handwriting · slice of life · vocabulary development

My name is not Mommy.

“Before we learn w, let’s practice the last slanted lowercase letter we learned: y,” I declared.

“But I already know how to write a lowercase y. See?”

Ari crammed a lowercase y between the midline and the baseline. Without an audible I-told-you-so, I modeled the way the slant-right went from the midline to the baseline and then the slant-left went below the baseline.

“Oh yeah!” he said remembering. He proceeded to print lowercase y several times on his dry-erase board.

“W, next!” he said.

“Not so fast. I’d like to practice writing some words with a lowercase y. Now, your name doesn’t have a lowercase y in it, but my first name does. It may not sound like a y is at the end of it, but there is.”


“Do you know what my first name is?”

Ari stared at me blankly. Then his face lit up, “Shubitz!”

Yes, I did make him write my name afterward!

“That’s my last name. What’s my first name?” I asked.

“Schaefer,” he replied.

“That’s your last name. What’s my first name?”

“Mommy?” he said.

MOMMY!?!??! This kid knows my cell phone number. he knows our address. I spent so much time teaching him these things — and making sure he knew my last name was different than his — that I didn’t realize he didn’t know my first name!

“It’s Stacey,” I replied. I wrote it on my dry-erase board and showed him, letter-by-letter, how to spell my first name.

“Oh, yeah! I knew that.

Nice try, but you didn’t, kiddo.

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handwriting · slice of life

There’s no time like the present!

I don’t remember how I came across Steve Graham’s “Want to Improve Children’s Writing? Don’t Neglect Their Handwriting” piece. While it was published over a decade ago, I know it’s a recent copy since the colors are bright on the crisp white paper.

Like many classroom teachers, I’ve found I don’t always prioritize handwriting with my daughter. In September, we started off strong by practicing proper printing techniques (aka: unlearning poor habits). In October, the manuscript review pages ended. I didn’t feel Isabelle was ready to move onto cursive yet so I put it off. By November, our homeschool day was filled with reading, writing, math, grammar, read-aloud, vocabulary, etc. (N.B.: Even when you homeschool your child, there isn’t enough time to fit it all in!) Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was planning for the month of December and I realized there’s no time like the present. So, I decided that come Monday, 12/6/21, we’d begin cursive writing. Talk about ready-or-not-here-I-come!

Cursive writing begins now!

I never would’ve thought my fifth grader would still be learning cursive. Hold up! I never thought I’d be homeschooling this year. Thanks to COVID-19, both are now my realities. Cursive writing instruction should’ve happened for Isabelle when she was in the third grade. However, third grade was cut short due to the beginning of the pandemic. Last year she was in an all-remote so handwriting definitely wasn’t taught. So, here we are, homeschooling for fifth grade and cursive writing is now on our daily schedule as of — TODAY!

So, this morning, between a multiplication lesson and a writing lesson on editing run-on sentences, we began working on cursive. We talked about the way to angle the paper, the proper pencil position (i.e., Tip, Grip, Flip), tried out some words in cursive, and identified some letters that looked similar in manuscript and cursive. We’ll do some additional things to gear up for cursive writing, and then next week we’ll start the strokes (e.g., undercurve, downcurve, overcurve, diagonal).

It’s my hope that Isabelle will be strengthened by learning cursive. At the very least, she’ll learn how to sign her name properly!

There are many benefits to learning cursive, which you can learn more about by clicking on any of these articles:

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handwriting · OT · slice of life

Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

Isabelle copies her full name on the back of a picture she colored for her OT.
Isabelle copies her full name on the back of a picture she colored for her OT.

My daughter’s occupational therapist does a progress monitoring every 12 weeks. Today was the day to review Isabelle’s goals to see whether or not she’s met them, and to set new ones. We had a big decision: keep working with uppercase letters or set a new goal for lowercase letters. You see, my kiddo turns five next month (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!??)  so it’s “time” for her to start using lowercase letters in her writing. But… she’s not ready. At least not yet.

While she can comfortably write the letters in her name in uppercase, she isn’t as independent with letters that aren’t in her name. Even though it looks like she’s mastered the letters when she uses apps like Letter School, Ready to Print, and Writing Wizard, she hasn’t mastered making all of the uppercase letters on paper. Letter School is the best with the gradual release of responsibility, but the transference to paper isn’t there since a blank sheet of paper doesn’t remind you where your pen should go!

“Do you want to include lowercase letters in her goal now that she’s turning five?” Jena repeated.

I thought a little more. We push-push-push Isabelle so much. And she rises to the occasion nearly ever time. But this isn’t something I wanted to push yet.

“Can we put it off another three months?” I asked.

“Yes. But we should include it in her next set of goals,” Jena replied. “She’s going to need to know her lowercase letters once she goes to Kindergarten. We need to start working on them soon.

“Okay,” I said. I could live with that.

So instead of setting a lowercase letter goal, we set an uppercase letter goal that Isabelle would begin to copy words with a variety of uppercase letters. In fact, she started just moments after the goal was written.

Isabelle had colored a couple of pictures while I was speaking with Jena. On the back of the pictures, Jena asked Isabelle to write “To: Jena” and then she had to write her full name (first, middle, and last, which is a total of 23 letters!). It was a lot of work, but Isabelle did it with minimal complaints and a reasonable degree of accuracy. In fact, she was VERY proud of herself for being able to write all of those letters on the back of her coloring page. She even posed for a photo holding up her paper with all of the writing.

That’s when I knew we set the right goal. All kids need to feel successful. They need attainable short-term goals they can accomplish rather than being frustrated by goals that are too hard.

A lot can change in three months. And besides, being 5 1/4 isn’t too old — at least not in my book — to start working on lowercase letters.

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Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.