anyone else not care about penmanship? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was talking with a friend the other day. Her children attend public school, and while at a parent teacher conference (just the idea of having a conference where another woman tells me how my little darling is doing is outrageous) the teacher really reams her out about her child's penmanship. I guess her child is not making her letters "properly" and the teacher has been having such problems with this child!

Does anyone else think this is silly? I mean, I want all of my children to eventually be able to write, but I really care nothing about their penmanship. My daughter makes these beautiful curvy lines on some of her letters.....and no, it's not the standard way of writing, but it's darn beautiful! And I spend absoluely zero time trying to force my kids to write a certain way.

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#2 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:36 AM
 
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My feeling has always been penmanship comes with maturity....not at 6 years old... Needless to say I have never pushed penmanship on my kids. My daughter chose to work on it independently at about 10yrs old purchasing a "Modern Manuscript" workbook with her allowance money. She still adds her own little twist to her writing and I'm alright with that. My son, well lets just say I can read his writing and that's what counts. After all he's only 8 and it will improve with time.

In a public school setting where the teacher has to grade numerous papers quickly I could see where good penmanship would be prefered at the youngest age possible...if only for the benefit of the teacher.
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#3 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:41 AM
 
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I agree, I think it's silly in the sense that I think it is more important to be able to compose and to get your ideas down in a coherent and interesting way. I also wish I had better handwriting when I go to write letters or cards, or signs, or notes, or anything that I'd like to have look elegant. I don't think it's worth traumatizing a child over, though. It doesn't need to be the same lesson as composition or grammar or spelling.
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#4 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:47 AM
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I can see why the teacher is concerned about the child's writing. Being able to write clearly and legibly is important for things like taking clear notes, so it's an important building block for skills in later grades.

As a schooling parent, I appreciate parent-teacher conferences - I don't always know how my little darling is doing. I can see how this teacher's attitude wasn't very helpful though.
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#5 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:51 AM
 
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I appreciate parent-teacher conferences as well.
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#6 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:56 AM
 
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Well, my daughter WRITESLIKETHISALLTHETIMEANDITDRIVESMENUTS.

So yes, I am trying to work on penmanship. She just turned eight, I'm thinking she should understand basic spacing and capitalization. I'm trying to teach her cursive, since she likes to run her words together anyway :P And I'm only teaching her lower case so far.

I'm not comfortable with parent/teacher conferences myself. Probably because when my oldest was in public school he was the brilliant guy with straight As in everything except conduct, his teachers never acted terribly fond of him.

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#7 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 02:01 AM
 
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Well, my daughter WRITESLIKETHISALLTHETIMEANDITDRIVESMENUTS.
.
my son writes like this inittybittylettersallruntogetheranditdrivesmenutsb uticanreadit I told him today that writing so I can actually SEE the letters would be an improvement....he'll get there eventually, though I might need glasses by the time he does.
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#8 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 03:14 AM
 
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I do care about penmanship in that I would like my kids to be able to draw letters and numbers correctly. Other than that, I don't worry about it at all. Most of our world is now computerized, and keyboarding and word processing skills are becoming even more important.

My son has always dislikes handwriting, even with the slow and gentle approach I tried to foster during his early elementary years(no penmanship until he was 7). He did eventually get through all the penmanship books and learned how to write corrently. He started doing keyboarding lessons this fall on Mavis Beacon, and loves it.
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#9 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 03:29 AM
 
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Penmanship is a little important- if your writing cannot be read- what is the pointof writing anything? Does it have to match the Zane-Bloser method? No, but when you read their work are you saying "Is that an e, an L, of no, it's an i. "

Reading, writing ideas, math and communicating are more important, but give handwriting a little practice.
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#10 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 04:18 AM
 
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Most of our world is now computerized, and keyboarding and word processing skills are becoming even more important.
Yeah that. I believe that touch typing is pretty much an essential life skill, I only care about penmanship as a way to explore letters. (OK, I realize that with a computer based career, I probably have a limited view of the world ). I think there are very few future things my DD will want to do (with the possible exception of going to public school ) where the quality of her penmanship will be a barrier in any way.

And as a leftie who ALWAYS got criticized for my penmanship, let me say that it can really, really, really get in the way of communication, creativity, and general happiness : .

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#11 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 05:59 AM
 
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Penmanship can be improved at any age. Often it's a matter of just writing a bit more slowly.

Children here are pushed hard to write well-formed letters, starting in cursive at age 4 or 5. They really, really push it here and most adults write badly, often illegibly. If they took 2 minutes more to write it, I wouldn't have to take 10 minutes to decipher it! Obviously forcing these kids to form their letters perfectly year after year does not help. I'm sure they learn to hate writing and as soon as they are free from school they write as badly as possible.

I prefer to let my son's writing improve as he grows. He gets frustrated when he "messes up" (I tell him if I can read it, it's good, but he likes them just so). He can hold the pen or pencil the way he wants. I have never held a pen the correct way, and teachers often tried to correct this but I write better and faster holding it my way. (to the people who tried to correct it, not to anyone here!)
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#12 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 06:14 AM
 
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We've told the kids that they might want to be able to write well enough that someone else can read it, but we are in no way forcing or requiring "correct" penmanship. I think making a big deal out of it is a bad idea...esp in the early years when motor skills do not yet lend themselves to beautifully printed or flowing letters.

My Ds almost never writes by hand. He hates it and will use a computer if at all possible. He can write by hand just fine though, and although he says otherwise, I think it looks fine. Dd taught herself cursive a few years back and is like me in that she switches back and forth between print and cursive in her writing. Neither of the kids was ever made to practice it.

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#13 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 06:45 AM
 
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Penmanship is not important to me. As long as we can figure out what they are trying to say and they are making improvements as they go, we're happy. My oldest {almost 8} suffers from dysgraphia and using pencils and crayons is almost painful for him. He fights it every inch of the way. He *can* write. He knows how. It just takes a LOT of effort on our part to get him to do it and when he does finally agree to write we are satisfied with that, and aren't willing to push for perfect penmanship yet. Most of the time he writes with a combination of upper and lower case letters, his letters straggle, getting larger and smaller in unpredictable places, and there are frequent cross outs... but we can understand what he is saying and he is trying, and the rest doesn't matter to us.

My other child who is able to write is five. He taught himself how to write when he was four, but he has a unique way of doing it. He turns his paper upside down and slightly crooked and writes that way. If he doesn't turn the paper upside down then his letters are always upside down and slightly crooked, and frequently backwards. He also writes them very LARGE and all upper case, which is all typical for a K kid, which he is. We're doing HWT, but not pushing it in any way, just when he wants to. I'm confidant that he will improve over time, too.
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#14 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 08:58 AM
 
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Hand up.

I love all the changes my DD makes in her own penmanship. Sometimes, she wants to write "fancy," so every letter has a bit of flare and curly-ques She's learning kanji so sometimes she makes up her own letters, a mixture of Latin alphabet and kanji or kana. It's very interesting what she comes up with!

She's 7 and writes in a mixture of capital and lower case. Her letters are readable.
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#15 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 09:15 AM
 
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I care about penmanship-- it's important that my handwriting be legible at least to me. I can't always type out my grocery list, or fill out forms on the computer, sometimes I have to write.

BeanBean is eager to write; I've been teaching him only because he becomes frustrated when others can't understand his handwriting. Honestly, I'll be kind of sad on the day that he stops putting extra legs on his E's, : but I know that he'll be thrilled to present his grandmother with a story he's written with his own hands, especially if she's able to read it.

BizzyBug has the worst handwriting I've ever seen in a child. She is *extremely* frustrated by the fact that other people can't read her handwriting without her standing there explaining. She really wants to write letters to communicate with other people, and stories, but her handwriting is impossible to decipher. When I started doing handwriting work with her, she was thrilled beyond belief. She's so pleased when other people understand her handwriting. That said, I don't think she'll get the help that she needs in school, because she really needs individual instruction for a whole host of reasons.

Mike and his father have the same handwriting, and it's atrocious. It's barely legible, and I don't know how to explain it... it looks like their hands are shaking and they're just learning how to form cursive letters. The letters are large and loopy, but the lines are so shaky that you can't always tell what the words are. The first time I saw Mike's father's handwriting, I thought that Mike's sister had brought a student to the house for some reason, and s/he had left a note for someone on the fridge. It took me a good 20 minutes to realize that despite the fact that it looked like a child's handwriting, that note had to have been written by FIL. I do not want BeanBean to inherit that handwriting! It's important to me that he be able to fill out forms and leave sticky notes and not have them mistaken for the work of a second or third grader when he's an adult. So I guess there's a bit more than legibility involved-- I think that a grownup's handwriting should look grown up.

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#16 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 10:58 AM
 
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As long as my kids can write legibly, I don't care whether it's standard print or something of their own creation. My oldest daughter uses a mix of upper and lower case and her letters definitely look like they were written by someone who was drawing something she'd been shown. No surprise considering her first language used a different alphabet. (Her Amharic handwriting is very legible.) But it doesn't bother me at all.

I'm not even going to bother teaching cursive, either, as the *ONLY* use I ever had for it was writing silly little essays in third grade that were supposed to be in my "best handwriting" (NOT printing.

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#17 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 11:26 AM
 
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My brother has handwriting that is truly illegible. So does my nephew (though he also has small motor delays so its mostly due to that).

I do think its important that your handwriting be legible. Yes keyboarding is an important skill but I don't think handwriting has quite been extinguished yet (though I admit I type far more than I write on a daily basis.

I don't care if its perfect at all but I want it to be legible.

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#18 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 11:42 AM
 
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Yes they are important but many times addressed in the wrong fashion. I have a child with motor skills issues and his writing, or lack of ability to write was a tip off of something not being right. My dad is dyslexic, his illegible handwriting was how he hid this issue. When he was in school dyslexia was just being lazy or stupid.

You have people that are anal and need to get over themselves on this subject. But many of the things the teacher is trying to teach is trying to make it easier for the child later.

Many accidents and time is wasted because of illegible hand writing. Talk to nurses and medical transcribers about this .

Yes typing and proper keyboarding is important but I have found with my three children it isn't until about 8-9ish they are big enough to start implementing good typing skills (typing by touch). Their hands just weren't big enough.

I work with an Occupational Therapist with my son's issues and she brings up little stupid stuff I have never thought of for skills he needs to learn to cope and live with in this world.

I also think you shouldn't be so judgmental about parent teachers meetings. I have had them with my children's teachers, guitar, speech therapist, OT, et are all my kids teacher and there are a lot of informal and formal discussions. I do not find it ridiculous to have these conversations.
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#19 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mamas who use schools - no judgement intended for you.....I know that not only are the conferences required but probably welcomed too....it's necessary to get to know your teachers and see what's happening in class. And my apologies to anyone who read my words & felt offended or bad.

I only feel for myself and my family that I find the idea of it repelling. I wouldn't like the feeling of giving my child over to another woman for the day & then have to talk to her about what's going on. I think it would make me really uncomfortable. Which is why I felt ok about posting this in the homeschooling forum.

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#20 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 01:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JessicaTX View Post
Well, my daughter WRITESLIKETHISALLTHETIMEANDITDRIVESMENUTS.
My son (8.5) writes just like this. The thing is, though, he's a great typist. He's forever starting grand novels that don't get finished, but in the three or four or five chapters he DOES get out, he implements capitalization, spacing, punctuation (including the correct use of quotes) - all of it. And, he's a much better speller than I am!

Yeah, I don't worry a bit. He knows the standard way of writing (how could he not with as much reading as he does?), and one of these days his fine motor skills will become his friend, rather than his enemy. I'm sure it will all change with time.
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#21 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 04:29 PM
 
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I'm not too concerned with penmanship. I know that if my children want others to be able to read their writing then they will make their writing legible. I also don't care at all if they form the letters in the "correct" manner. My dd does her lower case a's in an unique way. I'm not bothered by it at all and don't know why I would discourage her from writing in way that is natural for her.
I myself had horrid penmanship when I was a child and being called out on it and made to feel inferior because of it didn not make me feels so great to say the least. It also didn't motivate me to work on my hand writing.

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#22 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 05:41 PM
 
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Also, don't care. My daughter decided (belatedly) to try public school this year, and luckily we got into a very, very lax PS, yet I know the teacher will talk to me about her penmanship, which by adult standards is totally haphazard (lots of reversals, scribbles, etc). I guess if she wants to go, she'll play by their rules, but I've told her that as long as she can read it... I had many, many years of handwriting practice from an early age (in Montessori and homeschool - ugh, those D'Nealian workbooks!) and still have almost illegible handwriting. I'm not sure it's something you can forcibly teach a child. They might make 'em pretty while you're standing over them, but on their own, they'll revert to their norm. I agree with the PP - many times, it's about just about very sloooowly.

I do agree that computer usage makes handwriting almost obsolete. I write nothing by hand except my grocery lists, and nobody wants to read those. Really. Now, does that say "pears" or "prada?" Oh, shopping with the fabulously wealthy is such a rough row to hoe...
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#23 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 05:52 PM
 
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On one hand, my kids find is easier to make the letters the "right" way. I started out totally relaxed about penmanship and DDs found it frustrating because they knew the shape of a letter, but would start it in a different place each time the wrote it, retrace part of it, etc. It was a pain for them. So I taught them the standard ways to make some letters that were problematic for them. (I remember "g" being an issue.)

At the same time, I agree with everyone that adults getting worked into a tizzy over a 6 year old's penmanship is just silly. I have really worked on my own penmanship since having kids so that I can model neat handwriting for them, and they like to pick out sentences from books have me write it neatly and then they copy it.

I think it is odd that some school teachers get so freaked out this. I actually had someone question the way one of my DDs writes in cursive because it is sort of a cross between traditional and Italic. It is very neat and readable, but not *standard.* I can't see that it will ever matter. If she ever chooses to attend school, she'll be past the point where teachers care how the child makes a cursive "s" as long as they can read it.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 05:57 PM
 
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Nope dont care. If I can read it I don't care how they made it.
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#25 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 06:01 PM
 
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I don't think it is important that it is pretty, but I do think there are reasons to work on penmanship. Learning certain techniques can make it possible for a person to write for longer with less strain.

As my son has been in college classes I'm very clear that time spent working on handwriting was time well spent. Having decent handwriting helps him take notes without getting too tired and helps him on handwritten work (like math) and on tests in class. Without decent handwriting he'd be struggling in ways he doesn't need to because he spent time working on it earlier.
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#26 of 52 Old 09-21-2006, 06:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I only feel for myself and my family that I find the idea of it repelling. I wouldn't like the feeling of giving my child over to another woman for the day & then have to talk to her about what's going on. I think it would make me really uncomfortable. Which is why I felt ok about posting this in the homeschooling forum.
Will your child ever work with anyone other than you - as in a mentor, teacher, coach, tutor, etc. Will you find it uncomfortable to talk to those people or get their advice about how to support your kids' learning?
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#27 of 52 Old 09-23-2006, 03:30 AM
 
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I don't care about penmanship. My husband's penmanship is horrible - Truly horrible. He's an engineer with a college degree. I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and was a secretary for engineers for years. Almost *all* of the doctors and engineers who's handwriting I had to transcribe had atrocious handwriting. I also worked in two different hospitals for 3 years as a speech language pathologist, and many handwritten chart entries by doctors were horribly illegible - I swear the stereotype is there for a reason. There were also entries by physical therapists, and yes, even occupational therapists that were poorly handwritten. Of course all of these professionals had been successful college students - even before the age of the personal computer, so the argument that good penmanship is needed for college isn't necessarily a given. And the argument that one needs good penmanship to be successful in life isn't necessarily a given. Just ask your average neurosurgeon how poor penmanship has held him back in life.

I think the teacher honestly thinks that penmanship is important. And she's right in her own context. Penmanship is very important in elementary school. After that - not so much. Even in many high schools these days, kids take notes on laptop computers, and of the universities I'm familiar with hardly anyone takes notes by hand. My neices, nephews, neighbors, and friends who are in middle school and high school have to turn in their papers typewritten. They're not allowed to turn in handwritten papers. I'm actually surprised that Roar's son needs to take notes by hand in class! I guess I need to get out more.
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#28 of 52 Old 09-23-2006, 03:54 AM
 
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just a side note, when ds got his driver's permit, he Printed his name in basic print LIKE THIS and that was what he put as his signature. They didn't say a thing about it.
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#29 of 52 Old 09-23-2006, 10:00 PM
 
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penmanship may well be the actual straw that broke my ps back!

My now nearly 30 yr old son had horrific penmanship; he did fine when it was just printing, but they made it a deal breaker at school! Didn't matter that he aced his tests; he got Fs because he couldn't or wouldn't write in cursive. He is a strong leftie and there were NO left handed desks...

anyway, he ended up not graduating from high school and it started with penmanship

I, on the other hand was not nearly as "smart" There were very few tests that I aced, but my penmanship was beautiful and I graduated with a 'C' average over my high school career.

With my babes I'm guessing that penmanship will never be important to me
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#30 of 52 Old 09-23-2006, 10:33 PM
 
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i want my children's writing to be legible ... which is more than i can say for dh i think he needs to start over

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