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Handwriting Questions

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    Handwriting Questions

    Two part question:
    MY oldest is 4th - we started cursive in 2nd, he has gotten where he knows the how no problem but it's still really hard to read.

    I remember this well, especially with my boys! This is about the time students provide work to just meet the expectation but no extra effort is given. Even my daughters would provide sloppy work if they found I would accept it. Should you believe your son’s illegible writing is due to just wanting to get the assignments done and move on, talk with him. Tell him the expectation is his personal best writing and that you know what that looks like. Each of my children had to redo a paper here and there if I felt the work was subpar. They really don’t like having to redo papers this always worked for me. Remind him if you can’t read it, you can’t grade it. Offer bonus for beautifully done assignments. Be sure to display lovely work here and there and to brag on your student to his grandparents or other family members always when they are within earshot.

    If your student needs more practice to beautify their writing, we have a Copybook that can be used to help.


      Thanks Michelle!
      Sorry didn't realize that posted! Someone needed me and I thought I just closed out the window. We've been still working on the cursive workbooks and copybooks daily and it feels like he's settled into a style that's very hard to read even when he is doing his very best. His letters have very fat loops and at times I feel like all I'm seeing is a bunch of bubbles on a page. Im thinking I may need to cut back on how much cursive he's doing and focus on perfecting a smaller amount at a time and not reinforcing the bad habits further. Do you have any other suggestions?

      On the flip side, my second grader has really nice cursive but isn't very good with printing- he can make it look decent but forma multiple letters wrong, starts at the bottom etc. How much would you worry about this and if so, do you have any suggested resources or handwriting books for that age?


        Michelle gave my basic speech. There are lots of ways you can handle this provided you know that the skill is already there.

        Things that have worked for us (and are a repeat from above):

        I reject work that is illegible. Having to rewrite is a strong incentive to do it right the first time. You can do this in a punitive way, making them rewrite a sentence or word 5-10 times, or you can tell them they can write it as many times as they want, but that the standard is the child's best work, so only that will be accepted. It helps to point to an example of your student's best or very good writing. The NAC books are good examples of this because there is a lot of analysis of slant, sizing and spacing (and evaluating your own "best" penmanship).

        We had a reward system for a while where my eldest could earn 10 cents in book money for each spelling or Latin vocab list done beautifully, 25-50 cents for comprehension questions and a dollar for compositions (ATFF and CC). You'd think the child would've been rolling in the money, but it was a tough standard to meet, so it didn't always net the money. Over time, as interests changed, it became beautiful stationery money, and that developed a few pen pals and letter-writing relationships with family. And the nice thing is that in general, making good handwriting the goal netted an increase in good penmanship in all subjects regardless of money offered.

        My fourth grader is still struggling to make good penmanship a priority, especially as the workload has increased. We are doing a full accelerated core, 100% as written, and it is a lot of writing. I am trying to pick my battles in a way that does not fatigue my sweet child's ability to hang in there with me. It is still a goal, and when I am present, I absolutely give my pep talk of the three P's and three S's, best foot forward, etc, etc.

        Recently my mom showed me some work of mine she saved from seventh grade. It was atrocious penmanship! I remember clearly having penmanship envy. One summer before ninth grade, I got a beautiful notebook and a fancy ballpoint and practiced writing each letter in isolation. I practiced all summer. If I saw a particularly beautiful uppercase cursive letter, I would try to copy it. Now, I am well-known for my beautiful handwriting, and it baffles my own kids that I ever had illegible, sloppy handwriting. Sometimes all it takes it impetus. I am trying to win more flies with honey than vinegar these days. I just finished a 50-part lecture series on church history (from a Reformed perspective). Hearing about some of the early church fathers (like Anselm and Francis of Assisi) has reframed a bit for me. I love their approach to teaching the men in their ministry, starting with the heart, being patient, and leading by example in perseverance. There is so much to glean.
        Mama to 2

        MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
        SY 20/21


          Rather than cutting back on the amount of cursive, I would expect more practice. It may be Copybook IV is just what he needs along with NAC III for the 4th grader.

          I wouldn’t worry about the manuscript of your second grader at this point. Other than his name, he will not use it much. If you are concerned, work on perfecting his name.


            Thank you both for the advice and encouragement!
            ​​​​​​(And for letting me stop stressing his manuscript!)