Thursday, February 12, 2009


I learned from teaching Night Owl that Handwriting just doesn't come naturally for boys, at least not these boys! I actually tried 3 or maybe 4 different programs for him until I found one called Handwriting Without Tears. By that time he was into cursive and this program has a font that is actually do-able, even for a 6th grade boy who hated writing.

When it was time to start Jetter on a program I didn't think twice. Handwriting Without Tears was not only do-able for Night Owl, but it is working well for Jetter. It was actually designed for kids who struggle with Dyslexia or Dysgraphia so it has really been beneficial. I've started Builder on it this year as well, even though he doesn't seem to have the same struggles as Jetter.
Here are some of the components of the program These are actually the ones I use with Builder. Jetter used them in Kindergarten and 1st grade. There are letter cards, a small slate, a blue mat and wood pieces. They use the letter cards to learn how to build the letter with the wood pieces and then build the letter by themselves on the blue mat. We then do an activity with the slate called "wet-dry-try". I use the chalk to make the letter on the slate. Builder then takes a small piece of wet sponge, and following my exact strokes, goes over the letter, erasing it and leaving a wet mark in the shape of the letter. Then he uses a dry cloth to dry the wet marks, once again in the exact strokes. Finally, he uses the chalk to form the letter himself. All these activities help to solidify in his mind the form of the letter and what needs to be done to make it. I add to it by having him repeat the sound of the letter while he is writing it. This helps add a bit of phonics to the exercise. The last step is the work in the workbooks which Jetter is doing below:

It is not necessary to go through all the steps with Jetter anymore. He knows how to form the letters but he needs lots of practice. One very simple but helpful thing about this program is that every component has a small smiley face in the top left hand corner. This helps orient kids like Jetter to where the letters are supposed to start. This helps him avoid the reversals that he struggles with. Besides the workbook, Jetter does have a larger, lined slate that he uses for practice. When he starts cursive next year, we will use that slate alot, using the "wet-dry-try" activity to help him form the letters and connections. I think he will do okay with cursive, he may even find it easier than printing. Some theorize that children with dyslexia, or symptoms of dyslexia, should actually be taught cursive first - there is less chance of writing the letters backwards. My problem with that is what about reading? Most books are printed, not cursive. I try to tie reading and writing together so they learn and practice both at the same time. If Jetter did not know how to print the letters, I think it would be a bit confusing ... but then, I'm no expert.

Social Butterfly is a totally different kid. She LOVES to write. This year she is using a new program for our homeschool called "Italics". I think the font is a bit challenging but she likes the way it looks and practices happily. I tried to take a picture of it below but it's a bit blurry. Like I said she practices happily and I'm sure she'll have beautiful handwriting some day. She is also learning to type and doing quite well with that too. I think playing the piano has helped her coordination.

No comments: