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Four-year-old son having trouble with manuscript

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    Four-year-old son having trouble with manuscript

    We are using Leigh Lowe's P-K Letters and Numbers writing programs. They are very well done! My problem is that my son seems to be really struggling. He says he can't do it, and when he tries, he does it completely wrong, even after I have shown him several times. He loves being read to (We are reading CHARLOTTE'S WEB right now), and he has even been able to memorize Latin prayers rather proficiently. Do you think he might have some kind of learning disability? Is he too young for handwriting? Is this a behavioral problem or is handwriting just more difficult for boys?

    My daughter is 4 and we are about 6 wks into the program. I think handwriting is difficult for many or most 4 year olds. I've read that it's often even harder for boys. I only just was able to stop literally holding my daughter's hand (my hand cupped over hers, doing the motions with/for her) to do the writing. For awhile, especially if she's frustrated, I just had her trace them with her finger. She only rarely is willing to try to write without tracing the dotted lines. Playing with a chalkboard seems to be really helping. We took a 2 wk break while illness ran through the house and during that time she played a lot on her chalkboard. When we restarted this week, she had made a huge jump in her ability to hold the pencil and press hard enough on the paper to make darker marks and control where the pencil went when she tried to trace the lines.

    If I remember correctly, the notes for the kindergarten program even indicates that some kids won't be ready for writing while doing the K curriculum even tho they are ready to learn to read.

    I don't think I'd stress too much about it and just work on the letter recognition and strengthening and maturing the hand/fingers with things like beads, paint, playdo, chalk, puzzles, etc. The kindergarten page has a great link about Kindergarten readiness that I think is very applicable for keeping in mind during the JK year.

    My hardest part is getting her to try to answer the questions that go along with the stories...some I don't even try to ask! like, what does the year of the book tell you about the story. still haven't figured out if that question is directed toward me or the kids.


      Thanks so much!

      Your suggestions are terrific. I feel relieved now! Getting him his own little chalkboard is a good idea. I can probably mix things up by having him work with play-doh and do some of the other activities you mentioned. We can always keep going over the letters and numbers, too. What you said about letting your daughter trace the letters with her finger when she gets frustrated is something I will try, too.


        My kids wouldn't have been able to do that at four. My youngest just turned four and he's learning to form his letters & numbers by writing with his finger in a tray filled with salt and with chalk on the driveway. From this point, my other kids have moved on to Kumon's Uppercase and Lowercase letters book. The letters in these books are much bigger and without guide lines.

        From what I've seen, it takes a while to get the fine motor coordination to make those small, straight lines. I would do a little writing (or pre-writing) every day, but don't work at a level that will frustrate him.
        Jill, mom to
        ds10 (MP 5th), ds8 (MP 3rd), dd6, ds5


          Hi, Leslie.

          You are getting good advice here. You might also visit our Classical Education for Struggling Students section of the forum for help if you continue to see issues that make you think your son could have a learning problem.

          We want to help in any way we can.





            My guys are having the same issues. I just concentrate on having them TRACE the letters. It's hard for me, as I have twins. One son likes to practice, and the other hates it. "It's too hard", etc.

            My older daughter (now 6) didn't like to write either. I had to really encourage her as well. We actually interviewed at Highlands Latin School, and the gal there suggested just working on fine motor skills. Playdough, beading, etc.

            My boys LOVE to work with scissors, so that's a plus. I also tried a new trick that I saw on Pinterest.

            If you have a chalkboard, write the letters on the board. Give your son a tiny bit of water and a qtip and have him trace the letter. The Letter will disappear, and he can then use chalk to write it again. My sons kept doing this over, and over and over!

            I actually wrote a post about ways to work on fine motor skills, too.
            Plans for 2021-22

            Year 11 of homeschooling with MP

            DD1 - 26 - Small Business owner with 2 locations
            DD2 - 15 - 10th grade - HLS Cottage School/MPOA/True North Academy/Vita Beata - equestrian
            DS3 - 13 -6A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
            DS4 - 13 - 6A Cottage School -soccer -auditory processing disorder
            DD5 - 9 - 4A, Cottage School/MPOA -equestrian
            DS6 - 7 - MPK - first time at the Cottage School this fall!


              Thanks Tanya and Dianna!

              Thanks for the good advice. Dianna, I really like the q-tip board idea, and your blog post. I checked out your Kennedy Family blog, too! I love it! Leslie