Handwriting pressure in kindergarten?

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Handwriting pressure in kindergarten?

Postby GFNancy » Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:58 am

This is a bit of a rant, so please excuse the length of this post. I'm just frustrated.

My daughter just started public kindergarten three weeks ago. There has been a lot of focus on handwriting.

When she started school she could write her first name. Basic printing. Nothing fancy.

The second day of school the teachers told me that she wasn't doing it right and she had to do it with the D'Nealian alphabet. I thought they meant she needed to work on it over the next couple months, to transition to D'Nealian.

The third day, they provided me with a homework paper that she needed to complete, writing her name in the approved manner. They showed me a paper where she had written the first letter of her name and said that that took her 30 minutes sitting one-on-one with one of the teachers. So basically, she just flat refused to do it.

On the morning of the fourth day (she's in the PM class) my daughter burst into tears while I was trying to get her to write her name the way they wanted her too. And my daughter is a happy, confident, rough and tumble little girl. She doesn't just burst into tears. Ever.

Needless to say, I'm not too happy about any of this.

I looked into homeschooling several years ago, but decided against it when we moved to this area, which has highly rated public schools. But now I get what they mean by highly rated. Ratings as in testing. Ah. I get it now.

Apparently, with the initial assessment the child is supposed to write their name and the handwriting reveals something or other, and they can either check or not check a box on a form somewhere. Hmph..

Then, they started in on her not paying attention and being distracted. Gee I wonder why... A month ago she had a mom that was so proud of her for writing her name, and now she's being told she's not even doing it right. Hmm...

Before, I was looking at homeschool in order to provide a richer academic environment for my child. Now, I'm looking into it so that she can get out of the pressure cooker.

I did some research into the current state of kindergarten and found that the pressure on these young kids (and the teachers) now is unreal. There is so much focus on testing that the pressure has gotten pushed down the line until kindergarten is the new first grade.

I read an article that said that kindergarten teachers are really having a tough time. Not only are they teaching kids of various levels of ability, skills and behavior, but they are expected to produce readers and writers so that the first grade teachers can hit the ground running in order to prepare the kids for the formal testing in second grade.

So it's not just my daughter's school or my daughter's teachers. It's a nationwide trend.

Another thing that I've found shocking is that it's now considered perfectly normal for several kids in a class to repeat kindergarten because they're not quite prepared for first grade.

I'm also really irritated that so much focus is put on a specific style of handwriting. Not only at this age, but at all. I believe that she needs to write legibly, which she was. Other than that, give me a break. If I remember right, teachers stopped caring at all how you formed your letters, as long as they were legible, in the 3rd or 4th grade.

Do homeschooling kindergarten curriculums have this much focus on perfecting handwriting?


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Postby seekingmyLord » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:01 am

Nancy, you are the teacher when you homeschool. You can choose whatever curriculum you want as long as it complies with your state's laws. There are many styles from which to choose and I don't know of any state that requirements a particular printing style to be taught.

I go eclectic in homeschooling, which means I don't do grade in a box curricula. I like Italic Handwriting for my child, but that does not mean that I expect her writing style to match it completely. Mostly, I am more concerned with her making the letters with the strokes in the correct direction so that the transition into cursive handwriting is easy.

There is also a philosophy to teach cursive and not to bother with teaching a child how to print.

As I said, you have lots of choices! I hope it goes well for you.
Last edited by seekingmyLord on Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ncmom » Sat Sep 01, 2007 9:00 am

My daughter went to PS Kdg too and hated it. I pulled her and my older one out, and now several years later, they are both much happier. Obviously this is just my experience but I hear a lot of people saying the same thing.
As far as the test scores for the district. They taught my kids the test all year long. All year they learned what was on the test, how the test was going to be set up and how to test. They did this to the point where they didn't even pass out the science books because they concentrated on math instead and didn't have time to teach science that year. They do EOG, End of Grade, testing here.
I pulled my kids out after my daughter had her experience in Kdg. I had similar experiences with the writing in Kdg. She could write when she entered but she didn't form her letters the way they thought she should. After I pulled her out we did printing for a short while and then started cursive. I didn't push the cursive but she loved it so we went with it and pretty much skipped the perfecting of the print letters.
As far as the whole "she doesn't form her letters right" as long as I can read them I don't care how they write them. If it works for her it works for me. I do require a little more consistency in cursive writing so all the letters connect like they should, but even then if she does it a little different than me, Oh well. I don't write the way I was taught either and my older one does a combo of print and cursive.
I use Abeka curriculum and it does have daily handwriting but I don't use it like the curriculum says. I do it my way. This is just worked for us. If you choose to pull your child out you would have to find what works for you and your daughter.
Good Luck!

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Postby GFNancy » Sat Sep 01, 2007 12:51 pm

Thanks for all the good advice. Unfortunately, my dh isn't as supportive of the idea of homeschooling, or even charter, as I am. I think he's picturing more of an unschooling situation, which isn't what I'm interested in. Right now he's got a horrible amount of work pressure, so I'm just going to let the subject drop for a bit.

What I am going to do is get my daughter and I on a schedule of doing some extra work at home. I don't want to just do more of what is already frustrating her (although we do the practice pages). Maybe a unit study of some sort. That way I can see if learning at home is something that works for us.


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Postby Lily » Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:15 pm

I want to explain something first - D'nealian makes an easy transition to cursive. They don't have to completely relearn writing in third grade, just a few letters and the strokes are the same.

That said, they really shouldn't be putting so much pressure on the writing, but it should be encouraged both at home and at school if she is going to adapt to it. I would just say that it's a different way and keep whatever personal opinions you might have of the style inside, so that she doesn't pick up on it. Maybe she would like to practice the new style in shaving cream or sand?

Oh, and we do focus on handwriting here. Low pressure, but it is one of our subjects. I treat writing as an art form, so we have several tricks when it comes to learning this art.
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Postby pancharnic » Wed Sep 05, 2007 9:24 am

Dear Nancy, that was the reason why I pulled my son from his first school. His teacher complained that he was not writing. I told her that he was not ready. She asked "When will he be ready?". Well at that stage I just said "Quite frankly I don't care." And I took him home.

The bottom line is that he is now reading and writing at the same level as those children who were pushed into the early writing and reading. He is at the top level of his class (different school). When they are ready they are ready.

I do like Jolly Phonics - out of the UK. It introduces cursive from day one and does not use the alphabet in order but rather letter clusters - SATPIN, I think are the first few letters the children learn. They are taught the sounds rather than the letter name. It is a great programme and I can recommend it.

Remember that each child is different and so other methods can be used. Play dough is great for building up those finer muscles. Painting letter can be great fun too. Don't rush into the writing if you can help it. Let her go at her own pace and don't be afraid to let the teacher know where to get off (nicely of course)!

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Postby StellarStory » Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:05 pm

Too much pressure to accelerate everything is epidemic in schools today IMO.

Kids and humans can't be forced into things before they are ready without damage being done, also IMO.

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Postby momo3boys » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:28 am

StellarStory wrote:Too much pressure to accelerate everything is epidemic in schools today IMO.

Kids and humans can't be forced into things before they are ready without damage being done, also IMO.

THat is my dilemma with my 9yo. Stellar, if you could read my post in the special needs section I would appreciate it. THanks.
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Postby laurabeth » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:49 pm

My daughter went to ps last year for K and although she had a generally fine year I thought the amount, and type of work they were doing was nuts. She went full day, five days a week, and had homework 3 nights a week. I started homeschooling because we moved and I didn't want them in the district they would have had to go to, but I am soooo glad I did! My hubby wasn't very supportive at first, but he came around. Find articles and examples and curriculum choices and have a sit down or two with him and he might just realize it is not a bad choice. You could also tell him you want to use this year as a "trial" or whatever too. Personally, if I was in your situation and couldn't pull her out, I would tell the teacher where to go, but thats just me lol. She will get there when she is ready and only then!

Good luck!

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Postby StellarStory » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:53 pm

momo3boys wrote:
StellarStory wrote:Too much pressure to accelerate everything is epidemic in schools today IMO.

Kids and humans can't be forced into things before they are ready without damage being done, also IMO.

THat is my dilemma with my 9yo. Stellar, if you could read my post in the special needs section I would appreciate it. THanks.

I read it and posted to it.

My husband was about scared to death about homeschooling but it's been great for our kids education, and our lives together as a family.

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Postby marinewife929 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:08 pm

GF Nancy rant on....I totally understand your dilemna and frustrations and it's a good thing you pulled your daughter out...because the truth of the matter is that it doesn't get any better. My son is in 1st grade in the California School System and the expectations placed on these children at this age is outrageous. :shock:

Currently the curriculum wants these children to be writers and readers. Now the reading I can understand....but the writing??? come on...and when I say writing, I not talking form and technique..but expressing thoughts on paper. They want these children to be able to write fully and completely like they are well known authors. The agenda now in the curriculum is to focus on writing....now my son is a facts person...so he is great at math...but we struggled with writing and expressing thoughts on paper, which is to be expected. Usually if you are good at Math you will SUCK at writing.

Talk about a mother who is frustrated to no end!!! Testing here starts at the 1st grade level...they call them Benchmark scores....now these scores will determine who is promoted to 2nd grade.

School has become less fun to these children and 100 times more stressful...even for me as the parent...because to have a teacher look you the face and tell you that your son is great at math, but that those scores do not matter is heartbreaking especially when they go on to say that there is risk of retention because he cannot express thoughts on paper.

School is now a different place....I have three of the educators from the school tell me not to worry about the Math...that will come...(Whatever that means???) and just focus on reading and writing stories. Now he has made improvements were they are needed...but his math scores have decreased tremendously. So I understand your frustrations. :x :roll: :shock:

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Postby Jazzy » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:59 pm

Nancy, what you have experienced is not uncommon and is quiet ridiculous. My son was being pressured to write in Pre-K. They actually wanted me to send him to handwriting therapy. Um... No way!

It is one of the things that convinced me to homeschool and we haven't looked back. He's 7 now, and writing just fine. :wink:

Last edited by Jazzy on Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Shari Nielsen » Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:30 am

You wouldn't believe the issues my daughter's school had w/ the fact that she put a line across the top of her capital J. Doesn't everyone???? The poor kid kept getting papers back w/ J's rewritten by the teacher. Apparently it's just the "fishhook" and no top. I had this explained to me personally at a parent teacher conference. Go figure!

I think its pathetic to spend this much time and effort focusing on such little things when all kids end up w/ their own style of handwriting by the time they are 11-12.
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Postby Jill » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:39 am

My daughter had BEAUTIFUL handwriting in the first grade while she was in school, but that's about it. Although I felt like they expected alot, what they wanted wasn't what I wanted. :roll:

I brought her home in November of her 2nd grade year....she's now a 5th grader. Reads ALL the time (mostly historical fiction and non-fiction), loves to learn, is interested in science, history, sports, the arts, you name it....BUT her handwriting was better when she was in the first grade.

My youngest was only in K for 2 1/2 months. Mostly because I felt the school was focused on these unimportant things more than the LEARNING. I started her with cursive once she was reading. I never taught her to print, but she does.

As a former 1st grade ps teacher, I know that nice handwriting is way overemphasized at the younger grades. I don't know why. Fine motor control maybe?

My kids' writing is legible, but not pretty. They actually can do a nice job if they really want to, but mostly, writing for them is a tool to remember or figure out something, not artwork. They love to create stories and plays and are very good typists for their ages (why wait -like I did - until high school to learn to type?) My oldest touch types (not hunt and peck) almost 40 words per minute and she's only 10.

Let's see...which would I prefer? An unquechable thirst to learn, or beautiful handwriting? :?

No doubt, I want a learner.

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