This is my first year homeschooling. My daughter is 5 1/2 and we are doing "kindergarten." We are using the reading program "Little Angels" and I really like it. She is doing great job sounding out words. She knows all her letters and the basic sounds they make.
The problem I am having is with writing. If I show her how to write a letter, she does a good job writing it. However, she is not retaining memory of how to write different letters. She's also mixing up capital and lowercase... even though if I were to point to a letter and ask her if it's capital or lowercase, she would get it right.
An example- today we tried out first test. All she had to do was write the capital letter next to the given lowercase letter. I couldn't believe how she struggled with this! I finally gave up and decided we would do some practice writing.
I wrote a lowercase P on the first line (we were using the big lined kindergarten paper), and she proceeded to write about 10 beautiful lowercase p's. But when she moved on to the next line, she couldn't do it anymore. She had medium sized p's kind of floating in the middle, she had tiny little p's squished between the dotted line and bottom line.... I mean, she JUST WROTE 10 great p's! How did she forget from one line to the next?
Is this normal? Is this a sign of a learning disability? She does have some "issues" and is "different" from other kids.... It's so frustrating. I'm trying to be very laid back. We aren't using any set curriculum (although I do have the lesson plan for the reading program). We only do about an hour and half or so of school 3-4 days a week, where we are actually sitting down. Other than that, I try to incorporate learning into everyday activities. She's a bright kid. She taught herself all her letters, numbers, colors, and shapes before she turned 3. In some ways, her memory is extraordinary. But she can't remember how to write a letter from one line to the next....
But now I feel like I'm doing it all wrong. And my patience is so thin some days that I just have to call it quits and try again the next day. I've also got a 3 year old and a 1 year old.... Sending the kids to school is not an option, so I have to get this right. Any help would be appreciated.
Corrie, "trad" Catholic, wife to DH and Mom to DD (4/07), DS (2/09), DD (2/11), DD (4/13), two angel babies.
Some kids (my oldest) seem to strongly tie writing letters to reading. So, when her reading was just starting, she struggled with writing, just like your daughter. Once she was reading more fluently, her desire to practice her writing exploded.
Writing uses a different part of the brain. It makes so much sense to adults that if one recognizes lower case and upper case, one should be able to answer correctly when writing them on a quiz. It makes so much sense to adults that one could copy a letter underneath on the next line as easily as one could write next to it, but that's not the case. You could attempt to copy a more complex drawing yourself, and you will find that there are places that it's easier to copy it, and places where it isn't so easy. Why this is true, I can only guess. It could be where the eye could easily keep sight of both the letter and what she is writing, or it could be something to do with how the brain puts information together, I don't know.
So, I might continue with letter recognition like you are doing, but focus on pre-writing skills--shapes to strengthen the hands, but not so specifically letter-oriented. Wait until she feels a bit more comfortable reading, then try writing letters again.
Continue to be flexible--she might never really jibe with the exercises you've been doing, but might enjoy projects that involve labeling or writing letters to loved ones. At that age my girls both wrote the most when making signs for all the farms and zoos they created out of blocks, scarves and their animals.
ETA: One of the things I am discovering as a parent and a HSer is how much we adults take for granted. Before our children started dropping food on the floor over and over again we might have thought, well, of course things fall to the ground. But for babies this is a new discovery. And what we assume is one skill is actually two or several. We also learn that some kids (ours!) can make this painfully obvious!
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
One idea would be to make forming letters more kinetic and tactile and fun for a while and then intersperse some actual "writing activities" when moments present themselves or the time seems right. Also, it might make sense to just focus on lowercase letters since those are the vast majority of the letters we ever write in our life. She will learn uppercase eventually but there's really no need for it do be done in conjunction with lowercase, especially if it lowers everyone's stress level
Make play dough or salt dough and form letters with rolled out pieces of dough
Pour salt or fine sand into a tray or cookie sheet with sides and use your finger to write out letters
Spray shaving cream on the kitchen table or floor (or on a tray) and again use your finger
"Paint" letters with a chubby brush and water onto wood, or the sidewalk, and watch them fade away
Using regular shaped pretzels, see what letter shapes you can create by strategically biting off bits of the pretzel. I think my dd has done over half the alphabet!
I'm sure there are many other fine ways to go about this process; feel free to be creative!
Writing letters in the sand on a beach lets kids write them REALLY BIG!!!! And amazingly perfect....
That's why I think separating letter writing for perfection from shape-writing for strengthening little fingers can be helpful. Drawing shapes can be about the practice, and not the visual result, and she can focus on learning to command her fingers without the judgment of comparison to a real letter. You know how little kids "write" whole pages of scribbles to look like writing? They may not be writing, but they are building the muscles that will allow them to.
Also, while it's helpful at times to use the double-lined paper for proportioning letters properly, it might not be enough room for unfamiliar muscles to make the shape well. So, let her write on plain printer paper as well, and let her write as large or as small as she needs to form the letter well.
At this age, the goal is building an attitude of "I can do this!" Taking the time to cultivate this will pay of in a big way down the road. She needs praise for dedicated *effort*, because just the fact that you have a daughter who loves sitting down with you to do her work is precious--something that many HSing parents on this board would give their left ear to have.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
One of the reasons kindergarteners need to do some much writing in school is because there are 25-30 of them in the class and the teacher needs to be able to assess what they know, where their strengths and struggles are, and doesn't have the time to sit with each kid individually everyday. It means that k's are pushed to write often before they are really ready or before they can be super successful. It is one of the things that I like about homeschooling for kinder (our future is more up in the air than I would like). I don't need ds to write to show what he can do because he can just tell me.
For example, ds is great at doing math, but can't form most numbers. He can recognize numbers and read them but he can't write them. Sometimes he wants to do equations but he can't write the answers. He can tell me the answers and I know he understands the addition or subtraction and that the thing he actually struggles with is the handwriting. It is such a benefit for him because he is able to conceptually work on his level even though he can't physically do it. If he were in a regular kinder classroom his teacher probably wouldn't know that he can do the math that he is capable of because he wouldn't have a way to show it.
Wow! Thank you so much for the replies! I feel a lot better :) We are going to take a break from writing for a few days, and stop doing the repetitive exercises indefinitely. I love all the ideas for the different ways to practice writing letters... much more fun than sitting and writing on lined paper.
Again, thank you so much!
I didn't read the previous responses too closely but saw some great tips. While I homeschool now (my dc is older), I taught K for many years. Things I found worked well were lots of movement activities that engaged the whole body. We would use our arm, our foot, our ear, our tongue, even an extended pointer finger to write letters in the air and talk as we did it about how the letter was formed. We would say the alphabet and touch different parts of our bodies for how tall a letter is (a-touch waist, b-touch head, c-touch waist, d-head, e-waist, f-head, g-toes...etc). We would make letters out of things like play dough or in things like shaving cream or sand. We would take construction paper, draw the letters on, then have the kids glue something tactile to it (so corn kernels on C), then let the kids use that to run their fingers over for practice. Anything fun that provided the repetition needed to learn the letters and their formation without it being strictly workbook practice or tests.
From my own kids, I learned that some things come super easily and others can be a real challenge. Dc1 learned if she was shown once. Dc2 [who has motor planning problems] taught me that doing things carefully with the same steps each time often makes a big difference. So as an example teaching lower case i as- "Start at the midline, draw straight down, stop at the base, pick your pencil up and make a dot just above"- every time the same way makes a big difference in how quickly he would learn.
Sounds normal! mixing up letters is very common in kindy and writing is something you start but really doesn't start to take off until 1st or even 2cd grade. Keep practicing and she'll get it.
Ak Hippie mama Yamia DSD '03 DS '07 DS2 '09 & DS3 '12
DD loved making giant (like seven foot long) masking tape letters on the floor and walking or skipping them. We just did a few, I think N, R, and S? This was right around the Olympics, so she pretended they were a balance beam. I just thought it would be a fun, different way to explore, but the reversals stopped instantly--for her it must have been the exact piece she needed.
Writing and math facts seem to be the two biggest "Are they doing enough?" question for homeschooling elementary.
My two cents on the writing, for my kids anyway, is that as they move into and through elementary, I want them to be putting together a scaffolding. Writing is a process, and it does get more effortless (or, at least, the writer has more experience filling a blank paper with words, and more reason to trust that this time also the words will come in time) with practice, and there are discrete pieces that facilitate the process. IMO the trick is finding ways that feel authentic and manageable for the child, working on the pieces if the whole is overwhelming, and trusting that the pieces will come together when the skill and developmental level is there.