Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cursing Cursive Writing

The Small Boy has not appreciated his time in Class One so far (see here) but in recent weeks his attitude has improved. He might not enjoy going to school - getting, as it does, in the way of some serious track building, train-chuffing and Dr Who watching - but he HAS accepted he has to go there.

So the two hour brawl to get him into his uniform and the twenty minute drag (that should be a ten minute walk) to the school are (mostly *touches wood*) things of the past.

And he has also, belatedly, realised that if he learns things at school they WILL stop going on at him quite so much. Every morning he asks me the day, the date and the year because he NEEDS to know it when he arrives at school. I'm not sure they actually pin him to a wall with a light shining in his eyes, but he makes it sound as if they do.

And then there's The Spelling Test, once a week and six words to learn. The Small Boy would dearly love to be a big shot in The Spelling Test and we learn them words, goddamn it. We learn them so damn much that by Wednesday I've developed word blindness and have absolutely no idea what any of the words mean, just how they're put together.

We read the words. We write the words. We spell the words out in lettered beanbags. We write them out again. We have mock tests and finally, on Wednesday, on the way to school, instead of playing our own particular brand of I Spy -  the Distraction From Walking To School version when you CAN I Spy a Dalek or a Cyberman *sigh* - we play The Spelling Test.

And sometimes, at the classroom door I have been known to give him a shoulder rub and send him into the class with a my own version of Henry V's inspirational speech ringing in his ears. It's not as if we don't try or anything.

So it hurts (like a dagger through the heart) when every Wednesday home time he tries to look determinedly cheerful as he emerges from the school door waggling his spelling test in his hand because he does not do well. Once he got four right and that was a grand day with celebratory celebrations and extra Dr Who, but mostly he doesn't do well at all.



I'm blaming the new fad, because fad it is *rolls eyes,* of teaching the kids to read in print and write in joined-up, or in cursive writing as grown-ups call it.

I don't even write in joined-up and I'm marginally older than Methuselah but I remember doing constant O loops and L loops when I was 8 or 9. The 16 year olds and the 10 year old started with printing and moved on to joining-up in Class 2 but between then and now, someone, somewhere changed some educational rules or guidelines or some such *tuts*

The Small Boy knows his letters, he can read - with a bit of spelling out and concentration (even without the aid of a bored sister giving him a nudge and telling him the word). His joined-up writing, though, leaves a lot to be desired. If you want a Dalek (complete with inner octupus) exploding in a thousand scribbles, he's your man. You want him to write six words in joined up writing, you might as well drop a spider in an inkwell and play it some loud disco.

And I have a tendency to get teeth-gnashingly annoyed with the teacher's marking of The Spelling Test, because I, doting mummy that I am, can read his joined-up writing (just like I can read The Man's illegible writing AND my father-in-laws which looks like knitting). And I can tell that the Small Boy's 'ur' is a 'w' because he hasn't quite got his head around how to join a 'u' and a 'r' yet ... and that sometimes an 'e' looks like an 'a' because he gets lost on the way there .... and that sometimes he will put three or four 'o's in a word because he just forgets where to stop.

But a big fat 0 out of 6 does not cheer his little soul, nor does it inspire him to try harder and he gets a little bit bewildered when what he knows in his head won't reach the paper in one piece. I try not to despair too much though, if his writing doesn't improve he could always become a doctor...

*Proud mummy beam*

5 comments :

  1. Spelling/cursive writing are the bain of many parents' and children's lives. The theory behind it os that we learn the shape of a word and we learn the lines we need to make that shape. If we use cursive writing we use one line (or close to) so writing, and therefore spelling, becomes automatic. That's the basic argument anyway.

    I think the idea behind launching straight into cursive is to save them taking the time to learn one way then asking them to relearn another - this is despite the fact that the person who came up with this undoubtedly had to learn twice him/herself. In my experience, in their first year children are taught cursive but they print it - so they learn the shapes and the flicks of cursive letters but they're not asked to join them. Joining comes once they are more secure, and most children start spontaneously joining letters in their first year. Perhaps your son would benefit from that. Ultimately, it may not be their usual tactic in your son's school, but they have a duty to adapt to suit each child's needs so don't be afraid to ask. If they can't get their heads around that, it's how it's done in Scotland and I'm happy to dig out some of the info that's probably in the attic.

    It sounds like you're doing a fabulous job of teaching and supporting your son. My suggestion to you and the school would be to not focus on a mark out of six but on his previous score. In other words, he gets a big smiley face sticker (or something similar) if he gets 6/6 OR more than he got the week before. You could decide whether (especially because it's only 6) he gets a sticker if he gets the same as the week before. He may experience a greater sense of success that way.

    Hope it helps!

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    Replies
    1. Shh, don't tell the school but I've already resorted to the underhand tactic of separating the letters out, we'll work on adding the flicky bits on like you say if that will help him in the long run.
      Thank you x

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  2. ...another funny read even about a 'serious' topic...bless him, how demoralising! We have the same spelling test scenario but sometimes the teacher not being able to decipher the letters works in his favour and she ticks it right when it is in fact, wrong...so we roll with the punches!!

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