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  1. #1

    Default How much did you focus on Phonics and Handwriting?

    My twins are 6 and we kind of dropped out of online Kindergarten. We were given K12 for phonics and HWOT - which we all hated. After we quit the rest of the formal lessons in March, I continued reading aloud to them each day, which we all love.

    From reading a few posts it seems that some of you skipped formal phonics and handwriting - but I sense some of that is because your children were gifted and taught themselves to read at a young age. I'm hesitant to start a formal program since we are in the re-learning to love learning phase right now.

    DD would likely enjoy handwriting "lessons", she loves art and pretends to make lists and takes our orders at dinner and tries to write. DS is resistant to trying anything that he can't do well - including coloring, art and writing.

    How do you decide when to start teaching handwriting and phonics? Or do you let things happen "organically"?

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    Every one of my kids was different when it came to how much focus we put on learning to read and write but one thing was the same, they all learned both skills when THEY were ready. No amount of curriculum or time spent teaching made them learn any faster.

    You children sound like very typical children, girls tend to enjoy things that are precursors to handwriting where boys do not. There are always exceptions, my 4yo boy loves to color and likes to stay in the lines more than any 4yo I've seen, but he is the exception, not the rule. My older boys hated coloring for the most part.

    At 6yo, I would begin teaching any child, gifted, average or developmentally delayed, the basics of handwriting. Your daughter might enjoy handwriting pages that teach her how to form the letters she pretends to write correctly. Your son might enjoy learning to draw letters in the air or in a salt box or with sidewalk chalk. Don't limit learning to write to putting strokes on paper. There are many activities that teach handwriting skills that do not require any pencils or paper.

    I would also consider 6yo the age to start learning to read if we haven't already. Before age 6, I would only do it if the child showed an interest but if they are 6 or older, it's time to start some short lessons, like it or not. Now, that is not to say I force them to sit at the table and drudge through a lesson everyday. Lessons can be fun and informal and be just as effective.

    If they do not yet know their letter sounds, we play games that teach letter sounds. If they know their letter sounds, we play games that teach blending those sounds into words or games that break words down into their individual sounds. If they can already read some words, we can tandem read where I read some of the words and they read some of the words. When I pause to let them read, I try to make it a mix of words I know they can read and some new words that I know they have the skills to decode. If they start to get frustrated, I help them and we move on. I also make "mistakes" sometimes and let them correct me. It really helps for them to see how I handle making a mistake, especially those kids who are either perfectionists or are resistant to correction. Modeling good coping skills when mistakes are made and letting them see that everyone makes mistakes as part of the learning process can be helpful for children to see.

  4. #3


    We came to homeschooling because our daughter was slow to read and our private school considered that to be "normal". She has ADD so we knew that sometimes, other learning difficulties are masked by attention deficit, so we started homeshooling and doing intense reading therapies etc. This was during the summer between 2nd-3rd grades, so DD was 8 at the time. The reading tutor used a modified Orton-Gillingham program.

    We used, and I recommend, the Logic of English program. It's phonics-based, and really helped the kiddo learn to hear and recognize the difference between various same-ish sounding phonemes. We did the Foundations program and the workbook had her write things in cursive. It might have been better to start with it immediately but she did it at the beginning of 4th grade. Essentials is their early elementary program.

    I had read Denise Eide's Uncovering the Logic of English and it helped me realize that there's literacy, and there's sub-literacy. A surprising number of American adults are sub-literate. It affects everything in your life if you can't read well. (Okay, maybe it's not hurt the guy temporarily in the White House, being sub-literate, but he's an outlier.) Anyway, it is a huge problem, and I of course did not want my kid to be a statistic, so she's home for school. And she's doing fine, great even, thanks in no small part to my freaking out about it all.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  5. #4


    Until youre ready to re start formal phonics, reading to them is a great idea. If youre antsy, the stages as MapleHill describes are pretty organic and can happen alongside reading to them.

    For writing, the fine motor skills necessary are commonly more advanced in little girls than in little boys. Your daughter may be ready for pencil grip and writing letters on paper while your son is still at the index finger drawing stage. It will take work and time to build up his hand strength, stamina, and dexterity to be where writing is as comfortable for him as his sister. Unless he wants to play dress up and fashion designer for his sisters barbies, or take up crochet or natting, you may need to brainstorm enjoyable ways to develop it. (Or google search for OT Fine Motor Skills Hand Strength Dexterity etc.) My older son was a big lego fanatic, but it really didnt help him much.
    Good luck!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    Thank you!

    I had already decided to use LoE in cursive and have been watching all of Denise Eide's video trainings. I'm antsy to start but am holding back because I think they need some time to get used to the idea that school is fun again. Our online program became so much about checking off the boxes that they hated everything that looked like school including Handwriting Without Tears. They already know their letters and letter sounds, digraphs and trigraphs and the kindergarten sight words.

    I just recently read so many posts about kids that spontaneously taught themselves to read that I had to wonder if I was pushing too much, too early. They certainly seem capable, even if they didn't love it.

    And thanks MapleHill - that is exactly what we are doing. I've been reading aloud and having them sound out some of the simpler parts, and when DD wants to write something I help her sound it out. Also thanks for the suggestions Alexsmom - I will work on finding some fine motor exercises for DS and start with some chalk and sand to ease DS into handwriting that doesn't feel so permanent as he develops skills.

  7. #6


    Also, your perfectionist might prefer writing on a white board. I saw an app today called Handwriting Heroes. I didn't get it, but thought it looked interesting.

  8. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by FarmMom View Post

    I just recently read so many posts about kids that spontaneously taught themselves to read that I had to wonder if I was pushing too much, too early. They certainly seem capable, even if they didn't love it.
    Out of my six kids, only two spontaneously taught themselves to read. And to be completely honest, I wouldn't call it spontaneous, they just needed less direct instruction than most kids. My second oldest son started reading on his own at 4 but had overheard many many lessons from his older brother who did need a ton of direct instruction for reading to finally click for him. My older daughter, who was 6-7 years old when her younger sister was a toddler, loved playing school and trying to teach her younger sister everything she was learning. Her younger sister could read at the age of three, partly because she's a really bright child in general and partly because of all that playing school with her sister.

    But none of my other kids, despite having the same exposure and access to books and being read to learned to read without at least a year or two (or more in the case of my oldest son) of direct, focused instruction. Just learning to read with little to no instruction is not the norm for most people.

  9. #8


    I was going to suggest LOgic of English- my twins had went to Kindy, but we HSed first grade and I started w/ LOE B. They loved playing the games, and with 2 kids the exact same age/level, you can do a lot of games that reinforce the lessons. There were days that they reminded me we didn't do reading... yes, we did! We played Dragon! Remember???? (a confused look and then) "That was school?" Yes, that was school. For handwriting, I would push other fine-motor skill building activities for your son. Play doh, legos, lacing boards or beads, scissors. He can write on white boards (I find this helps the few of mine who had issues with writing), trace, dot-to-dot, mazes, ect. Anything that gets a pencil into his hand and writing on the paper is a win! He may prfer tracing to writing his own letters, and that's fine, too. For the one who likes to make lists, you can write out a short list of words for her to copy each day in her own special notebook.
    Mom to 5 great kids~

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    Quote Originally Posted by MapleHillAcademy View Post
    Every one of my kids was different when it came to how much focus we put on learning to read and write but one thing was the same, they all learned both skills when THEY were ready. No amount of curriculum or time spent teaching made them learn any faster.
    Absolutely, 100% was true for mine as well. Oldest read at age 3 and basically taught himself. Very little instruction ever needed. Youngest had dyslexia and didn't really read well until he was eight or nine after multiple years of trying multiple programs. They each read when their brains said they were ready...I'd like to say I had contributed to the process, but if I did, it was only by always being a voracious reader myself and doing a lot of reading aloud so that "to read" was always something worth striving for.

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How much did you focus on Phonics and Handwriting?