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Issues With Cursive Handwriting


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My son is in reception year and has dyspraxia. He has had occupational therapy and is really coming on well with his gross and fine motor skills. At home we have tried cursive handwriting with him as his school starts cursive from reception. He has found it very difficult and developed a complete aversion to fine motor skills. We then tried with print and he has found the letter formation much easier. He has developed sufficiently well to write his name and other words and feels very proud of himself. We mentioned that to his school teacher and she said that it was completely unacceptable to do printed writing in the school even if he is on the SEN register. They say if he cannot do cursive, this is evidence that he is not capable of writing full stop. My son is really motivated and loves printing so I do not want to stamp on his new confidence. We are seeing his headmistress to discuss this on Monday. Unfortunately his OT will not support us as she said that she can not interfere with school policy. Surely schools should be able to accomodate kids with special needs like dyspraxia! Does anyone have advice on how to tackle the head on Monday?



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My initial response to your post is that to be inclusive the school should meet the needs of the child, not the child meet the needs of the school.


My foster son has just had an assessment and they think he has dyspraxia, not confirmed yet, he is a yr 5 child but because of his needs the school has placed him in a yr 2/3 class, this is much better for him, and the school did this in his best interests even though it is against county policy to place children in 'out of year' classes. So, what I am saying is that policy can be flexible, however, this needs flexible attitudes from those who impliment policy.


Good luck, just be strong in that your sons motivation, disposition to learning is, in my mind, more important than a 'writing style'.


Could you get advise from the area SENCO advisor for the school?



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Nadri I feel so sorry for you - what an awful position you find yourself in.


I'm not qualified to talk about how writing is taught in school because I'm not a teacher, so my comments here are as a mother (and from my perspective as an early years practitioner). It sounds to me that the school is trying to make your little chap fit into their systems and their philosophy and not really looking at his individual needs and rights as a learner. I nearly choked at the bit about his lack of skills with cursive writing meaning he couldn't write.


I don't write in a cursive style, but my writing is legible and able to convey meaning. I know there is all sorts of research that shows the benefits of teaching a cursive learning style - but I would have thought that adopting a 'one style fits all' style of teaching handwriting might exclude some children. If your brain is simply wired differently and you 'don't get' cursive at all does that make you doomed to be a non writer all your life?


I know there are lots of experienced, sensitive teachers on here - and I'm sure they'll be able to offer you some support either to explain why it is so important that your son learns the cursive style, or to tell you how they support children for whom the cursive style is difficult to master.


If it were me speaking to the head about my child I would go in and explain how thrilled you are at the progress your son has made (and how proud of himself he is), have a frank conversation about how difficult he found the cursive style to learn, and ask him or her to tell you how the school will help his continued development, or to justify why it is so important for him to learn the cursive style. I would also do some research into the benefits of cursive handwriting in order to get an idea of the skills children need to have in order to master it. This might help you identify why your son found it so difficult and strengthen your case for enabling him to continue printing.


Just another thought - do all schools teach cursive handwriting these days? If he were at a different school would he being taught to print instead?


Sorry to go on so long - I hope someone comes along soon with some really good advice. Good luck with your meeting with the head.



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quote: They say if he cannot do cursive, this is evidence that he is not capable of writing full stop.


Sorry, I've just re-read your post and this particular comment makes me feel :oxD:(


just found these definitions of 'writing'


What is writing?

There are a number of different ways to describe writing and writing systems.


In The World's Writing Systems, Peter T. Daniels defines writing as:


a system of more or less permanent marks used to represent an utterance in such a way that it can be recovered more or less exactly without the intervention of the utterer.

In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writings Systems, Florian Coulmas defines a writing system as:


a set of visible or tactile signs used to represent units of language in a systematic way, with the purpose of recording messages which can be retrieved by everyone who knows the language in question and the rules by virtue of which its units are encoded in the writing system.


I don't think we should be making children write until they can begin to understand the concept of writing, ie: how it transfers words, thoughts, ideas, and that writing has a purpose.

In Reception to begin to change mark making into 'writing' should be a wondrous discovery, to know that another person can identify your name by the 'marks' that you consistently make should be the experience for this age child. To praise any attempt that is consistent ie: my daughter 'writes' her name but misses out one letter, she isn't chastised for this, let alone what 'style' she uses ( part capital, part lower case) What we do is show her we recognise ( read) her writing, show her how useful it is that we now know which are her pictures etc because they are named by her. and every scrap piece of paper in the house currently has her 'signature' on it because she gets great satisfaction and sense of pride in her new found skill, she wants to 'make her mark' every where. :(:(

If I'd chastised her and told her "no you've written that wrong, you can't write," how on earth would that empower her to try harder, to deny her her sense of achievement at the level she is at would be wrong.


Ask the head teacher if cursive writing style is a requirement of the Foundation Stage Curriculum, her answer should be no.


maybe some teachers will be along to comment and give guidance, I am aware that cursive writing style is seen as enabling children to then progress to 'joined up writing' and therefore I am not denying that this style is inappropriatte, I'm just saying that it should not be mandatory for your son. Children have in the past progressed from 'printing letters' to joined up, and actually when I write I prefer the 'printed' style as an adult.



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I've done a quick search.

The overall reason I can find is to help with speed in later life, note taking etc. I cant find anything that says its better for a 5 or 6 year old. In fact the most I can find is that it should be taught as a seperate lesson and that it is an art form.

These sites might help a bit, the first one is American


Cursive writing


Video of cursive writing

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All schools do not teach cursive in reception no.

So that makes all our reception children in our school incompetent at writing.

So what is wrong with your son printing and then moving on to cursive when he is ready.

I agree stick to your guns they can not call themselves an inclusive school if they are meeting individual needs.And if you get no joy seek advise from your area senco as already said.

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Nandri, this must be awful for you.

I feel that if he is attempting to write, whatever the style then fantastic. These things have to be approached in steps, ( as with all things) and if he needs to spend longer on the printing step then fine, at least he is trying and feeling good about his attempts.

Whole of school policy can not always be put on SEN children, would the school expect all SEN children to use the toilet without assistance, I doubt it. As I see it your son has needs where fine motor skills are involved and should get the support (including emotional) that he requires.

Hope the meeting goes well, make sure you get your point across, let us know how it goes.


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school policy probably aimed at ks1 outcomes and being able to achieve a level 3. It's utter rubbish that he "can't write" and any fs practitioner worth their salt should be able to accomodate the needs of an individual in any way that is best for that child. Stay firm and don't let head dismiss the issue.

Good luck!


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I have to confess it is my school policy for all children to use a single style of handwriting and we teach this style right from reception but I would never say that a child's writing in another style means they aren't capable of writing just they aren't ready for our style yet.

When you say your son is being taught cursive do you mean joined letters or just letters with a "flick" ready to join?

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