I feel like I haven’t written about homeschooling for ages. I was going to do an update in September as it marked the start of our 3rd year but I didn’t get around to it in the end, story of my life! I will actually get around to doing a proper update at some point but for now I wanted to focus on handwriting. Or more specifically how we are dealing with handwriting practice because not only are we doing things pretty differently to the way they do in school but we will also be doing things differently from other homeschooling families. This is just down to the fact that not all homeschooling families do so in the same way, some replicate a school environment, some are loosely structured and some are completely unstructured.
We are unstructured when it comes to education, the kids are completely in charge of deciding what they learn, and when. They are also in charge of their time and how they use it so we don’t have any set learning times or conditions on them doing certain things before being allowed to do others, for instance they don’t have to do a worksheet before going on the iPad etc. This is just what works for us best, it’s not to say I have never tried to do things in a different way but I decided quite early on that I didn’t want there to be a difference between fun and learning so by me saying that writing practice had to be done before watching the iPad made the iPad seem more appealing and the writing practice seem like work, and generally anything that becomes work isn’t much fun!
So I completely stood back and left the kids to play, and play and play. I just kept in mind that in a lot of countries in Europe kids don’t start any formal education until the age of 7 and that they would start learning when they were ready. Then about six months ago Cherry suddenly developed a real interest in learning to write followed by an interest to read a few months later. I will write more about this in another post because I found the whole process fascinating, the way she just learnt everything without any real input from me.
So now at the age of 7 she is writing and able to read, I should point out she isn’t at the same level as her peers in school, she still needs help spelling a lot of words when she is writing and her reading is still in the early stages but the process of doing it has clicked, she is able to sound out the words and work out what they say. Something we had tried on occasion over the last couple of years and she wasn’t able to do at all. I’m sure had she been in school she would have got there but it makes me sad to think at what cost, she would have found it frustrating and upsetting plus it would have been such hard work doing it before her brain was ready.
Most of Cherry’s writing practice is still done when playing, she writes lists for her games or makes cards for her friends although we did buy some workbooks recently because I felt like she might enjoy them. I just leave them out for her to do when she feels like it and most days she wants to, not for long though. She only manages about 10-15 mins before she loses focus, again a real sign that she wouldn’t cope well in school!
Uniball recently contacted me about some worksheets that they had available on their website to help kids with their handwriting practice so I asked the kids if they wanted to give them a go. Tiger isn’t ready at all and gets really frustrated when he tries and isn’t able to so he just did one of the pre-writing practice sheets.
Cherry wanted one of the plain sheets so she could write about her favourite food, garlic bread apparently!
As well as the worksheets they also have lots of advice on improving handwriting and how to teach cursive handwriting. For us these aren’t necessary but obviously if the kids were in school and needed to be at a certain level then they would be really helpful.
I guess another way we are doing things differently is that I let Cherry write exactly how she wants to, this means she puts capital letters in the middle of words and makes the letters different sizes. I have explained to her where capital letters are used but she just said she knows that and likes putting them where she wants to and who am I to argue?!
I’m also not too sure what we will do about cursive handwriting, I personally feel like it’s a bit pointless and I really don’t like how it looks. It’s not something I’ve ever used myself and can’t remember being taught it, if I was then it definitely wasn’t something I ever used. From what I’ve heard the idea of it is to write quicker? I will have to do some research into whether or not it’s a skill that will be essential at some point in later life but I am a bit of a rebel and someone saying that everyone has to write a certain way annoys the hell out of me!! It’s why I love letting Cherry express herself through her own way of writing, at the end of the day if she needs to know how to do it at some point then she can always learn. Obviously if she wants to learn how to do it then I will teach her but if she isn’t bothered then I can’t see the point in teaching her a whole different way to write when she has a perfectly good way already.
Uniball have some great resources so it’s definitely worth checking them out, you can find the worksheets here, the post on teaching cursive here, the tips on improving handwriting here and read about the different stages of handwriting here.
Thanks to Uniball for working with us on this post.