Thursday, November 13, 2008

cursive letters begin

I have noticed that my eldest, nearly 5, doesn't understand the difference between the little spaces between block letters and the big spaces between the words. An M teacher once told me that this is why they teach kids to read in cursive. Now, I don't know if this is just at that school or if it is a M.M. precept, but I liked the theory.

I haven't started sandpaper letters yet because even at $26-35 each set, it is enough to give me pause at this time. However, making them is an unknown for money and a huge time investment. I have printed out 2.5 inch tall cursive, lower-case, letters in pink/blue and put a bead of glue on them, but she isn't interested in tracing them with her fingers at this time. She also isn't interested in writing them, but this seems to be because she's not getting it perfect on the first or second try. It's the same with many of the block letters. When she was 2, she picked up on how to write several block letters on her own so I suppose she thinks they should all be so easy.

I've gone back and forth on whether to forge ahead with block letters since she knows all of their names or to introduce cursive. When I decided on cursive, I went all over and back on what font to use. The letter shapes I like the best come in a pre-lined font like in a typical kindergarten writing tablet. (in a close second is this one) I've decided to go with it anyway, because as another MHS'er pointed out, the lines give the child a point of reference so they can better understand the way to write the letter - when they are ready. Then there is still the color method. I've seen it done both ways, but I'm going with pink consonants and blue vowels. The order of the letters also changes per reference, but usually they say pick 3 letters that have different shapes and sounds in each group. I'm going another way. I'm following what My Montessori Journey does, mostly. And this is largely due to the materials she has shared on her blog. Her letters are grouped so they follow the above rules but also so simple words can be formed with them. You can see her post on this here. AT is definitely ready to read, at least a little, so I really liked MMJ's method. We've introduced all the red letters and I feel she has mastered the first 4. Tomorrow we will solidify all 8 and the next day we will work on "Red Word Drawers". Aside from the fact that I'm going to do them like 3 part cards, I did change the sheets a little. I put in the cursive font and did the pink/blue thing. In hers, the word colors correspond to the "color drawer" and in mine the border around the cards does. I also changed a couple of the photos and added 2 words. I'm really excited and I think AT is too.

Related to this: -She understands, at least to some degree, that cursive and print are different ways of doing the same thing so that hasn't been a problem... when we did the "cursive sounds" she said "Oh, that's a cursive "a" because "a" says "ah"" - Today was the first time, that I know, that she looked at cursive words as words. I titled her letter book (more on that later) and asked her to point out the words and she did that easily. She even recognized her name, but she couldn't point out any of the other individual letters. A trade off for the ability to recognize the words that I wasn't expecting. I'm going to finish with cursive anyway as I'm hoping that the pink/blue/pink of the words will help to clarify this for her. - When I was writing on her book I started off like a real title and made a "B" then I decided to change it since we're working on lower-case. I erased it, thought I made a funky "b" and erased again. She said to me "That's OK, Mommy, I don't do it perfect either." I LIKE that she sees me mess up, not get upset and try again, and again until I get it right. I've never been 100% on the M.M. idea that the teacher has to be perfect at all times so the kids see nothing but perfection. For the first presentation, sure, for an activity that the child is physically capable of doing perfect, probably, but for my sensitive souled child, seeing me mess up my writing lifted a huge weight she put on her own shoulders.

**Note added 2/20/09. Hmm, wonder where she gets this from?