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New way of forming letters - Is it a pile of cr*p or am I missing something?

(76 Posts)
Manictigger Thu 25-Oct-12 12:22:36

Last week I went to dd's parents' evening and the teacher (Y1) explained to us about how the children are learning about a new way of forming their letters. Apparently you have a 'flick' at the start of some letters and it is supposed to help them with joined up writing. Teacher rolled eyes as she explained it and said she was having to relearn to write along with the children. I'm baffled by it frankly because in reception the children learnt that most letters start at the top (now they mostly appear to start at the bottom) and I thought that with joined up writing you tended to start the new letter according to where the one before finished (IYSWIM)!

Mrz, anyone, please help, am I being really stupid here?

SavoyCabbage Thu 25-Oct-12 12:24:51

I have seen this sort of handwriting before. Possibly in Hampshire which, when I was there 10 years ago, had the same handwriting scheme across the whole county.

beanandspud Thu 25-Oct-12 12:36:33

DS doesn't have the 'flick' at the start but is learning to write with a very pronounced since he seems to like doing it 'flick' at the end. It makes for quite odd looking writing but I am going with the flow and just trusting the school that they know best.

mameulah Thu 25-Oct-12 12:45:14

The teacher shouldn't have rolled her eyes at you. She is showing that she finds learning new skills hard and that is the last thing she should be doing.

I have taught hundreds of children how to read and write. The flick is a good idea and it is often over pronounced at the beginning. Some teachers teach the flick being written as a straight line because as the child's writing becomes more fluid it will naturally become more gentle and curved. The important thing is to form the letter consistently and it does make life easier if you follow the school's policy. Ask them for a copy of the alphabet and confirm with them the correct formation. I am not the sort of teacher to bother if someone forms the letter using a different option than the one I am teacher but heaps of teachers are really antsy about it so better getting it 'right' from the start.

And if your DS is enthusiastic about his handwriting then well done you. You are half way there. Give him some chalk and get him to practise on the pavement, or paint them with water and paintbrushes.

uoYekorByMredluomS Thu 25-Oct-12 12:46:47

Isnt this normal now confused?

fishcalledwonder Thu 25-Oct-12 12:54:39

I worked in a school that adopted the approach I think you are describing. All letters started on the line then 'flicked up'. We were all a little sceptical, but the head teacher was very enthusiastic so we got on board.

Very quickly, the older children's handwriting improved and the SENCO was delighted at the help it gave some children with their spelling. Apparently your hand 'learns' the shape of common letter strings.

As a year 6 teacher, I can't comment on the impact on teaching the youngest children to form letters, but I imagine it makes it easier for some as all letters start in the same way. except 'x' which I never managed to form in this way.

Jux Thu 25-Oct-12 12:59:39

Is this cursive you are talking about? I still think it ruined dd's handwriting. She was writing really well, clearly and confidently, before she had to start doing this at school. Even now her writing is awful (though her teachers say it's fab, but that may be in comparison). Ugly and ill-formed. Almost illegible imo.

Why can't joined up writing be taught by saying "don't take the pen off the paper until the end of the word, then cross ts and dot is and then move on to the next word". Much simpler.

Sorry.

Manictigger Thu 25-Oct-12 12:59:43

To be fair to the teacher if I was told I had to relearn to write in my mid- forties I would probably do more than roll my eyes.

However, I'm confused by how you form for e.g. words such as boy. Surely the letter 'o' finishes at the top. You then have to 'swoop' down to the bottom to do your 'y' starting flick. Which to me makes it look like 'ay'.

Ok, I know, I'm getting a little obsessed by this.

Manictigger Thu 25-Oct-12 13:03:08

Jux, yes exactly. I'd rather dd concentrated on getting the letters right and then just joined them in the most logical way rather than in a way that just makes some words look very weird.

vodkaanddietirnbru Thu 25-Oct-12 13:34:07

ours do a flick at the end of the letter rather than at the start which helps to join them up in the future. Means they are starting letters in the right place too.

swlmum Thu 25-Oct-12 13:40:18

I think this is what they do from reception in dds school. They then start to join up properly in Y2 i think (shes only in Y1). Seems to work well. Most of the older chasten seem to have really nice neat joined up writing.
Thought most schools did this now?

swlmum Thu 25-Oct-12 13:40:58

Children not chasten hmm

mumblecrumble Thu 25-Oct-12 13:45:56

She find a new curriculum thing hard>? My goodness she is going to have ahard career.

DD, aged 5 in year 1 seems to be flicking and I thinking its a good idea. It will make joined up easier. Her handwriting looks very grown up. She is also very good at reading joined up writing.

mameulah Thu 25-Oct-12 13:47:18

Yes but you have to remember that when you are helping your DD practise you have one child to think about. Imagine having another (at least 20) and supporting them work out their logical way.

If I was you I would definitely ask for a copy of the alphabet and the letter formation. This should be part of the schools handwriting policy and you are more than entitled to see it. In fact, if they have recently changed the policy, it is odd they haven't already sent it home.

That way you can help your daughter practise in the same way she is practising at school.

Once your daughter has learned to form the letters correctly help her concentrate on the height and width.

And look at different parts of the letter with your daughter. And be sooooooooooooooooooo encouraging about the neat bits, it will give her a boost and make her go back and do more.

It is lovely to hear you stick up for the teacher but she shouldn't have rolled her eyes. Imagine you went to the doctor and s/he said 'there is this new thing called the flu job...'(whilst rolling their eyes). One of the biggest things that is wrong with education in this country is that those within the education system are not interested in learning.

mrz Thu 25-Oct-12 17:19:22

We trialled letters starting from the line leading into fully cursive handwriting about 6 years ago and dropped it after a year as we felt it was better to teach single letters (in a style similar to that they would find in text - yes books use different fonts but none have a lead in stroke) then introduce the lead stroke late in Y1.

noramum Thu 25-Oct-12 18:02:47

DD has learned the flick in Receotion and in Year 1 now starts joining. I think she writes better than the printed style she had in preschool.

mrz Thu 25-Oct-12 18:05:01

noramum was it an entrance flick or an exit flick or both?

noramum Thu 25-Oct-12 18:20:43

They started with the exit flick and added the entry one shortly after. I think the entry one didn't really took hold until they started joining the letters.

It caused some confusions with letters like v, o, r etc but after showing her once how to do it it worked quite well.

mrz Thu 25-Oct-12 18:38:42

Most schools teach the exit stroke right from the start (that's what we do) and we add the entrance "whoosh" once they are forming letters correctly and then begin joining.

jamdonut Thu 25-Oct-12 19:56:21

We have just started doing this at our school. I find it flipping hard to do because I was taught to use italics in my own primary school, and it just doesn't join up the way I know how!! (I'm 48 now!) And it seems really difficult for left-handers (both the teachers I work with are left-handed and struggle and I am right-handed and struggle!!) I have always had pride in my handwriting, but it looks really messy doing the cursive .blush

teacherwith2kids Thu 25-Oct-12 19:57:46

DD (DS joined the same school but later on) learned cursive right from the start, absolutely consistent letter formation from the very first moment a letter is encountered. No 'print then joined', just 'always joined'. They do a lot of pattern drawing in the first term to learn the basic shapes that will form the handwriting.

I am always astonished by the collective elegance of the school's handwriting from a very early age....though in a professional capacity I would quail at the thought of teaching 4 year olds this way.

midseasonsale Thu 25-Oct-12 20:01:13

My DS did this and he took it on board in reception and it seemed to flow really well in regards to joining up.

mrz Thu 25-Oct-12 20:01:48

It's actually just as easy to teach them to write fully cursive but from a word building for spelling point of view it creates problems.

teacherwith2kids Thu 25-Oct-12 20:05:24

Yes, that's what I was meaning (rather than that it was 'hard to teach cursive', which wasn't what I meant).

It may be coincidence that DS (who moved to the school and picked up cursive at the end of Year 1) is a very, very much better speller than DD.

mrz Thu 25-Oct-12 20:06:58

My personal feeling is that it is best left until the end of Y1 beginning of Y2.

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