lousy penmanship

taz4uMarch 12, 2002

I have a son in the second grade who just turned 7 in January. He is an excellent reader and maintains A's & B's in every subject with the exception of penmanship. He has been denied being on the honor role twice this school year because of his C- in penmanship. It isn't that he doesn't try, he just has lousy writing, both printing and cursive. My wife and I both spend a lot of time helping him practice. I seem to think that most of his problem is his small muscle coordination. The biggest reason for this post is to plead for some assistance. His Teacher acts as though his penmanship is more important then any other subject. I tend to disagree (I have been known to be wrong) and feel that it will progress as he matures. I also can not understand why he continues to get 100% on every oral spelling test, but yet when given the same written test most words are marked wrong because of the penmanship, even though the words are still legible and correctly spelled.(which I'm hoping I have done) I would, sincerely appreciate any and all advice, direction, guidance, etc.

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Using sissors is one good way to help increase the muscle strength in the hand. That is one reason kids are made to cut out this and that and the other thing in the early years. You can also get him to do coloring books or mazes to help him with his co-ordination.

Of course, getting him to write and write and write will help the most probably. Try to figure out what kind of writing he might enjoy doing. Maybe letters to Grandma, maybe writing a book that you then take down to a copy shop to have bound, maybe making up dinner menus for everyone, or writing a family newspaper or a journal.

One trick that might help would be to have him pick out his best penmanship on each paper he brings home. Have him point out his best letter and word on each spelling, lanugage arts, social studies, etc paper. Even have him show you his best numbers on the math papers. Pride can make a lot of people willing to put in even more effort.

It probably isn't worth your effort to challenge the spelling tests. The items are being marked wrong due to being illegibe. Well, that is a subjective scale that would be really hard to fight.

Think too, in the grand scheme of your son's life, how much does it matter what his spelling test scores are in second grade. He knows how to spell the words, that is important. One spelling grade or another one really isn't nearly as important.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 12:49PM
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I can say I had much the same experience...only I'm dealing with a special needs child whose only great success was spelling.....the grade 2 teacher said "hand written only"...I came back with....."printed " - my reason we are looking for the letters to see if the word is correct....in the end the teacher backed down. If nothing else suggest .....OK the kid handwrites the word...then prints it beside ....OK it will take the kid a few minutes to do the list again...but everyone wins including the child who will feel some success. Try suggesting that to the teacher....if you don't get any positive feedback...go see the principal and talk to them about it....see the assistant principal or counsellor....say you are concerned even though it is minor..you want it dealt with being a concerned parent. I would...I'm still running to the school when I have questions/concerns....my child is in Grade 8 now and I get thanks from the school for being involved. My 2cents...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 3:29PM
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My sister handwriting is not that great! It never has been as far as I know. She is older than I am. But, through High school and in college she mantained a straight "A" average. Her writing looks exactly like my Mother's. Even when she writes her neatest, it doesn't look very pretty or like the handwrititing books do. So, even though it is good to have good penmanship, many intelligent people just don't, while other do. I don't know why? My sister can draw pretty good, but why she doesn't write well I think has to do with inheritance or maybe not as good of motor skills-but then there is her drawing.

I would not say penmanship is the very most important subject, by far. But sometimes if the writing is too bad I can understand how the teacher or anyone reading what is wrote wouldn't be able to correctly understand all that is written. Perhaps your son's writing will improve, but then again, there is the possibilty that it won't ever be great! I just don't totally agree with the teacher about the penmanship being the very most importanat subject.

What I think is really great about a person that doesn't write well, is for them to be able to Type well. My sister can type very well. So make sure your son when the time comes takes typing:o) Of course in the mean time do everything you can now to help him with his writing, and I hope his penmanship does get better!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 11:33PM
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Thank all of you very much for your suggestions and words of encouragement. I also feel that with practice and time, my sonÂs writing will improve. We are going to try some of the suggestions e.g. using scissors, coloring books, penpal letters, etc. I also wanted to share with you an amazing turn of events (Prayer does work) which have occurred over the past two days. My sonÂs Teacher has been out the past two days so there has been a Substitute teaching the class. On Tuesday he brought home his seatwork for our review. My wife was so excited when she saw it that she phoned me at work to shout that he received an Âexcellent for his penmanship. The same thing happened on Wednesday. It looked as though someone else had did the writing, but the Substitute assured my wife that it was he. Last night I watched him write his spelling words and it was indeed a 99.9% improvement over his normal work. I asked him why and how his writing improved so much and he told me that Âthe new Teacher showed me how to do it the easy wayÂ. He didnÂt want to elaborate on what the new way was. I am now very anxious to see his work tonight and also to see if it changes back when his regular Teacher returns on Monday. I will keep you posted. Again I thank you all for your concern.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2002 at 1:02PM
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That's great. I'd like to meet that substitute and find out that easier way of writing! My son could use that lesson, too. He doesn't want to try it "my way" he insists he can do it "his way."

    Bookmark   March 14, 2002 at 4:07PM
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good penmanship is needed to read something, but it's not all important! if your son is getting great grades but they won't let him on the honor role just because of his handwriting, they are insane! but if he has bad muscle coordination, maybe you should encourage him to draw as a hobby. then, he will have nice handwriting and an unique talent! (that's what i did)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2002 at 9:11PM
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When cursive starts, teachers work on penmanship more. Most kids come to school self taught in printing, and unteaching bad habits takes too much time,they tell me. So teachers just wait till they can teach cursive correctly.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2002 at 1:45AM
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I cannot understand the logic behind denying a child recognition on the honor roll because he or she has lees than perfect handwriting!!!!!!!!
I'm very passionate about school issues, and studying to be a teacher myself, so forgive me if I get UPSET!!:)
My third grade son has awful writing too, but you know what??? He CAN read, do math, art, and music, he loves sports, and he loves painting and chess....who cares if he doesn't write NEAT, who has the right to JUDGE that petty of a skill anyway!!????? It is something that he will do in time, and for now I wouldn't worry about it, but I would discuss the honor roll deal with someone because that's plain ridiciclous.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2002 at 12:26AM
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My 1st grade son, age 7, has horrible handwriting. He also suffers from Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which makes it almost impossible to do any better - his small muscle coordination was tested at a 4 y.o. level by an occupational therapist.

I'm not saying there is anything "wrong" with your DS, but consider having him tested by an O.T. If he tests below age level on small muscle coordination, you can give the teacher PROOF he's doing the best he can in penmanship, and then it would be against the law to count his "disability" against him. My son is improving with occupational therapy, but has a way to go - I'm just thankful he has a very understanding teacher!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 4:59PM
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Maybe he's going to be a doctor.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 8:57PM
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I like Milly's answer!! Seriously, 2nd grade is too early to be so strict on penmanship. Many children have not gained the small muscle control necessary for very even printing and if the word is legible, it should not be marked wrong. It would be the same to punish an 18 mo.old for wetting their pants! I'm glad he is doing better, I would be curious as to how the other 2nd graders print and if the principle knows how strict the teacher is with that age group. It seems a little out of line to me. It's good to strive in that direction, another to demand it when it may not be physically possible for all 2nd graders to accomplish.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2002 at 9:36PM
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Second grade for me, (years ago) :-), was when the focus was on penmanship. What better time, than when you are learning to write... if you wait until later, then you'll have to 'unlearn' old habits.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 8:07AM
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I believe emphasis should be placed on improving ones penmanship. To be able to write and know what is written is very important and one should take pride in their penmanship.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2002 at 11:11PM
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