Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why I'm Not Teaching My Child to Write

Last week, while I was at work, my husband was at our home(pre)school co-op, talking with the moms, and the topic of writing was brought up.

Some of our preschoolers will be starting kindergarten in the fall, some will be in TK (transitional kindergarten), and some will be attending preschools with kindergarten-readiness programs. This is all to say that my friends are trying to get their children to hold pencils correctly, to form uppercase and lowercase letters, to write letters smaller and neater... and we're not.

So when Pete was asked about why we're not, he told them to ask me.

Here goes:

We're going to start formal writing instruction in a little over a year, when Gemma is 6. (This is when we're going to start all formal instruction, not just writing.)

When we do start writing instruction, I'll be teaching her cursive, not print. This is not Charlotte Mason methodology. Charlotte Mason's students learned to print first. They also learned to read starting at the same time, so letter formation and recognizing printed letters and their sounds went hand in hand. (The same idea can be found in Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which we used at age 3 without the writing component.)

Why cursive? 

First, Gemma has already taught herself to print capital letters, and some lowercase letters. They are not small or neat, but they don't need to be - yet. I'm not worried that she will be unable to print in her adult life.
Second, I want Gemma to have beautiful penmanship. Plain and simple. I've read lots of reasons about why we should teach cursive, but my main reason is that I want her to education to be filled with the arts, including the art of handwriting. I know that seems like a silly rationale to some people, especially in a day when we need to type more than write, in a day when one can type a whole page on a phone with just one thumb.

When we do start writing instruction, we'll start with letter formation, with the goal of quality, not quantity. It's more important to me that Gemma form one letter beautifully, than a page of letters that are "okay." Maybe we'll write letters in sand. We probably will, seeing as how we have access to quite a bit of it. Maybe we'll write in shaving cream. Maybe we'll even write on paper. ;)

After letter formation, we'll start copywork. We'll find quotes from the books we read, like this one from Aesop's fables - A kindness is never wasted. - sentences that model correct grammar and mechanics and stir the emotions.

At the public school where I teach, kindergarteners are required - in December - to draw a picture and write a complete, grammatically correct, original sentence that goes with their illustration. My mom-friends are getting their children ready for that.

I have more time. I'm not under the same constraints. 

Now, I'm going to publish this post with my thumb, and email the link to my husband so he knows what to tell people the next time the topic comes up. I have a feeling his response will go something like this...

"I'll send you the link to my wife's blog."


  1. "sentences that model correct grammar and mechanics and stir the emotions."... I wish I had learned writing this way. Definitely the right way. Thanks for setting your standards high in the heart.

    1. Frankie, you MUST have learned to write this way! "Setting your standards high in the heart." Thank you, my poet-friend. :)

  2. So very wise! I think you are spot on.

  3. I can ABSOLUTELY see Pete doing that, LOL !!!
    On Wisdom - Proverbs 4:6-8 …6 "Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. 7 "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. 8 "Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her.…

    I know that YOU search for Wisdom in everything you do, and are still delighted with discovery, whether it's your own, G's or one of your students! I don't just say that that because you're mine, but I'm thankful for you every day ! LOVE, MOM