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  1. #1

    Default Forming letters the wrong way

    My four year old has started printing. It generally only happens when I do not suggest it or try to make an activity out of it. It happens when my l.o. decides to add letters to a drawing, or wants to write a note to someone. I am called over to say how words are spelled. Letter tracing/practice worksheets have not been received with enthusiasm so far.

    I think it's great to see my kid taking such initiative, but I am not sure what to do about the fact that neither of us apparently forms letters the official "right" way. It was only through a letter practice worksheet (the kind my kid hates) that I learned that M's were supposed to be constructed by making the two vertical lines first, and then bringing diagonal lines down to the middle, starting at the top of each vertical line. I had just been going up vertically, down diagonally, up diagonally, and then down vertically. This is just one of many examples, and of course, as a beginning printer, my four year old is even more likely to construct letters in bizarre ways than I am, concerned only with the final result being somewhat legible. (I hasten to add that I am actually considered a pretty good printer and an excellent cursive writer, despite my methods. I thought this was one of my strong points!)

    Should I be intervening more (after re-teaching myself, of course)? Am I allowing bad habits to become ingrained? How set in stone are these "right" ways to print?

    For bonus points, can anyone suggest a letter workbook that kids don't hate?
    Last edited by MelissaPA; 08-19-2016 at 09:17 AM.

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  3. #2

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    There is a "right way to print"? That way to write M sounds weird. And not something I have ever seen anyone do. I'm probably not much help as I am mostly going for "legible" as I can't remember the last time I actually wrote something down that wasn't on a moving box. :-)

  4. #3

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    The goal of handwriting is to be able to communicate ideas. If you can tell it is an M, I dont know that it matters much how you make the M.

  5. #4

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    Handwriting Without Tears is what our OT uses, and what older DS went through. There are even letter-formimg apps that use HWT style.
    Id encourage proper grip before worrying about letter formation.
    And I remember our facilitator saying that it was perfectly fine for the letters themselves to be occassionally backwards. Not just incorrect stroke order - when he was in K.

    Id stick with "Wow, you wrote Mom! that makes me feel so happy! Can we put it on the fridge to show Dad when he gets home?" You want to encourage his self-expression, not tell him he is doing it wrong.

    Thats just my opinion. Im full of them tonight.

    ETA: I never heard of that kooky way to make Ms.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived ejsmom's Avatar
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    We used Handwriting Without Tears, as well, and also due to OT recommendation for fine motor issues. I'm not sure if writing letters "the right way" matters. It did for my kid, because he had serious issues with holding a pencil and moving his hand and arm properly, among many other things. He needed an "only one way" to do it so he could repeat it over and over and replicate it. But for a typical regular kid? I don't think I'd worry about that. If only 4 years old, I really wouldn't bother with handwriting worksheets, either. I probably am out of the loop on how preK things are approached anymore, but that seems quite young for formal handwriting instruction, to me. Sidewalk chalk, or making letters in wet sand - something fun. That I can see. HWT does offer some of those ideas, if you want some guidance in handwriting instruction.

    Just remember, you yourself are proof that you can write your letters in the "wrong" way and still write legibly and beautifully! Maybe your way will be best for your child. And that's pretty cool.
    homeschooling one DS, age 13.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    There are a lot of different writing methods. The school I worked at had teachers that used d'nealian and others with stick-ball method - that's probably what you're looking at. I learned something closer to Handwriting Without Tears. Lots of the letters start with sticks, but there's less picking up your pencil.

    DS5 also has a lot of motor challenges, and his OT uses Handwriting Without Tears, too. She suggested working on it at home because whatever they practice regularly is what sticks, and it's harder to change later. HWT is super expensive, so we modified the program quite a bit. We do the kindergarten lessons, but there is also a pre-k book with prewriting skills - although if she is interested in writing now You could easily jump right into K.

    Here's how we are doing it. I'm so excited, this is the first time I've ever linked my blog, lolol. DS5 was very reluctant so I've had to be... creative. Ha. He's coming along. I've seen a lot of improvement on grip in the last few weeks, and the few letters we've gotten through - he's got those down pat.

    ETA: I have a pic of the HWT workbook on there. It's really simple, and basically looks like that for every letter, so you'll need more practice. I print out extra pages for dry erase, but the rest of our pencil-to-paper writing practice is drawing/writing in a journal or writing on a project of some sort.
    Last edited by TFZ; 08-19-2016 at 08:45 AM.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at TheHomeschoolResourceRoom.com.

  8. #7

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    Wow TFZ! That's really cool and informative about HWT! And in non-glitzy format. I like the realism!

    You can also, if ywant to focus on letter formation and not be concerned with grip, you can finger draw them in shaving cream (our OT's favorite), or on a baking tray of rice or flour. Or in a sandbox.
    HWT also has a Wet-Dry-Erase app.
    DS's favorite lettor making app is LetterQuiz (also OT recommended). We have a stylus that DS can use, but on his own, he just plays the games with his finger tip.

    I read somewhere, once upon a time, that the ball and stick method produces a lot more reversals (b instead of d, q instead of g, etc). And nobody really makes letters the ball-and-stick way IRL.
    Ive drunk the HWT koolaid. But a lot of the cheapie workbooks at Target, etc, use the ball-and-stick way for their "alphabet practice" pages.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Arrived ejsmom's Avatar
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    TFZ, love the blog! I love the letter exercises. You are adorable and appear far too young to have kids old enough to homeschool. We purchased the workbook, slate, and teacher guide and that worked just fine for us, too. I did purchase their paper, eventually, as it is different than most. As we moved onto words and then sentences, I would then use highlighter pen to move write the weekly letters, then a few words, then a short sentence onto the paper and DS could trace them.

    I think you are doing a fantastic job with handwriting and his OT ought to be thrilled with you!
    homeschooling one DS, age 13.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    Aw thanks! Am and ejsmom you guys both helped me decide to go ahead with this. Seriously after I posted this morning I was getting so annoyed with DS taking forever to write his name and not doing his cut and paste. I finally went in the kitchen and said WOW so loud - poor kid I'm going to give him a heart attack one day. Today was the first time that he wrote his whole name, unprompted, and it was clear and all on the line. Omg I'm so excited. Started screaming for DH to look, the whole thing. Lol

    And I'm turning 36 in October, ugh.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at TheHomeschoolResourceRoom.com.

  11. #10

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    These replies are helpful, especially those that confirm that the "proper" letter M is not often constructed as on that worksheet.

    I enjoyed TFZ's blog. If only I had a kid who liked ideas suggested by others, I would try several of those. My suggestion of using play dough to make letters instead of gnome costumes has been met with anger in the past. The body letter exercises might - MIGHT - go over, and look fun, so I am going to try them even if it ends up as just me!

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Forming letters the wrong way