Un-boring way to practice handwriting? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-14-2010, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've got my 2 oldest sending emails to family in order to practice reading and "writing". But their handwriting is seriously lacking. Problem is, I can't think of a way to make them practice handwriting that doesn't involve sitting down with worksheets and copying letters. And I can tell you from experience that that will happen for one day and then I will get frustration and protestation. Yes, they could write actual letters to family, but that would become boring in about a day, too.

What other ways can I encourage writing, being that I don't EVER write anything by hand myself anymore?

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Old 06-14-2010, 02:35 PM
 
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Given that this is the unschooling board, I'd have to wonder whether the necessity of practicing handwriting is something they've decided upon. My elder kids have struggled with handwriting. But when they decided it was important, they sat down and did practice. My ds copied sentences out of the newspaper or magazines. My dd's were content to work through a workbook or two. My eldest got most of her practice from an old-fashioned hand-bound personal journal which she kept secret and wrote in obsessively. My middle dd had a nice spiral journal into which she copied her favourite poems, quotes and sayings. As her handwriting improved she would tear out the old "messy" version of a favourite poem and recopy it on a new page.

Two family games also encouraged writing in short snippets: Balderdash and Things (in a Box). Both are very fun to play. They might be a little "old" for your kids, but mine have loved them from about the age of 6 onwards. You need to be able to write a phrase or sentence legibly in the space of a couple of minutes to participate without a "helper".

If your children do not yet see the value and satisfaction in refining their handwriting skills, I wouldn't push it. I'd just let them know that if and when they want to work on handwriting, it'll likely take some consistent practice and I'm willing to support them in the process and help them find ways that are enjoyable to them.

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Old 06-14-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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shopping lists- they could plan dinner (reading recipes and what not) search the cabinets for the ingrediants already on hand, make a shopping list of the ingredients you still need to get at the store, go to the store, and then make dinner.- Useful, real world application
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:52 PM
 
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Like the pp I ask dd to write my shopping lists. I also play a game with her where we take a piece of paper and a pencil and a pair of die and roll. Whatever number you get you write that number of words on an ongoing story. She loves it, she never thinks of it as "practicing writing".

I think that mny children come into writing on their own when they are ready. For example, I remember loving to write short notes to family members and hiding them for them to find. Also, have you considered finding a family penpal?

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Old 06-14-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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Funny - when my son was 11 and I was fretting about his lack of interest in writing, the suggestion that came up was to let him write out shopping lists. He would have, to quote one of his favorite Sherlock Holmes expressions in those years, rather have waltzed naked through the fires of hell. But he did enjoy doing some italics for a while - it was more of an artistic experience. But, as Miranda pointed out, the unschooling forum is probably not the best place to find ways of "making them practice handwriting," and the fact that you're not writing is going to be a big handicap. It sounds as if you're looking for ways to incorporate writing into your ongoing daily activities, but you'd pretty much have to be an involved part of it.

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Old 06-14-2010, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
But, as Miranda pointed out, the unschooling forum is probably not the best place to find ways of "making them practice handwriting," and the fact that you're not writing is going to be a big handicap. It sounds as if you're looking for ways to incorporate writing into your ongoing daily activities, but you'd pretty much have to be an involved part of it.
Yes, I don't want to find ways to "make them practice". As I said, I don't want the worksheet approach. I want ways to incorporate it into daily life. But because I do EVERYTHING on the computer (including my shopping list) I didn't have any idea where to begin. I DO think keyboarding is a more valuable skill for them to have than handwriting today, but handwriting is still an essential. I brought it up today because I saw my 8 yr old had written his name in chalk on the front steps and he'd written the J backward, again. It seems like since he was able to write it perfectly well at 3 years old I must have neglected handwriting a bit too much, and need to find a few ways to incorporate it into our lives more frequently... Not push it, but find ways to work it in. I could't figure out a way to "strew" it, though. I can work on shopping lists, and make him write out his own "birthday wish list", etc. Keep ideas coming!

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:00 PM
 
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I can work on shopping lists, and make him write out his own "birthday wish list", etc. Keep ideas coming!
But keep in mind that those things, especially the shopping list, could be at least as dreary as using worksheets.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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One thing I read in a book (maybe an Amanda Soule book?) was about a weekly tradition of writing letters to people. This sounds like fun to me-- a time, once a week, where you make birthday cards, "how are you" letters, maybe letters about an idea (or complaint!) to a company, etc. For me, the best part would be that I know we'd be making OTHER people happy by getting mail, since who doesn't love mail? I am thinking, too, the more often you write, the more likely it is that people will write back. The world is a nicer place when you get something pretty in the mail!

OK, maybe I'm going to finally start this around here, too. I really want to have more family traditions, but am finding basically everything so hard with my very mobile baby who rarely naps. (Yawn!)

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Old 06-14-2010, 09:13 PM
 
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My DD was really into the weekly letter thing for a while. Each week, she'd pick somebody to write to... She usually picked a company that produced a product she liked. The companies would often send back coupons (resulting in the purchase of more of the stuff she liked). I think I read about the idea someplace and mentioned it to her, and she ran with it for a bit.

There are a couple of other things I've done that have resulted in a bit of handwriting practice... Whenever I'm organized enough to do so, I keep a running question list (whenever one of us wants to know the answer to a question but doesn't want to look it up right away, I make a note of it). I also sometimes make lists of the things we want/need to do any given day. DD will sometimes add to a question list or a list of things we want to do (usually to write that we should buy presents for her ).

We have a number of place mats with information about various stuff on them... I just bought one that includes some space for cursive practice. I don't know if she'll be interested or not, but it will be at her dinner place tomorrow just in case. I don't know if that's something that would appeal to your kids or not (I think my DD might like it).
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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My kids have enjoyed making signs to hang around the house, cards for friends and family, writing up instructions for scavenger hunts for each other, and leaving notes for each other. They also like to play "restaurant" sometimes, and always make up a complete menu for their restaurant.

We also have an easel in the kitchen with a blackboard, and the kids will write on it from time to time.

If you want to model more writing, you could take up leaving notes for your kids-- mine LOVE it when I do that!

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Old 06-15-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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The extent of our handwriting practice is ds printing his name on birthday cards. Amusingly, I recently saw an old picture of my brother at about the same age (8) and he was wearing a name tag that he had made with one of the letters backward. He turned out fine .

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Old 06-15-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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I DO think keyboarding is a more valuable skill for them to have than handwriting today, but handwriting is still an essential.
According to my interpretation of unschooling: if it is an essential, they will learn it. Because if it is essential there will soon be a context in their life in which they will need it and then they will be motivated to do it on their own. I don't actually think it's all that essential in this day and age, but at the same time I believe it is a very useful tool and I'm hard-pressed to imagine any child going through life and not finding it handy at some point in their life.

I would ask if your children are concerned about their writing or if they are complaining or are frustrated that they don't feel they write well? If so then I think you've got some great ideas here and probably your kids will find one or more of them helpful.

Quote:
I brought it up today because I saw my 8 yr old had written his name in chalk on the front steps and he'd written the J backward, again. It seems like since he was able to write it perfectly well at 3 years old I must have neglected handwriting a bit too much...
I think you are wrong in blaming yourself here. My almost-8 year old daughter is a prolific writer. She has long written letters and numbers backwards, not always the same ones, and not consistently. Our Learning Consultant (a certified teacher specially trained in an unschooling approach to learning; she is part of our provincial homelearning program) agreed with me that there is no need to correct it and it has nothing to do with not "knowing" what the correct way to form the letter is. In fact, she will often later correct it herself. The frequency of backwards characters has decreased over the years, but at any given time she may write certain numbers or letters backwards that were previously written correctly. Now I'm not qualified to discuss actual dyslexia so that may be a different scenario. But I think backwards writing is a normal part of how some children learn.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is "don't worry about it!"

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Old 06-15-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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I have been won over to how drawing practice is also handwriting practice. Practicing the skill of observing a line, curve, shape and reproducing it carefully and correctly is honing many of the same skills.

Have you checked out Draw Write Now? http://www.drawyourworld.com/

I had it on my shelf for quite a while, mostly because I have a niece who wanted to learn to draw animals, but I looked more closely at the concept and I love it.

Also, Mona Brooks style copying warm-ups like these: http://donnayoung.org/art/draw1-younger.htm, can be a fun, un-monotonous supplement.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:55 AM
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From your siggy it looks like your oldest boys are 9 and 7? I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I might make some changes. Like, start handwritting more myself! I think the grocery list is a good idea. And maybe encourage writting a weekly letter to family (and do it yourself, whether they do or not).
I can't think of any games right now, but I'm sure you can come up with some fun games to play that include handwritting. The pp about roll the dice, and write that amount of words... what a great idea.
I am reminded of this game where kids keep notebooks and look for stamps hidden in various places....? I didn't get enough info, and don't remember what it's called. But I think it's widespread. Maybe someone who knows will chime in. But instead of stamps you could use clues or bits of information that they need to write down.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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My DD was really into the weekly letter thing for a while. Each week, she'd pick somebody to write to... She usually picked a company that produced a product she liked. The companies would often send back coupons (resulting in the purchase of more of the stuff she liked). I think I read about the idea someplace and mentioned it to her, and she ran with it for a bit.
I was going to suggest something like this. Or, doing some contests. There are lots of sweepstakes and contests that involve writing-anything from simply name, address and phone number, to whole essays. Or scrapbooking. A big portion of scrapping is journaling, writing the story behind the picture. And part of that is often making the journaling look really pretty.

Or what about incorporating some time managment skills into it by having them write out their own "to do" lists and daily or weekly schedules. Or chore lists and creating their own chore charts.

It's summer time, you could put together some lemonade stand type of things, garage sales, etc and have them create the signs.
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Old 06-19-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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Would they be interested in drawing comics? Or making illustrated books?
You can print comic strip templates from several websites online, or fold several sheets of paper in half and staple or punch holes along the fold to make them into booklets. We got a great kids book on cartooning that really developed ds' ability to create a scene with appropriate dialogue. He's 6.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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My kids sometimes like puzzle books and MadLibs. We got them as something fun to do on airplanes, but they do also make writing easier because they are mostly in small chunks. I wouldn't say, "here is a way to practice your handwriting..." Instead, I would offer them as something fun, do a couple yourself, and then leave them around.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:30 AM
 
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I apologize if any of these have already been mentioned. I'm pressed for time this evening and I'm mostly scanning comments and missing some stuff.

1. Penpals? When I was a kid, I had a penpal that I got through some penpal service for kids that matches children up safely so that they can write back and forth without having to worry about the other person being some kind of weirdo.

2. Keeping a poetry journal. In school, my friend and I kept poetry journals. Whenever we saw a poem or quote that we really loved, we wrote it down in our books. I still have mine today many years later.

3. Dream journal. I did this for many many years but haven't had much time after having a baby. Each morning when I woke up, I would say my dream out loud so that I would remember it. Then I would write it down in my dream journal. I have just books and books full of things I have dreamed.

4. Wish book. I like the idea of keeping a wish book. It helps curb the "gimme gimmes" when you are shopping. When my stepdaughter wanted something she saw in a store, instead of saying "no," I'd say "wow, that is really neat! I wish we had enough money to buy it, but we don't. Why don't you add it to your wish book?" It was a notebook in which she could write down the things she wanted. She would draw a picture and write something to describe what it was. Next to it, she would write "must have," "really want," or "kind of want." It was a way for her to have an outlet for the things she wanted but couldn't have and it was helpful to me because when it was gift-giving time, I could just consult "the book" rather than asking her what she wanted and result in her knowing what I was going to get for her.

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Old 07-19-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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My DD is 6 and resistant to all manner of schooly work. But she loves to write and does so everyday.

I have made sure that she lives in a print rich environment and has supplies available. So we have paper, crayons, pencils always accessible. Markers and other messy supplies are put away but available. We have a chalkboard set up with a bowl of chalk set up.

DD loves to play waitress when I am cooking and takes everyones order. She likes to make her own grocery list when I am making one. She writes on her drawings (I modeled this by writing a sentence or two on her pictures for her, now she does it herself.) She likes to write letters, my Mom is her pen-pal. I think you are getting the idea.

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Old 07-20-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Handwriting is still useful in some contexts (for instance, my husband is applying for a new job and it must be done on paper but we don't have a typewriter, so his handwriting skill suddenly becomes relevant) but I will be surprised if it is anything but an art form by the time our kids are grown. Considering that future, I see it not as a necessary tool but just one of those things that some people might choose to be interested in pursuing; like I choose to play piano. In that future someone who doesn't isn't disabled; it's purely a personal preference.

Its future relevance is arguable though, and I respect your concern. So. Like with reading, they will want to do it when it becomes useful or interesting to them, but of course a reading-rich environment is both a resource and makes the transition easy because it's just part of life. There have been lots of good suggestions already... I have a few to add. First, do it yourself. In our family, I can hardly do anything by myself (that I want to do) without the kids wanting to do it too -- so much so that it gets annoying sometimes. Get some calligraphy pens and ink, and explore it as an art form. Make art, and make writing part of your art. Start writing in a journal by hand. Etc. Drawing also in itself increases fine motor coordination and confidence with the pen.

We have friends who keep a lined notebook in their bathroom -- in the morning and at night while they're getting ready for bed or to go off for the day, family members write little notes to each other. Sometimes reminders, or pertinent information, but sometimes just things like "It made me smile to hear you singing today" or "I love you." It's both a nice and a useful thing.

Another idea is a chalkboard -- we painted a wall in our kitchen with chalkboard paint (and actually any dark paint will do) and that's where I write my grocery list and things I need to remember. The kids have their own ideas about what they want to eat and what I need to remember so they often write there too.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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I've got my 2 oldest sending emails to family in order to practice reading and "writing". But their handwriting is seriously lacking. Problem is, I can't think of a way to make them practice handwriting that doesn't involve sitting down with worksheets and copying letters. And I can tell you from experience that that will happen for one day and then I will get frustration and protestation. Yes, they could write actual letters to family, but that would become boring in about a day, too.

What other ways can I encourage writing, being that I don't EVER write anything by hand myself anymore?

quick question, are you children practising cursive writing or printing?
either way you can do "sugar or sand printing" take a saucer or a flat plate fill it with sugar and have them make letters words or what ever in the sugar/sand. they can use their finger or a pencil.
air printing and writing is also the same idea.
allowing them to print /write with shaving cream on the mirror of the bathroom
though as you can imagine this is stinky and messy.
one of my children would use the can another used his finger.
writing secret messages on the mirror and taking a shower was also another fun one.
my daughter thought that lipstick printing was a lot of fun, i on the otehr hand was not a fan.
if they are printing, you can purchase or make wiki sticks which is essentially yarn dipped in wax to make them bendable but hold a position, then they can position the pieces to form letters.
you can do the same thing with sticks from a walk etc.
in these cases you can emphasize proper letter formation versus hand control.
my middle son liked to write out team rosters for hockey and soccer in cursive if he had to do it.
to assist in reading cursive writing i would have him take the rosters with the printed names and find them in cursive.he could just point them out if he wasnt' interested in a pen/paper task.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:21 AM
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personally, i practiced my handwriting (and still do this for fun) by using art. i know that i am a bit nuts, i have learned this about myself, but i love to play with my own handwriting. later, i enjoyed doing calligraphy.

what i learned about calligraphy is that there are so many variations on handwriting. it's basically art, at that point. i used to practice different fonts as a kid, and then crack them out at school.

i would then get in trouble for showing off, writing too messy (i did like some fun fonts! LOL), or not being efficient and wasting time in class. seeing as i felt that ALL of class was a waste of time, i might as well have used calligraphy to further waste it. LOL

but, that was my interest, you know?
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually, a couple of weeks ago I found some small magnetic white boards in the dollar section at Target. So I put them on the fridge and started writing a to do list for each child in the morning (they get up an hour or so before the baby and I). My son started erasing it when he was done and writing new things on his sister's board, etc. (very funny, btw). Then when Walmart first put out their school supplies we went and spent 50 bucks and bought pencils, paper, markers, crayons, etc. Each child has their own notebook for this or that. My daughter and 3 yr old son just draw, but my oldest is keeping lists, making pictures with speech bubbles, etc. They work on it of their own accord every day.

I've also been working with him on writing the grocery list, the kids' wish lists, etc. They've also been wanting to walk alone to the playground (about 2 blocks), so I made them write our address and phone number on a piece of paper and carry the cell phone. I make them rewrite it every time they go. They're happy to do it in order to go to the park.

I also picked up a calligraphy set from a homeschooler's garage sale last week! The kids are very interested, but we haven't gotten started yet. I haven't had the time.

zoebird, I once nearly failed a spelling test because I was writing letters more like calligraphy than "normal" and the teacher didn't believe that my d was a d and not an a, etc. Like anyone, especially someone who almost never got a word wrong, would confuse d and a when spelling...

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions, and certainly feel free to keep them coming.

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Old 07-26-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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todo lists, grocery lists, party planning lists are all good ideas. I think when the purpose is immediate then there is less fear that it might not be "right" and maybe that clears the path for writing.

writing in snow or on steamed up windows also sounds fun.

I have played games like hangman, code-breaking, treasure hunt with dd just so that she learned and practiced writing letters.
We've also made a habit of writing name and date on papers, artwork, etc. We also keep a diary - dd dictates and I write but she always writes the date and often the first and/or last sentence. Even if it is just hello and bye, she's writing.

no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:14 PM
 
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So glad to have found this thread at this particular moment!!
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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My DS is younger, but we practice writing by doing things that he likes. For example, I make my own worksheets with our family's names, our pets' names, his favorite color, so when he copies it and reads it he gets excited to read something he recognizes. He also writes letters to family.

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Old 08-10-2010, 12:21 AM
 
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I know this is the unschooling board, but I made my son start doing writing practice when I realized that NOT feeling comfortable with writing was holding him back from his interests. I just don't think he put two & two together (he is 7 y.o.) that he needed to practice to achieve that level of confidence and comfort with writing.

My son is immensely creative and always has several sketch pads going at one time. He draws nonstop (spending 45 minutes in the bathroom when he really only needed 30 seconds to complete his "business" because the rest of the time is spent drawing).....and he is always composing stories in his head....his gears are always turning. But he wasn't comfortable writing when it was called for, like to make comics, charts, etc. It was holding him back because he is a perfectionist and because he was stumbling when writing, he'd just avoid it and try to get US to write this & that for him.

I said you need this skill, because it will help you do the things you want to do. Let's get it out of the way.
Because he is a perfectionist, "drills" were a chore until I realized one really important thing....if you do the "lousy" or imperfect letters FIRST, on PURPOSE, it takes the fear away. So, with 21 repetitions being the (or so I've heard) number needed to form a habit, I had him practice one letter of the alphabet per day.

First I'd have him do 5 "lousy" letters and then 3 rows where he writes the letter 7 times (the magical 21). Getting the five letters "wrong" on purpose became immense fun for him and his favorite part. He would make them into crazy, swirling, insane works of art. That bugaboo thus being slain, he'd happily practice the 3 rows of 7!! It was all about his fear of getting it wrong, so facing that dead-on with a sense of humor really helped.

I may be an unschooler or an eclectic or whatever, but I refuse to let him be held back by lack of a basic skill. I view writing as an essential, because even though we have mostly switched to typing in this day& age, (a) I hate that and (b) Having to rely on technology to communicate is creepy. I hate the whole notion of being dependent on some faraway company when something as basic as writing is concerned. (I feel the same way about actual books vs. electronic. I love the electronic, but the PRINTED word is accessible (within reason) to every person, but it takes money to partake of what the major e-Book producers dole out.....I wish I had more time to make sense here but I am in a hurry tonight. Bottom line, I think writing is necessary and if it's holding a kid back, then maybe they need a bit of encouragement to get to where it's 2nd nature. And to where they can be proud of their writing.
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:47 PM
 
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on a local unschool list I'm on, one of the mommas posted about how we learn to read, and mentioned that pinning letters down in the 2D world of paper from the 3D world is one of the necessary developmental things; it stuck in my mind because at that time my dad was wigging out over pushing my ds to read (at 6!!) when ds still kept confusing lowercase b,d, and p. writing letters backward is a similar thing, if you think of a letter as a 3D object in space, the backwards letter is just a snapshot of that spinning letter, dtmas?

the only reason I would try any sort of strewing would be if I was concerned about fine motor skills, in which case anything that uses fine motor skills would also be helpful, including drawing as has been mentioned, painting, knitting, fingerplay like cat's cradle games, etc. but if you don't write, why should they?

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