Today, I thought I’d share with you how I went from struggling through handwriting lessons to having fun teaching my kids how to master their penmanship skills. It’s true! Lessons that I once dreaded became something that I looked forward to. Once I realized that my curriculum was falling short of my expectations and my son’s interest, I knew it was time to change things up.
When my son began kindergarten, I struggled to find ways to make handwriting fun and engaging for him. This became a battle that consumed most of our school time. I would print out handwriting pages with adorable pictures on them. Yet, those cutesy practice sheets only distracted him from proper letter formation.
Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve got your practice pages printed out and ready to go! The kids nailed practicing writing letters in the air, the salt bins, and the dry-erase boards. The brand new pencils are sharpened and ready to be used. It’s time to get started on that letter – pencil to paper. Students pick up their pencils and that’s where everything goes downhill.
Just as they get ready to trace that first letter, that darling little apple next to letter A catches their eye. All the sudden, they feel compelled to color that apple a shade it so rightly deserves. Next thing you know, there’s a whole forrest of exotic apple trees in every shade of graphite imaginable. Surely, any thought of tracing letters has completely fleeted. Talk about frustration! This is exactly how my first handwriting lesson with my second homeschooler went.
I know the story all too well. I’ve been down those rabbit trails that only led to hours of frustration. I’d try to reign in the focus back to the lesson, but that would only end in a fight.
Afterwards, I switched to a full-size practice sheet with letters only. No pictures! Yet those seem to be gruelingly long and redundant to a five year old.
(Funny how they have no problems gripping down on those pencils while scribbling like some kind of ninja. Yet as soon as the handwriting lessons come out we hear complaints of, “It hurts to lift the pencil.” Those poor little, weary hands can only handle so much!
Did I mention that I didn’t even take the time to test my son’s motor skills before introducing handwriting. Yup! I made all the rookie mistakes.
I could have done a better analysis on his fine motor skills, and yes, tracing twenty-six A’s can be intimidating for a child. But most importantly, without the interest or engagement of my child, mastering skills for long-term success was not likely to happen.
Handwriting was beginning to take up too much of our schooling time. At the time, I was learning how to juggle a newborn, a toddler, and two homeschoolers. I was not realistic with my expectations or my schedule. I made quite a few mistakes and hit a few roadblocks. It was time for me to be intentional with my time!
I needed to have a successful handwriting lesson. I needed a complete handwriting curriculum. One that would work for me and not against me. One that would conveniently optimize my teaching time and didn’t take me down rabbit trails of unforeseen adventures. A multipurpose curriculum that took advantage of closely related English studies, rather than requiring a separate time to teach handwriting exclusively.
I so badly wanted to find something that met all these needs. And I did! We went from the lesson that I described earlier to the lesson pictured below. However, I did not find the perfect curriculum until I learned the importance of mastering handwriting.
In Part 2 of this 8-part blog series, I will explain why handwriting is so important.
Could you relate to my story? Did you have a handwriting lesson end as a major fail? You are not alone! We learn from our mistakes and they make us more wiser. I hope my story has helped you. Stay tuned! There are lots more nuggets to pull from this lesson learned.