I went from struggling through handwriting exercises to having fun teaching my kids to master penmanship skills. It’s true! The lessons 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. Handwriting 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? Air tracing and salt bins activities went smoothly. You’ve carefully picked out handwriting practice pages and they’re printed and ready to go. Now, it’s time to get started on that first letter – pencil to paper.
Students pick up their pencils, and that is when everything goes downhill. Just as they get ready to trace that first character, that darling little apple, next to the letter A, catches their eye. All of a sudden, they feel compelled to color that apple a shade it so rightly deserves.
Next thing you know, there is a whole forest of exotic apple trees in every shade of graphite imaginable. Sure enough, any thought of tracing letters has completely fleeted. Talk about frustration! This is precisely how my first handwriting lesson with my second homeschooler went.
Does Teaching Handwriting Drive You Crazy?
I know the feeling all too well. Going down the rabbit trails leading to hours of frustration. I would try to reign the focus back to the lesson, but that would only end in a fight.
Afterward, 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 there is no problem gripping down on those crayons like a scribbling ninja during coloring time. Yet, as soon as the handwriting lessons come out, the complaints begin.
“My hand hurts! The pencil is too heavy!”
Wait a minute. Did I take motor skills into account? Yup, I made all the mistakes. I was flying by the seat of my pants.
In conclusion, I could have done a better analysis of his fine motor skills. Yes, tracing thirty As can be intimidating for a child but most importantly, without the interest or engagement of my child, mastering skills for long-term success was not likely to happen.
Failures Only Make Us Stronger
Handwriting was taking up too much of our schedule. At the time, I was learning how to juggle a newborn, a toddler, and two homeschoolers. I was not realistic with my expectations, nor my schedule. I made quite a few mistakes and hit a few roadblocks. It was time for me to be intentional with my time!
Firstly, I needed to have a successful and complete handwriting curriculum. Secondly, I wanted one that would work for me and not against me. Preferably, optimizing my teaching time. I did not want to go through another rabbit trail of unforeseen adventures. Therefore, exclusive handwriting lessons that required dedicated instruction time were not an option. Instead, I needed a multipurpose curriculum that took advantage of closely related English studies.
I especially wanted to find something that met all those needs, but I did not get it as quickly as I had hoped to. Eventually, we had fun making a game out of handwriting. We went from the lesson that I described earlier to the one pictured below.
However, to be effective, I needed to prepare my son for handwriting instruction. Stay tuned! There are many more nuggets to pull from this lesson learned. In Part 2 of this 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 all the wiser. The important part is understanding what went wrong, so that we can improve upon our shortcomings.