Today, I thought I’d share with you how I went from struggling through handwriting lessons to having fun teaching my kids to master 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.
Have You Ever Had a Lesson End in a Major Fail?
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? Practice pages are printed out and ready to go! The kids nailed tracing letters in the air, in the salt bins, and on the dry-erase boards. The brand new pencils are sharpened and ready to be used. It’s time to get started on that first 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.
Does Teaching Handwriting Drive You Crazy?
I know the feeling all too well. I’ve been down those rabbit trails that led to hours of frustration. I’d try to reign the focus back to the lesson, but that would only end in a fight.
Afterwards, I switched to a full-size practice sheet solely with letters. No pictures! However, those pages seem to be gruelingly long and redundant to a five year old.
(Funny how they have no problem gripping down on those crayons like some kind of scribbling ninja. Yet as soon as the handwriting lessons come out we hear complaints, “My hand hurts. The pencil’s too heavy.” 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.
Failures Only Make Us Stronger
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. 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 and complete handwriting curriculum. One that would work for me. Not against me. One that would conveniently optimize my teaching time. I couldn’t do another rabbit trail of unforeseen adventures. Exclusive handwriting lessons that required dedicated instruction time was not an option. No, I needed a multipurpose curriculum that took advantage of closely related English studies.
I so badly wanted to find something that met all these needs. And eventually I did! We went from the lesson that I described earlier to the lesson pictured below. However, in order to be effective, I needed to properly prepare my son for handwriting instruction. Stay tuned! There are lots more nuggets to pull from this lesson learned.
In Part 2 of this 6-part blog series, we will discuss the necessary prerequisites for handwriting instruction.
Do You Know Where Handwriting Practice Went Wrong?
Can you relate? Did you have a handwriting lesson end as a major fail? You are not alone! We learn from our mistakes and they make us the wiser. I hope my story about teaching handwriting has helped you.