Wednesday, February 28, 2007

December 12, 2000 - Poor Handwriting????

If I were you, I would get him into TYPING - today - (yesterday)! Here's
the thing . . . everyone needs to be able to print and write legibly, but
for those who struggle with this it is literally like climbing a mountain
each day. As much as I hate to say this - especially as a teacher - you
really don't have to write legibly to be successful in the modern world -
especially with the availability of computers! In fact, some of THE MOST
successful people I have known in my life have HORRIBLE penmanship! Every
doctor I have ever known, and many upper level management people I have
known have proven this theory. OK, now that I have defended your son a
little, Kelly, I need to clarify a few things . . . that doesn't mean we
shouldn't teach our kids neatness and accuracy in their
printing/cursive/italic or whatever penmanship method we use. Since he is
10, it is not that he doesn't KNOW HOW to do it correctly, it is simply a
neatness issue, right? So we basically need to just reinforce that what he
does write, MUST be neat. I know that is what you are already trying to
do, but he may look at that task as insurmountable, and it is only causing
friction between the two of you - and every mom who has this problem knows
exactly what I mean. Then, where do we draw the line between trying to
understand the unique problems and needs of our kids and maintaining high
standards for them that will benefit them in the long run?

Until he learns typing well enough to use it in all or most of his work,
you will have to find a common ground that will make both of you happy.
But once he has mastered typing, I would have him type everything he can.
IN ADDITION - every single day, I would require him to print one or two
sentences and write one or two in cursive - copied from the scripture, or
sentences from a library book on topic. Those sentences must be PERFECTLY
written, though - and I mean perfect, so that he will really be giving his
ALL to them. It shouldn't frustrate him too much because it would only be
a couple of sentences each, but it would train him to realize that he
absolutely MUST learn to write neatly. Another idea would be to have him
print the spelling words once and then again in cursive each day - with
excellence. Here you would be hitting two birds with one stone. If he
hasn't started typing yet at all, he will go through a rough period during
the time in which he is not yet good at typing and he still has horrible
penmanship. But, trust me, it will be worth it when he gains the
confidence in typing. Ryan HATED handwriting - he still does! Although
his was never a neatness issue, the mechanics of it drove him crazy (being
a lefy) and typing was so freeing for him! It took about a year for him to
get good enough at typing to use it all the time, but when that time
finally came there were SOOO many benefits. If you use a book like TYPE
IT, it is so simple (not expensive) and just takes practice. I know that
you must be thinking - "A YEAR!!!!! I can't wait that long!!!" In the
meantime, you might have him dictate some things to you some of the time so
that the frustration level doesn't run too high during his learning typing
period. This was my rule: if I didn't see the point of writing something,
I didn't make Ryan write it - he would answer verbally instead. But when
writing WAS required, I required neat work. I think your son will
appreciate that you understand how frustrating it is for him and that you
really are trying to help him through it. That doesn't mean you are
"lowering your standards of neatness" for him - IF the writing you make him
do maintains the highest of standards. Take a look at what he writes each
day and see where you could make a few changes to verbal work during the
short term. Meanwhile, require absolute neatness in what he does write and
make sure that he understands he must be very dedicated to his typing so
that he can work towards typing most of his own work. I can't really think
of anything in LA that could not be done through typing - in fact the
booklets and projects, would make much better presentations that way. I
cringe when I think of how much time I lost rewriting school assignments to
correct errors, and for neatness - and I had neat handwriting! Don't wait
until high school to start something that will help so much in the present.
I know parents who still type reports for their public school high
schoolers because they can do it so much faster than their kids. The
confidence gained in learning to type is a really big thing for kids - I
think it might help in your situation. Sometimes a struggle in handwriting
is really the underlying factor in kids not wanting to do writing
assignments, as well. If we correct the mechanical problem - and provide
the alternative of typing, it MAY eventually help in making our children
more open-minded about writing itself.

By reducing the amount of actual handwriting each day, in favor of verbal
assignments, where possible, you may actually see some results in what he
does have to write - even before he learns to type. Do what makes sense to
you and what seems fair, but make sure that he is held accountable in what
he IS required to write. I hope that some of these suggestions will be
useful to you, and that - even if you don't follow them exactly as I have
described, you will be able to adapt them to your own situation. Let me
know how it goes . . .


No comments: