Then I went to my very first homeschool conference and after being whooped up on in a couple sessions with Jessica Hulcey – man, I was glad my little guy was only 4. It got me off the hook for not having a clear philosophy of education ready to spout off to her – It dawned on me that I was doing the wrong thing. I was ready – cash in hand -- to order the curriculum that would send us into homeschool hell.
You see, J hated to write. His whole body would go limp. He would whine and slink off the stool at the thought of just writing his name at the bottom of a card for Grandma. And I was ready to buy a big stack of workbooks. But, this was how I was (public) schooled. I loved filling in the all the blanks as neatly as I could. I loved being able to easily check my work by scanning through all the blanks. I loved having a complete book… pages crackling with graphite as I flipped through them. But I had a child who was very different from me and fortunately Jessica revealed that to me in her session.
I didn’t go out and buy her curriculum, though I did peruse a friend’s copy of it and I did (and still do) think it’s terrific. I did choose a unit study that would allow us freedom to move around, flexibility to change focus, add manipulatives and leave out writing as much as possible. That was the Weaver and I’ll save my reasons for choosing it for another day (Ha! Don’t hold your breath!)
Gradually, I began to notice that while J hated writing letters he actually began to enjoy writing numbers and he even enjoyed making lists (that’s MY son). So, I latched on to that and ran with it. I let him lead and he grow more comfortable with pencil control and spacing and all the skills he needed to move into lettering.
I also am savvy enough to realize that he is growing up in an information age wherein it is far more important for him to learn to type than it is for him to have perfect handwriting -- I realize that he will probably never handwrite lecture notes by the time he is in college and he already wants a laptop -- so, pushing perfect handwriting was not only a losing battle but, in my opinion, was archaic.
However, there will always be honey-do lists and phone numbers scribbled on the message board in the kitchen, so some modicum of readable writing is certainly called for. But not when you’re 5 or even 6.
I saw other homeschooled children writing beautifully in cursive and I got caught in the comparison trap thinking he was behind. Usually students begin cursive writing in second grade. Well, at 7 he was in third grade and I’d never mentioned cursive to him. It wasn’t worth the battle.
Then one day he decided he wanted to write a book. Just like that. Chapters, Table of Contents, pictures and everything. He was so proud of his book. And therefore, he was proud of his writing. And thus our battles in this area were heretofore drastically reduced. HE decided it was time to write. He was ready.
Well, his grandmother kept writing to him in cursive on every holiday card and that frustrated him. He couldn’t read the “squiggly writing.” He finally asked the summer in which he had just turned 8 if he could learn cursive. He made up his own version of cursive and has signed his name a few times using it. Smilingly, I purchased a workbook and since January 1, letter by letter, he’s learning it. And he’s loving it. In fact he’s loving it so much that one morning after he let me sleep in a bit, he presented me with this little message:
Isn’t that beautiful?? THAT’S WHY I’M GLAD I MADE THIS CHOICE. His biggest struggles are conquered on HIS timetable. And they actually become his strengths.