Going Old School (homeschooling)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Originally posted here

While plenty of areas in up to 45 states are doing away with teaching script, my kids are stuck with that as part of their instruction.  I'm pro-cursive for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I want my children to be able to read old documents, like the Declaration of Independence, without having to rely on someone else's translation of it.  Yes, I realize that, with technology what it is, there is a fair chance that my children will need cursive about as much as I need that Trig and Calculus course I had to take in high school, but you know what?  Sometimes I need to pull on that info for random things; it's not often, but it happens.  Just like I'm appalled by some of the spelling (and I'm a crappy speller!) and grammar often used by kids and teens in their formal papers, and reading job cover letters has made me shake my head at times, I think that unschooling doesn't mean uneducating.  My kids love to write and cursive is one of the ways that, in penmanship, you can express yourself.  When I look back at journals and writings, I can tell what I was feeling not just by the words, but by how I wrote them.  Careful manuscript?  It was a lazy day where I could take the time to form letters.  Easy script?  I was full of emotion but able to think about what I was writing.  Barely legible?  The cursive came out in the fits of anger or sadness, much like the words rolling out of my head.  At handwriting's core is self expression; it's one of the reasons I think we've tried (unsuccessfully) to standardize it and make children write a certain way.  Just as we want them to behave a certain way in schools, we also want to make sure they write a certain way.  I'm not saying this is awful, but it is another way to limit expression.

When I was in school, we learned cursive in 3rd grade; we had to write a specific way until 5th grade, when we were allowed to be more creative with our script.  By the time I hit middle school, in 7th grade, as long as it was legible, no one cared.  High school brought with it a similar approach, but in 9th grade and above, we had to pull out the trusty typewriter for actual essays and papers.  There were 2 computers in the school library you could type on if you didn't have a typewriter, and I remember having a living room of friends typing out papers on our home computer (my parents had upgraded their work computer and we got the old IBM compatible one for home use).  These days, Peter and I both have laptops, we have a desktop that he has to set up for the kids so that they will give me back my laptop!, and each child (Michael included) has a tablet for educational software.  They do get fun time, where they can watch YouTube kids, PBS shows, or some of our sign language videos on their tablet, but we've been fortunate enough that Peter sorts through and loads on games for math, science, handwriting, music, and a bevy of other things, and all the kids make good use of his hard work.  It's not the way I would learn, but as I hear Maya banging out a melody on a "piano" or watch Bobby write words that are far beyond what a five year old is spelling or even watch Michael learning how to write manuscript, I'm amazed at how much technology has made a positive impact.  (Not to mention, Maya loves to keep up with meteorology and Bobby is fascinated with his online planetarium.)

But, back to cursive.  Bobby has always favored handwriting more than Maya, and he loves to practice.  I found these great, 8"x11" laminated per letter sheets that he uses a dry eraser on to practice. 


When he was finished with all 26, he went to our kitchen whiteboard and wrote the alphabet in manuscript before asking me to write cursive with him.  I would write a letter up top, then he would mimic me below.  It was so neat to see how engaged he was with this!


Michael worked a bit on math; we use Schiller Montesorri Math, and he's working on the geometry at the beginning, which is association of shapes with movement.  He also has to assign the correct color.  His coloring is cute.  He is also learning the ASL to one of the songs we do in our Music and Religion work.  The twins had learned this last year, although they enjoy it still.  Watching him learn and sing... Adorable.



Maya's BFF is visiting today and during their outside play, they were scientists who found a bird feather.  We had the fun of looking at the different birds common around here and figuring out that the blue, white, and gray feather is most likely a blue jay's.  We also talked about why feathers come out, etc, and of course, good hygiene after touching bird feathers!


It's so neat to watch how they learn and what inspires them.  I hope that, as they get older, they'll continue to teach me, too.  It's quite the education thus far!

8 comments:

aryanhwy said...

As a university teacher who has to grade hundreds of hand-written exam scripts at the end of the year, I totally support the teaching of legible handwriting! Bad handwriting can mek me spend twice as long deciphering your essays, and this will put me in a bad mood, and you don't want your grader to be grumpy!

sunflowerchilde said...

I would love to hear about what educational apps you've found for your kids. My kids are getting more addicted to screen time (also against my better judgment and because my husband is in favor), and I'd really like some better programs for them to use.

Michele said...

I'll grab Maya's tablet when it charges and make a list to post!

schnitzelbank said...

I'm glad you enjoy cursive, but there's very little about it that's developmentally appropriate for a child of this age. They're getting fine motor skills practice, and I can think of 100 better ways to practice find motor skills than this. Seriously, it's posts like these that make me a supporter of compulsory schooling.

Michele said...

I guess my kids are lucky then that we do child led learning at this point rather than the teach to the middle approach that many schools do. Bobby is autistic and it is hard to get him to find things that calm him enough to focus on school like tasks. Handwriting does that for him. He enjoys both manuscript and now is enjoying learning cursive. While I could really care less whether he sticks to one or the other, my goal is to facilitate his love of learning. In handwriting, this is accomplished and it carries over into his other studies as well. I don't know how familiar you are with Maria Montessori but to paraphrase, "the goal of early childhood education is to facilitate a love of learning." It isn't to teach them how to be student drones or to force them to learn something they aren't ready for or able to do. Maya doesn't seem to care so much for cursive, so she isn't doing it. Rather, she loves multiplication and early division, so we are working with that. Bobby loves his different types of writing and is still working with addition and subtraction. There's nothing wrong with that, and both children are enjoying learning. To keep them from tasks that are developmentally appropriate for their unique brains would be like forcing a child who isn't biologically ready to potty train: pointless.

Michele said...

I guess my kids are lucky then that we do child led learning at this point rather than the teach to the middle approach that many schools do. Bobby is autistic and it is hard to get him to find things that calm him enough to focus on school like tasks. Handwriting does that for him. He enjoys both manuscript and now is enjoying learning cursive. While I could really care less whether he sticks to one or the other, my goal is to facilitate his love of learning. In handwriting, this is accomplished and it carries over into his other studies as well. I don't know how familiar you are with Maria Montessori but to paraphrase, "the goal of early childhood education is to facilitate a love of learning." It isn't to teach them how to be student drones or to force them to learn something they aren't ready for or able to do. Maya doesn't seem to care so much for cursive, so she isn't doing it. Rather, she loves multiplication and early division, so we are working with that. Bobby loves his different types of writing and is still working with addition and subtraction. There's nothing wrong with that, and both children are enjoying learning. To keep them from tasks that are developmentally appropriate for their unique brains would be like forcing a child who isn't biologically ready to potty train: pointless.

Michele said...

I guess my kids are lucky then that we do child led learning at this point rather than the teach to the middle approach that many schools do. Bobby is autistic and it is hard to get him to find things that calm him enough to focus on school like tasks. Handwriting does that for him. He enjoys both manuscript and now is enjoying learning cursive. While I could really care less whether he sticks to one or the other, my goal is to facilitate his love of learning. In handwriting, this is accomplished and it carries over into his other studies as well. I don't know how familiar you are with Maria Montessori but to paraphrase, "the goal of early childhood education is to facilitate a love of learning." It isn't to teach them how to be student drones or to force them to learn something they aren't ready for or able to do. Maya doesn't seem to care so much for cursive, so she isn't doing it. Rather, she loves multiplication and early division, so we are working with that. Bobby loves his different types of writing and is still working with addition and subtraction. There's nothing wrong with that, and both children are enjoying learning. To keep them from tasks that are developmentally appropriate for their unique brains would be like forcing a child who isn't biologically ready to potty train: pointless.

Stace said...

Maybe it's not part of "compulsory schooling" at this age, but I can tell you as a Kindergarten teacher in a public school, kiddos at this age are obsessed with cursive! My mid-year almost all of the kiddos are always trying to "write in cursive" (some are a little closer than others) because it's "grown up" and they enjoy the challenge. So, why not? :)