I overheard Jane coaching Beanie how to write something— "Remember, make the ball bounce off the ground and up to the fence…"—and it called to mind this old post from Bonny Glen. I’m seeing a lot of Google hits on handwriting-related topics lately, so I’ll reprint the post here in case Jane’s little word picture is helpful to anyone else.
handwriting improved dramatically this week, quite suddenly and to my
surprise. I commented on a particularly lovely word, and she told me
matter-of-factly that Jane’s "writing idea" had helped her.
"What’s Jane’s writing idea?" I asked. This was the first I’d heard about any such thing.
Jane looked up from her Mossflower dictation to chime in. Jane is awfully fond of chiming in, no matter what the subject.
"It’s the bouncing-ball technique," she enthused. "I invented it."
"Yes, and it really works!" said Rose.
"See, Mom," Jane explained, "here’s how it works. You pretend the
line you’re writing on is a sidewalk. The point of your pencil is a
little bouncy ball. The ball drops to the sidewalk from different
heights and bounces back up. Sometimes, like for g or y, it rolls into
the gutter. For little a, it bounces up and then you push it straight
back down, see?"
I did see, sort of. Rose saw it clearly—this bouncing ball thing
made more sense to her than any guidance I’ve attempted to give. She’s
a perfectionist and tends to get frustrated about every tiny flaw in
her handwriting. Not today, though. She contentedly bounced that ball
off the sidewalk and into the gutter through half a page’s worth of
"Cute Sayings" for the collection she is compiling.
Lots of material for that collection around here.
A while back I posted about Beanie’s preference for gripping a writing implement with her whole fist. She was 5 1/2 then, six years old now, and I wanted to let you know that in these past few months, she has made a fairly seamless transition to using the proper pencil grip without much intervention on my part. All I did was continue to give her occasional (and honestly, "occasional" is code for "infrequent") practice sessions with small pieces of chalk or crayons which forced her to grip with her fingers instead of fist, and she played a lot with the Handwriting Without Tears Magna-Doodle thing I mentioned in that post.
I did not do regular daily handwriting lessons or anything like that, in keeping with my convictions about delaying the beginning of formal studies until age six at the very earliest. I let her keep on coloring her pictures with her fist grip, because she adores coloring and I didn’t want that very pleasant pastime to become a source of frustration for her. A couple of times a week, I asked her to practice her "pencil grip" (our name for the correct hand position, as opposed to "fist grip"), and gradually she switched over. Now she uses the pencil grip almost all of the time when coloring, and always when writing words.
Recently, Rose started working on pretty, swirly cursive writing with the Getty-Dubay Italic cursive book (what eight-year-old girl doesn’t leap at the opportunity to learn fancy writing?), and this got Miss Beanie all fired up to have a handwriting book of her own. I’m seizing the moment, therefore, and she’ll be starting the Getty-Dubay Book A pretty soon.
(A side note about handwriting programs: I have taken a pretty unschooly approach to penmanship, allowing my kids to use workbooks when they wished, but not requiring it. So far, all three girls have wished it. I buy Getty-Dubay Italic for the totally self-indulgent reason that I like the way the writing looks.)
Anyway, just wanted to share the news of Bean’s progress in case anyone else out there was worried about a fist grip. There are some helpful suggestions in the comments of that first post, too.