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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DS has shown a lot of interest in writing lately. He wants me to spell the words and he prints them (in block letters), or we sound them out together. As is to be expected, he will sometimes write right to left, write mirrored letters, start out left to right and continue right to left like antique inscriptions, reverse letters, and have weird ways of forming the letters, ie he'll always go from the bottom up, write an H with five individual strokes and so on.<br>
I've not been worried about it, and apart from pointing out that there are conventions about writing from left to right which make reading his words easier, and getting into talking about different conventions in different parts of the world, I am not really interested in teaching writing - I live in Europe with mandatory schooling and I'd rather he had something left to learn in first grade (I am not sanguine about reading and math), nor do I want to spoil his fun or quench his interest, after all he's only three.<br>
Now my mom thinks I'd better teach him right habits from the start, particularly show him the right way to form his letters, rather than letting him acquire wrong habits he has to unlearn. Not sure what the right way is to go about this. Any thoughts?
 

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I'm not sure of the right answer either. I can tell you our experience.<br><br>
Our son taught himself to read and write when he was 3 1/2 and 4 years old. When he got to k it was very frustrating for him. They focus a lot on proper letter formation and he did find it frustrating to unlearn how to write and do it how they wanted. He's still struggling with this. Printing has been such a battle for us for the past two years that I've decided to just give up the fight. This summer we are going to learn cursive and typing. Starting from scratch with a new way of writing, I hope, will be better.<br><br>
However, there are so many systems for teaching writing and what is considered correct form for proper letter formation. My husband tells about learning writing, then switching school where they used a different writing system and finding it confusing and frustrating to unlearn and relearn how to form the letters for the teacher. So basically teaching him how to write properly won't necessarily mean that the school will be using the same system you teach him in two year and won't necessarily save him any frustration.<br><br>
Plus this is mainly a frustration, only for the first couple of years of school when the focus is on learning to write. Once they move beyond that point teachers don't care how the letters are formed as long as they are legible. Students writing also tends to naturally change as the writing demands of their school work increases. They tend to modify their writing habits to make writing quicker and easier for themselves.
 

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DD was writing from 3 on and has totally unlearned all her old methods and relearned D'Nealian print (<a href="http://www.dnealian.com/samples.html" target="_blank">http://www.dnealian.com/samples.html</a>) in K. Her handwriting really looks awesome now and it's something she actually learned in K. That said, she has great fine motor skills.
 

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My 4.5 yr. old writes his letters in similar ways-- a T will be (or used to be?) three separate strokes, he often starts at the bottom, etc. But it is legible, smaller and neater than my first grader's. He's going to K this fall and I know they'll work on it there; for now I just watch and see it improving naturally. His brother taught him a song that goes "Where do you start your letters? At the top!" so he does know that he is supposed to start at the top and sometimes does now.<br><br>
I did buy him a handwriting workbook at his request that has arrows and numbers that show how to write the letters, and he's used it a couple times. You could offer him something like that if you want him to have the option of learning the "right" way to write.
 

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I would work on correct letter formation now if it were my child because what I saw in DS1's school was a complete lack of focus on correct letter formation and I had to teach him proper letter formation myself after he was allowed to slip into awful habits at school.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for your input!<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">So basically teaching him how to write properly won't necessarily mean that the school will be using the same system you teach him in two year and won't necessarily save him any frustration.</td>
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I was envisaging myself approaching an elementary school teacher to find out what method they would be using, and her just telling me, with that look, to stop pushing my child already...not gonna happen. Nor do I remember learning this in school myself, probably because I skipped the year most of this would have been taught (I remember elementary school teachers being on my case about my apparently inadequate handwriting in later years). It's one the reasons I would not really know what to do if I ever felt the need to formally teach this kind of elementary school stuff myself. I am kinda counting on his picking reading up by himself at some point, like me, and will count for correct math on his father and grandfather who are both HS math teachers...<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">DD was writing from 3 on and has totally unlearned all her old methods and relearned D'Nealian print ( <a href="http://www.dnealian.com/samples.html" target="_blank">http://www.dnealian.com/samples.html</a>) in K.</td>
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this is a great link! What a perfect blend of print and cursive. Hmm, quite inspiring actually...I may draw a few general rules from this and sort of mention them in passing!<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">My 4.5 yr. old writes his letters in similar ways-- a T will be (or used to be?) three separate strokes, he often starts at the bottom, etc.</td>
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We have no idea where DS learned to write his name, he just started doing it awhile after starting preschool, so I imagine someone must have taught him there, or more likely he just started copying his name after a teacher wrote it down for him in block letters. Because really, how would he have come up otherwise with starting an H at the bottom left, making a little staircase, finishing at the top right, then meticulously filling in the top left, then the bottom right stroke??? DH noticed it first and was like "so cute! come and watch this!" I did kinda casually point out that doing it in three strokes might be faster, and he has come around gradually. Really not easy if you know that if you let him realize you are formally teaching him, he'll shut down.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I would work on correct letter formation now if it were my child because what I saw in DS1's school was a complete lack of focus on correct letter formation and I had to teach him proper letter formation myself after he was allowed to slip into awful habits at school.</td>
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I am fairly sure that they are still big on correct letter formation around here, the way they used to be when I was a child (though the focus at that time was exclusively cursive, I think they are doing more print now). What I want to avoid is the "you are not doing this correctly"-"but that's how my mom taught me!"-"tell your mom not to work ahead with you!"-scenario.<br><br>
I think I will look at the DNealian print again, draw a few general and useful rules from that and mention them in passing, as in "It might be easier if...", watch him as he keeps working this out and take it from there. Maybe as long as we stay away from actual cursive and leave that one to the school, we'll be okay.<br><br>
Thanks again, this has been a helpful conversation for me.
 

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Unless he absolutely has a driving interest in doing this, I would instead focus on building fine motor strength and skills unrelated to writing with play doh, silly putty, legos, playing with chopsticks or tongs and picking up small objects, etc. It is entirely age appropriate to still be forming mirrored letters, writing right to left, etc.<br><br>
My DD has fine motor delays, did quite a few weeks of OT before school started, was forming letters quite well and then had to go through the school's chosen Handwriting Without Tears curriculum from the start anyway.
 

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I honestly have no idea how many other schools use D'Nealian or if other kids like it, but my DD really does like it and I haven't heard a single complaint about relearning how to write. She is writing MUCH more and MUCH more legibly than she did at the year's start. I'm a little surprised, but pleased, that we seem to have none of the writing reluctance often seen with gifted kids.<br><br>
She wrote this "blurb" tonight on the back of a Magic Kitten "book" (<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FSummer-Spell-Magic-Kitten%2Fdp%2F0448449986%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_2" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Spell-M...ref=pd_sim_b_2</a>) she is writing. The only thing she asked me was how to spell "Rachel."<br><br>
"A little tabby kitten is twinkling with magic but needs a purrfect friend. And that's how Rachel's moveing day gets a lot smoother when she finds tabby kitten Flame."<br><br>
(Yes, she misspelled perfect on purpose. Hee. "Moveing," not so much.)
 

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Well, in retrospect I would probably give more instruction.<br><br>
DS started writing at two and by the time someone tried to teach him the "right" way to write it was pretty much a lost cause. He drew instead of wrote a lot of his letters, which is very inefficient. Now he is learning cursive and that has helped--- he has moved some of the letter formation into his printing.<br><br>
I wouldn't stress over it and I wouldn't even worry about it unless he is writing a lot. Most kids learn to write "correctly" with no problem. DS is just a combo of very strong-willed, unwilling to admit he is wrong and having writen for years before anyone tried to correct him (since his writing looked fine no one corrected it until 1st & 2nd grade).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Unless he absolutely has a driving interest in doing this, I would instead focus on building fine motor strength and skills unrelated to writing with play doh, silly putty, legos, playing with chopsticks or tongs and picking up small objects, etc.</td>
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Oh, he's doing artwork and legos all day - or has been doing so, the weather has turned after literally weeks of rain, it's finally summer and we're out there messing with sand and water and hope to do so all summer, YAY! Writing actually comes up these days mostly in connection with his drawing - the plane he's drawn is flying to England. so he wants to write England. We've also started sending sending his artwork to the grandparents - he loves that, and wants to sign it, write their names on it, help adressing the envelope and stuff. Otherwise his interest comes mostly in spurts, but when it comes around, it's driving. As always.<br><br>
Loraxc, love the blurb! Will she get some of her stories finished over the summer, do you think?<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">He drew instead of wrote a lot of his letters, which is very inefficient.</td>
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This is interesting - what exactly do you mean by "drawing"?
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Tigerle</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15485737"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">\This is interesting - what exactly do you mean by "drawing"?</div>
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I think someone else has already described it. Like a lower case "a" would be made by drawing a circle and then adding short straight lines both above and below on the circle on the right side. Or an upper case "A" might be made by drawing a triangle and then adding legs. A lower case t could be made with four sticks instead of two. And so on. Basically, the letter looks correct but it is formed to look like a letter, not how most people would actually write a letter kwim? For a very young child this actually often produces better LOOKING letters (because the pieces match up "correctly") but long term it adds a lot of steps that aren't helpful or necessary.
 

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Since fast, smooth writing is a matter of muscle memory, the more practice he gets with writing the better off he'll be. If you wait to let him be taught handwriting in school, what will happen is he'll have to unlearn how he's been writing up until now, will be slower at writing than kids who have done no writing, and will have to think more about how he's writing than what he's writing.<br><br>
Get a hold of the handwriting system used by your local school and introduce your ds to it. When he's interested, get a tray of sand, or make a clear spot in the dirt in the garden and let him play with writing the letters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>TiredX2</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15488795"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think someone else has already described it.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Actually, I think <i>I</i> have - my DS' peculiar way of "drawing" an H. Yes, drawing his letters is exactly what he does. I'll keep an eye on how this develops.
 
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