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Cursive Writing And Letters And Sounds


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I am really struggling with this! In our school we do cursive writing with a lead in and out. I am working through the Letters and Sounds scheme and writing letters is introduced in Phase 2 from day 1. My class is bright and able and some children are already writing letters at home. They just cannot do the cursive and their enthusiasm is waning because they feel that what they do at home is wrong. Let's face it -the s, f ,g etc are virtually impossible for 4 year olds to grasp, especially if their pencil control is poor. I know all about getting them ready for writing and we do all the right things during the day-mark making using a variety of tools and developing control in numerous other ways.

The school is not going to change. There is lots of evidence to suggest that cursive helps children join easily and it does-I've seen it myself. It's just so very hard at the beginning. My school is very high achieving and expects the year R children to be writing all letters correctly by the time they reach Year One. Historically they were, but the Year R teacher before me did lots of copy writing every day and this does not fit in with the the EY curriculum.

Any suggestions on how I can help the children'get the hang of it?'

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Hi Mackdebs,


It is a fair expectation to have the majority of chn leaving reception to have correct letter formation - they can't get FSP 5 without it! BUT, and here's the big, BUT ... the school has got to understand the building blocks to writing. The children simply can not do proper cursive writing with a lead in if they don't know where the letter actually starts from!

We follow the Pen-Pal scheme and term 1 is only motor skills and we introduce the language of handwriting (the directions, up, down, straight, curved, etc etc). Only in T2 do we start to do 'proper' handwriting teaching the individual letters. Our more able chn have already been strexthed through mark-making - mainly outdoors and have done the 4 patters (long ladder family, one-armed robot, curly caterpillar and zig-zag monster). When we teach the letters, we put a flick at the end, as this bit isn't too difficult.

Having taught Y2 when I followed a weak Y1 teacher who loved teaching hand-writing, I had to undo lots of incorrect practice - which we all know is extremely frustrating for everyone concerned!

If your class are able, and have good gross and fine motor skills (particularly good strong pincer grip - because weak grip shows chn aren't ready to hold a pencil yet) then start introducing the 4 main patterns out in the playground with chalks on the floor and walls. It will def be fun. On the Monday, if they can generally all show you that they can do a controlled line starting from top to bottom then introduce l, i, j, t, u. More able chn can add the flick. If they're all starting form the correct place, your job is done! You can now move on to the next set of letters!

By the Summer term, when chn can correctly form letters from the right starting point, you can rethink if some of them are ready to add the lead in. If they are, introduce it, if they're not - FORGET IT! They'll still have their FSP 5 because of all the fab work you've done, and the lead in will become the Y1 teachers job - building on your good foundation!

Good luck with it!


Fluffy Lamb

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Brilliant idea fluffylamb. Where can we get pen pal scheme from?

I found a wonderful whiteboard in a shop called formative fun (recently closed in our area tho) and it had the whole alphabet in cursive upstroke. I *copied* this and laminated them to produce handwriting cards. ALso enlarged each letter and made each child their name in larger upstroke cursive letters and then laminated that too. Works really well once they are able to hold pencils correctly etc. ALso it had really good double lines and arrows on it. The children seemed very able, last year, to copy the pattern without me having to say a lot. There must be more of these boards out there. They were about £10 a board though. :-(

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