Friday, January 13, 2012

Handwriting Without Tears

Lately I've been thinking about teeth and handwriting and that there might be a cool correlation between the two.  Here's how it goes:  First graders typically enter school with tooth-filled smiles because they still have most of their baby teeth.  Early in the year their printing is rather precise--all capital letters with spaces between the words and a period at the end of their one-sentence stories.

Then wham!  Teeth start to fall out and at about the same time we begin to introduce proper lowercase letter formation.  As their mouths morph from all tiny teeth to toothless grins to a mixture of baby teeth and adult teeth, handwriting seems to go through a similar journey.  Those tidy uppercase "sentences" become a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters.  Periods disappear only to reappear in the oddest places.

This is a transitional time and your first grader's writing may not always look pretty.  Please remember that your children are not simply writing for neatness day in and day out--they are also learning to stick to a topic, to organize their writing and to think about word choice.  There's a lot going on as they learn to form lowercase letters in quick and efficient ways. 

To that end, please look for lowercase letters in your child's writing.  Compliment him or her on any attempts to "switch over" to using lowercase letters instead of uppercase.  This is a tricky time for many children.  It can be frustrating and sometimes overwhelming.  If you want to experience a little of what your child feels, try writing with your non-dominant hand.  And make sure you stay between the lines! 

If you click on the above picture of our Handwriting Without Tears workbook, you will hear the program's song that reminds early first graders to start to form their lowercase letters from the top.   The music starts out slow but hang in there because it speeds up and is a lot of fun.  I wonder if your first grader will remember it.  Probably!

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