Friday, March 26, 2010

Who knew

that cursive would be such a hot topic? :D

I think it's great that so many people are thinking about bringing cursive into their children's lives. I don't understand those who have gotten judgemental and bashing people for using cursive or not. There is nothing written anywhere that says we are "bad people" for doing one or the other!!

In any case, the most recent questions have been:

  • How do I make the transition?
  • How will my child recognise print?
The transition will depend a bit on the age of your child. If they are under 6, I'd strongly encourage you to make a set of cursive sandpaper letters. If they already know some print sandpaper letters, start with 2 or 3 of them and give them 3-period lessons on matching the print with the cursive. Pick VERY distinguishable, easy, letters to begin with. It would not be fair to start with l and e together! I'd say, as part of the lesson, trace the letter yourself before you match it with the print. And I'd also say do not trace the print anymore. 

If your children are over 6, some sort of hands-on aspect would be very good, although you could probably do with just matching letter cards. The sandpaper isn't necessary. As for learning the letters, just like a typical Montessori presentation, start with just a few. But because the child is over 6, the sensory aspect isn't usually quite as necessary. What is very helpful is to provide light letters to trace over. Let them do it as long as they want! In school, I remember being rather rushed to transition from tracing, to dotted to just doing the letters within the lines. It was too much too fast and my poor natural lefty self, writing with my right hand, had horrible, horrible handwriting. My handwriting improved dramatically years later when a friend, who had beautiful cursive, wrote out the alphabet for me on a sheet of looseleaf and I instinctively traced and traced and traced, tried on my own, and went back and traced when I wasn't satisfied.

I just recently purchased a program called StartWrite. It lets you make worksheets choosing from a bunch of different fonts--including different cursive fonts, change the size, decide if you want lines--including the middle dotted line, etc. My one complaint is most of the cursive fonts don't have all of the letters starting on the line, and the one that does start on the line is an "icky" font. (That just means I don't like it. lol) I actually take a pencil and draw the leading line.

Another program out there is Schoolhouse Fonts, which has a very nice D'Nealian cursive font that DOES start on the line, but I liked the greater number of options with StartWrite and decided to go with that instead. Of course, there are others, too, depending on what you want:  and are a couple of others.


As for "How will my child recognise print?"

First of all, print is EVERYWHERE. They see it all the time. They will therefore absorb it.

Secondly, if you know the cursive letters, it is rather easy to pick out the print letters that correspond. The reverse is NOT true--you can not "see" the cursive letter in the print letter. 

Third, because of the first and second points, children probably don't need any adult interference in learning to read print. From Maria Montessori's "The Montessori Method":
Seeing these surprising results, I had already thought of testing the children with print, and had suggested that the directress print the word under the written word upon a number of slips. But the children forestalled us! There was in the hall a calendar upon which many of the words were printed in clear type, while others were done in Gothic characters. In their mania for reading the children began to look at this calendar, and, to my inexpressible amazement, read not only the print, but the Gothic script.
 So, here she thought she would get them to do something new (up to this point, Maria and the directress had been providing little slips of paper with words in cursive on them for reading practice) and discovered that the children already knew how to read print and Gothic!!! This ease of transition is why you don't ever learn about lessons designed by Maria Montessori herself to teach children how to read print: they've already figured it out once they've mastered the cursive and idea of reading.

If, by some chance, your child is still confused after quite a while, then you simply have to provide specific lessons on letters and maybe words. I think you'll find, though, that you need to give your child much more credit. I think of my son, who reads amazingly well in English, even though he has really only followed along in books I read to him in French. AFTER age 6, I might add. Our children are amazing if we don't spend too much time trying to mould them according to the pre-determined notions that are pervasive in our society.

1 comment:

The Sunshine Crew said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about cursive. We are gong to get into cursive soon.