Sunday, March 4, 2012

Willow's New and Improved Handwriting

Handwriting practice has been added so seamlessly to the Daily Schoolwork List (which does not get completed anywhere close to "daily," but more on that another time), that it's really a pleasure to watch the girls consistently working on it. I like to think that the kiddos take pleasure, too, in handwriting that has so steadily and vastly improved that it has to be as obvious to them as it is to me.

A dear friend, whose homeschooled son has beautiful handwriting, suggested that I show Willow examples of all the different styles of handwriting and ask her to select which she'd like to learn--it gives her ownership over the process, and allows her to learn a style that she'll find lovely. Willow's choice: the Palmer Method. It makes me crack up, because I feel like a 1950s kindergarten teacher, but Palmer handwriting really is nice.

I purchased, using my monthly homeschool budget that I fund through my paid writing and my etsy sales, Startwrite 6.0 so that I could create handwriting copywork that was consistent in method and relevant to the girls' other studies. Although the user interface is a little wonky and non-intuitive, it does have everything that you'd ever need to customize a handwriting sheet. Because Willow has formerly shown no attention to the details of letter formation or placement, and doesn't always form each letter the most efficient way, we go whole hog on her sheets--lined pages, an outline of each letter to help her stay within normal parameters, dots along each letter's path that she can aim for, arrows and numbers to remind her where and when her pencil needs to go, and a free space after each word so that she can practice:
 Syd's handwriting is pretty great, although she still likes to play fast and loose with placement on the line, and she prefers her handwriting pages with just the outline:
Even beyond the ability to customize the same page for each child, I'm loving the ability to write handwriting sheets that are relevant to what the kiddos are actually doing each day. Here, Will is writing the definition of Anastasia's Mate, a good endgame trap that she learned in chess:

And here she's writing the ingredients list for the rainbow play dough that we sell in our pumpkinbear etsy shop, to include with the order that we ship to the customer:

We've also done the names of the presidents in order (which Will is in the process of memorizing), geography labels that get cut out and pasted onto big maps that they're making (Africa, currently), short letters to the grandmas, and reading/spelling words. I like stuff that can work double-duty!

With the model, and the lines, and the arrows, and the dots, Will has a better method for completing her handwriting systematically, and although Syd finds all that information overwhelming (which is why she does without it), I think it all helps to remind Willow to slow down and write methodically. I never thought to videotape the slapdash method that she used to use to crank out her former illegible handwriting, but it's vastly different from how she works now:

Along with coloring pages and drawing lessons to practice fine motor skills in general (not to mention lots of play with power tools and taking stuff apart with screwdrivers, etc.), regular copywork practice is really, obviously working.


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