Thursday, April 05, 2007

Penmanship -- who cares?

One recent type of assignment for my grandchild in fifth grade is to write his spelling/vocabulary assignments and quizzes in cursive rather than manuscript (printing). That’s an assignment that just blew him away at first, poor baby. I hadn’t realized that no one had ever taught him how to make the letters correctly, much less how to connect them smoothly. His major problem has been connecting letters that end high (such as the cursive o or v) with letters that begin on the line (such as the cursive s or r). He really struggled. Of course, I wrote words out for him and showed him how to make the letters and the connections, but for a child who has spent the past 4½ years printing, it’s been difficult. I went to the D’Nealian website and printed out a sample page. That helped greatly with the lower-case letters, showing the progression from manuscript to cursive. But the upper-case letters aren’t available on that particular website, so we practiced writing those ourselves. All the upper and lower case letters and printable practice sheets are available here and here.

My grandchild in first grade is being taught D’Nealian manuscript (printing). I don’t know if that’s a conscious choice on the teacher’s part, but I’m very happy about it. She will have a much easier time transitioning to cursive than her brother is.

Who cares what children are taught in school? We all should. Obviously, just about all these children have and will continue to have access to computers, but throughout their school years, the legibility of their handwriting (manuscript or cursive) will matter. What my grandson needs to understand is that, if his teachers cannot read what he’s writing (or printing), they won't know what he really knows. In other words, if they can’t read it, it’ll be marked wrong.

To me, writing (cursive, that is) is much faster than printing. I know that to other people printing is all they’ve done, so it’s become quite fast. Others employ a mix of printing and writing, and for the most part it’s legible and fast. Still others have such poor results – printing or writing! – that about all we can do is hope they have access to computers for everything except signatures!

No comments: