Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our poor challenged child...

I went to a handwriting workshop last Sunday. It was free and held at an educational store in Boulder that I've wanted to check out anyway. This is how it was advertised to a mom's group I'm in:

Designed primarily for parents of children K-3, this handwriting workshop will cover strategies you can use at home to help improve your child's handwriting and increase their enjoyment of becoming a writer!

Topics of discussion will include:
· Why handwriting instruction is important
· Why handwriting has a positive effect on writing
· Work with your child's teacher to get results
· How to help your child at home
· What about cursive?
· BVSD's handwriting standards
· Helping the left-handed child
· and much more!

It sounded great! Connor's a lefty and we're working hard on improving his fine motor skills but I figured attending this would give me some hints how to help him in general but also specifically because "helping the left-handed child" was listed as a topic of discussion.

The first half of the lecture was great - lots of tips and suggestions how to start teaching writing, what they should be able to do at each age/grade level, ways to improve fine motor skills, etc. I took copious notes and will definitely apply some of the things I learned.

One of the things the instructor focused on was how learning letter formation early is great because then as their vocabulary expands and they want to write longer words and sentences, they don't have to waste time remembering how to write each letter if they learned well early and it becomes automatic. There was a lot of emphasis on making sure their letter formation is correct in the beginning so that mistakes don't have to be "fixed" by a teacher in a later grade.

Then one of the other moms asked the instructor to talk about left-handed kids and differences in teaching them, especially as right-handed parents. These were the instructor's words (yes, I wrote them down), "Left-handed kids have so many special challenges in life that writing is just one of the many things they'll struggle with. If they don't form their letters the right way, just go with it. Don't try to teach them to write each letter perfectly because they can't."

CAN'T? I actually said outloud (which is so unlike me) "WOW, THAT WAS ENCOURAGING..." I was sitting in the back so the other moms turned to stare at me. :) The instructor backpeddled and gave some tip about placing the paper to the left of center. I mean, come on! Surely a left-handed child can have decent penmanship, right? I just can't accept that he'll never write clearly and that that's just the way it is and that we shouldn't try.

Connor's letters are not bad now and the tips she gave for those blessed right-handers will generally apply to those "challenged" left-handers, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. Plus, it was free and the store was really cool.

If the lecture had ended after a half hour I would have left encouraged and energized and ready to practice letter writing with Connor. The last half hour left me feelin a bit discouraged and yet rebellious and wanting to work with Connor even more just to prove this crazy instructor wrong! :)

Sigh...it just shouldn't be this hard!


  1. I am a lefty and my penmanship is great. Can't?! Good for you on calling her out, that is just absurd.

  2. My high school spanish/forensic/debate teacher was a lefty and he had the most perfect handwriting every single letter was like out of a zaner-bloser instruction manual. It was amazing. That lady is definitely off her rocker. Some right-handers (i.e. Ben) have such horrid penmanship that you have to have a heiroglyphics translator to read it. :)