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Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Truth About Boys and Girls

Two weeks ago, I started teaching 4 year old Jasmine how to write her name, and she took that project and ran with it. "Mom, how do you spell 'Dear Ms. Beth Ann?'"

I remember how much fun I had writing when I was a girl. I taught myself calligraphy and made posters for my room. I bought multi-colored pens and wrote notes to boys (that won't be allowed here, lol).

I even remember my teacher, Mrs. Barnes, who taught me to write in cursive. And I remember my second grade classmate, Jason, whose letters never looked quite right. My son Andrew's experience with handwriting reminds me of Jason's.

When Andrew was in preschool, his teacher approached me with great concern. My 3 year old wouldn't trace the 30 vertical lines on his paper. He wouldn't cut on the lines, as was part of "the rules." And he *gasp* couldn't even write his name. Had I considered handwriting therapy?

I declined therapy. I found preschool writing activities and handwriting sheets from Donna Young's website, and set about working with Andrew at home. His handwriting didn't improve much. In fact, it was painful to watch him fight with pen and paper. So I put the practice sheets away and focused on doing things Andrew enjoyed.

Every few months or so, I'd pull out a handwriting sheet and when I saw frustration, I'd put it away again. Then one day this school year, I looked at Andrew's schoolwork and all of his answers were written neatly and properly on the lines. It was almost as if someone else had written them for him.

A few days later, I noticed him getting frustrated about how long it took him to write, and I asked, "Would you like to start practicing handwriting?" He's been practicing daily since then - no complaining, no struggle, no frustration.

I named this post incorrectly. It's not really about boys and girls. It's about accepting differences in development among children, and knowing when to intervene and when to back off. I'll admit that's not something I'm especially good at.

1 comment:

The Clark Kids said...

How true! Have you ever heard Carole Joy Seid? She talks a lot about boys- especially about writing. I have my Isaac do as little writing as possible. I'd rather he write one short sentence neatly than struggle to do any more than that. Eventually, and much later than his same-age sisters, he'll get it. Why push him now to do what will come much easier later?