Handwriting Looks Like...

Sometimes we get wrapped up in what homeschool should look like.  We want to keep up with the Jones’ (public school) in a sense.  But one of the many reasons I choose to homeschool my children is because I want to do better.  Please do not think I am knocking public school teachers – the system is flawed and it forces teachers to do things they know are not developmentally appropriate.  Also, SOME kids are ready at early ages.  But just because some can, doesn’t mean all should.  If you look at how I homeschool my children then you will see the parts of public school that I liked and the parts I knew could be improved.  

My eldest daughter struggles with fine motor skills.  If she was in public school I know this would be a forever struggle.  But since I am in charge of her activities and learning, I am able to add in more play and practice before she ever has to put pencil to paper.  Here are some of the activities that we do in homeschool and everyday life that might not seem like ‘handwriting practice’ but are absolutely preparing her for handwriting.

I stuck some spaghetti noodles in some playdough and added cereal…and just like that we had some fine motor practice that kept them entertained and focused.  Even little brother wanted in on the action.  

This x-ray image is what I ran across as I was researching ways to help London because I knew her fine motor skills needed some extra practice.  That’s when I realized I could let go of my expectations from public school and focus on what I knew was best practice.  Lots of this looks like play and fun – it’s almost like kids learn through play!  So we can practice forming letters correctly with large shapes even though I’m not asking her to write them yet.  This plastic set is from Learning Resources – Letter Construction.  We borrowed it from a friend and it goes well with Handwriting Without Tears philosophy.  I now have those wooden shapes for the kids to use.  Simple activities like lining up small pieces on different lines, tearing small pieces of paper,  coloring, and manipulating snap cubes are all great practice.

Another activity that I had planned for Bear, but the girls ended up loving, was balancing marbles on golf tees.  And who am I to say no to them getting in on the learning fun?  Using funnels and measuring cups during water play was another activity that I didn’t think much of until I noticed how much learning was going into actually balancing those items and making sure the water went in to the smaller containers.  

Of course kneading dough during our Little Red Hen unit and any time the girls use stickers are easy ways to build those little hand muscles.  I never realized how much of a struggle stickers could be until I had my own children who had never used them before.  Talk about a learning curve for me!  But it was fun to watch how much they grew in their ability.  

Annnnnnnnnnd sometimes handwriting does look like handwriting.  We use sandpaper letters, tracing boards, rice, sidewalk chalk, and other fun activities to help learn correct letter formation.  I just used some construction paper with ‘windows’ cut out of the letters I wanted them practicing at the time.  You can see we were working on all straight line letters during this time.  I love the Maria Montessori quote in the picture – we can learn so much as we watch them learn.

Even activities like decorating gingerbread houses provide a change to practice fine motor skills.  And are you even a homeschool mom if you haven’t had your kid shuck corn and pull out corn kernels or add 8,493 lids to the milk jug igloo?!?!?!?  But seriously, you will be amazed at how often you are practicing ‘handwriting’ with your children throughout your year.

Have you tried putting those Cootie Bug pieces on lately?  It takes some fine motor coordination!  A good game of Hi Ho Cherry Oh is another chance to practice those skills.  And do you see that open mouth in the last pic?  It’s a sure sign that she is concentrating – after we read a book where the child and grandfather stack all the blocks up and then sneeze to make it tumble, we just had to try it ourselves.  And for this girl, that was some good practice.  As I look back over her pictures from pre-k and kindergarten, I realize just how far she has come in her fine motor abilities.  

I hope you find as much joy and you watch your children learn over the years.