After the topic of teaching a child how to read, there is probably no other topic that can worry a parent more than teaching handwriting when homeschooling the early years.
Having taught all three of my sons from the beginning how to write, I am eager to share what worked, what was fun and oh yes, what was flat out dumb too.
Instead of jumping right into the ideas though, I think it’s important for you to understand some basic background information about the process of writing that I learned the hard way.
Educating yourself about the process too will help you to avoid confusion as you talk about it with others, research options and generally try to educate yourself about this beautiful and intricate developmental process. It is hard to appreciate this process too unless you stand back and take a panoramic view.
Do You Make this Mistake in Teaching Penmanship?
Handwriting, not to be confused with composition are two different skills that are often talked about as if they are one. They are not.
As your child grows older, handwriting could be a tool that either burdens or beautifies a budding writer’s creative process.
Composing thoughts becomes a life-long skill, but there is a very small window of time for you to seize the opportunity to teach him how to write. Eventually, a writer uses both the physical act of pushing a pen and the mental act of arranging thoughts in a well-laid out system. In the earliest of stages, it’s all about the physical act.
Then there is much information floating around about whether we should teach our kids print first, cursive first or if we even need to teach handwriting. How to approach a very basic but important skill almost seems like a guessing game when teaching it. In this series, I will be sharing tidbits about those topics so you can make an informed decision of how you are going to teach handwriting.
Don’t “Fix” What Children Like to Do Naturally
What I have learned in teaching my sons and helping many other new homeschoolers along the way is that we need to trust the natural bent our children have to pick up a tool, and yes to even use their fingers to scribble.
I have never forgotten what I read by John Holt. It resounded with me as I have had what seemed like major highs where I could accomplish any task after teaching my first son his letters and having tears pour down my cheeks too when I felt defeated.
John Holt said, “The infants at home were bold adventurers.
It soon became clear to me that children are by nature and from birth very curious about the world around them, and very energetic, resourceful, and competent in exploring it, finding out about it, and mastering. In short, much more eager to learn, and much better at learning, than most adults.
Babies are not blobs, but true scientists.”
Understand first that your child has a craving to communicate through scribbles. Unless there is a developmental delay, your job will be to guide him to the next stage.
Don’t make this harder than it has to be. Like childbirth and I’m going there today, you simply assisted your body, so to speak, at the time of delivery. No amount of worrying was going to speed up the process as if you were in control of it. Of course complications and delays are quite different, but again I want you to know that you just need to be prepared.
When it comes to penmanship, your children will present signs of being ready.
Will you be ready?
Coming up in some other posts, I will be sharing some signs and signals of writing readiness by your children, ways for you to plan (and not worry) about the penmanship process, pre-writing activities, and other ways to gently guide your pre-writer through this process.
Here are the other posts in this series to see how the process unfolds:
- Teaching Handwriting When Homeschooling the Early Years Part 2
- Teaching Handwriting When Homeschooling the Early Years Part 3
Hugs and love ya,