Pshaw!


Do you know for a fact that they will require samples of his handwriting? As I read the required course of study for Vermont Home Study, it seems to say that "Language and Communication Skills" may include such areas of study as penmanship. Assuming they actually do require this, don't you have a number of evaluation / reporting options available? Do you actually need to submit samples of written work no matter what? Where I live the idea behind any documentation submitted is that it provides evidence of progress towards your stated goals. If your goals don't include, say, "legible formation of upper and lower case letters", there would be no need to provide such a sample. If the goal is "using a variety of manipulatives and writing implements, to encourage the development of fine motor skills applicable to penmanship" then a photo of your child building a Lego construction would be appropriate documentation. 



I'm not in Vermont, but in my experience educational bureaucrats typically just want something that allows them to tick off that item in their list. It doesn't have to have any real substance behind it. Perhaps you could contact homeschoolers in your area and ask them about the particulars.  



post #3 of 7
We are in vermont too, (we are homeschoolers, and my son is 6)...and they will accept in the end of the year 'portfolio' dictation s by him instead of writing. I spoke with one of the administrators just a few weeks ago, asking questions on how to send in his 'work' since he doesn't write yet, and was told to have him dictate to me, or send in pictures of him participating in various subjects. I would just give them a call!
post #4 of 7

I'm in Vermont, too. You aren't required to have anything about penmanship in your course of study.  All that's required is that you have goals in the broad area of language arts.  They describe that as "reading and writing," but they don't specifically say that your goals have to include both writing and reading.  I don't see why your writing goals couldn't involve typing instead of printing by hand, and I suspect you could actually leave out writing entirely if you wanted to.  If you do want to have some goals related to writing, for a 5 year old, they ought to be satisfied with pre-writing skills like narrating a story or drawing a sequence of pictures to tell a story.  What you said about "generating intrinsic interest in writing" sounds like a great thing to put in your course of study.  That alone would probably be enough.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

I called and spoke to her for about half an hour. That was what prompted the question.

She said many things, including 4-6 writing samples and spent most of time trying to get me to wait a year.
She was nice.

Thank you, daffodil.
post #6 of 7
I think penmanship is still important, for fine motor skills, and so we don't become dependent on computers. I have computers at work, but still have some writing to do, and when the computers go down as they often do, I have to hand write everything, and it has to be legible. My kids are junior high and high school and we require some cursive writing and lots of print writing. They do type some reports on the computer, but mostly, we hand write stuff.
post #7 of 7

Did the person in the home study office specifically say your course of study had to include penmanship, or did you just get the impression that it had to from her talk about writing samples?  I expect it's typical for them to get courses of study that include penmanship goals and portfolios that have handwriting samples.  But I would have a hard time believing they wouldn't accept writing goals that involved typing on the computer, spelling words with letter tiles, developing fine motor skills, and encouraging interest in writing.  There certainly isn't anything in state statute requiring that penmanship be taught.  They're probably also used to seeing math worksheets in the portfolio as evidence of progress in math.  If your son doesn't write well enough to do written math work, you'll have to give some thought to how you can show progress.  But I'm sure you can think of lots of ways. 


Do you know about the Yahoo email lists for Vermont homeschoolers?  There are two statewide ones that I know about:





The first one gets more use, but neither is super busy.  There are also some more local Yahoo groups and I think there's probably a Christian one.  My own courses of study and portfolios have included handwriting goals and handwriting progress, so I can't say for sure from personal experience that the home study office wouldn't require it.  But you could post to one or both of the Yahoo lists to ask about other people's experiences with kindergarteners who weren't writing yet.  I expect you'd find some.

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