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The Right Way to Write

I have been watching something wonderful happening.  Sher Bear is beginning to write.  This is wonderful because it is such an organic, developmental experience for her.

When Jor Man was that age, we were already doing a full "school" program at home.  I did more of a Classical Trivium program with him in the beginning.  I read "The Well Trained Mind" all the way through several times.  We worked on reading.  We worked on writing.  We worked on language arts.  We studied the Ancients and even mummified a chicken.  It was very intentional and rigorous.  And for a little while, it was fun.

I think it was fun because it was novel and I was only teaching one child.  Campster was there, getting into stuff and learning right along with us.  I was fresh and enthusiastic - and that goes a long way into making "school" fun.

Sher Bear writing.  Behind her paper are the Abeka blend ladders that a friend gave us.
But then we began to run into problems.  Jor Man didn't like to be told how to write his letters.  If I wasn't sitting there, watching each stroke, he might start a letter at the bottom, instead of at the top.  Or he might make his loops counter-clockwise, instead of clockwise.  Oh, the horror of it!

I can joke now, because I have distance and I now know that everything turns out all right in the end.  But at the time, I was really stressing myself out.  And Jor Man, of course, picked up on my anxiety.  He felt pressured to do it "my way" - which I kept telling him was the "right" way.  And the more I insisted, the more he balked.

And then there were the backwards letters.  Is he dyslexic?  What does it all mean?  So much worry - and so little fun.  Of course, I believed that if he didn't write correctly, it meant something about me as a teacher and parent.  And maybe it meant homeschooling wasn't working, and I'd need to send him to "real" school.  Ugh.

I got books on reversals, and worked with him.  That helped only when we were focusing on getting the letters (and numbers) to go the right way.  When he wrote outside of that time, they were all backwards again.

So I gave up.  Really.  And soon something else started happening.  He got really creative with his writing.  He started trying to write in cursive (he was 6 or 7 then), and he was pretty good.  He liked mimicking my writing, and his dad's.  He took an interest in how his writing looked, and soon the letters and numbers were going the "right" way.  His writing became incredibly legible.

I think his fine motor skills caught up and his interest in handwriting, now that mom wasn't badgering him about it, brought out the artist in him.  He wanted to learn calligraphy.  He began drawing cartoons.

Campster taught herself to write.  But then I intervened.  I tried "A Reason for Handwriting" and she didn't protest.  But she liked coloring the pictures more that writing the letters.  The letters were sloppy, and she didn't follow their instructions.  I could tell she had no interest in learning to write that way - so she wasn't giving it any real effort.  Another fail!

She still writes in nearly all capital letters, and usually reverses a letter or two.  I don't give it a second thought.  She writes a lot - all day calling out "Mom?  How do you spell . . .?"  The rest will come.

But what I am noticing now, that I find really fun, is Sher Bear's writing.  She's 4 1/2 and fascinated by words.  She loves to make us cards - I get three or four a day from her.  She'll ask me, or her brother or sister for help making a letter or spelling a word.  Sometimes, I'll get the magnetic lowercase letters down from the frig to spell something for her.  And sometimes I'll write it out myself and let her copy.  I might even get a highlighter and write out the words in yellow for her to trace over.  But that's the extent of our lessons.  I don't "make" her write anything.  I don't even have any of that lined paper in the house.  But we go through a lot of plain white copypaper!

And I am loving seeing her creative spelling of words and her joy in the process.  She wants to write, and read because she sees her family writing and reading.  She is teaching herself - just like she taught herself to walk and to talk.  I don't correct her, I just enjoy her.  The developmental stage she is in now is so lovely.  It's just great fun to watch it unfold.

Wish you were here!

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