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Continuous handwriting confusion

(40 Posts)
lesshaste Wed 06-Jan-16 20:31:03

I realise this has been discussed before on mumsnet but ... DD's school has just introduced continuous cursive handwriting in the first three years. This is not simply joined up writing but a style that makes every non-capital start from the bottom. Here is an example of the alphabet www.lidgetgreen.net/img/handwriting.png although the exact style of the letters the school has given us appears not to be entirely consistent.

Here are some specific questions I don't understand.

- Is it actually the law that they have to teach this style? Some people seem to claim this.
- Is it intended that the children will carry on writing with a tail before every non-capital forever or are they supposed to drop this flourish when they get older?
- The school claims there is evidence that this style helps children with their spelling and will help them with more legible writing in the future. Is there in fact any evidence for this?

There are a number of things I don't like about this style. One is that the children will never see any adult write in this way, including all the teachers at their school!

LadyPenelope68 Wed 06-Jan-16 22:03:34

You'll find that the teachers will write in this style in the children's books. We have to alter our own writing when marking children's books to ensure that handwriting is consistent throughout the whole School.

It isn't the "law" that they have to use this style, all schools choose what style and adopts this in their literacy policy.

It's up to an individual how they write as they get older! I certainly don't form letters with the "flicks" I was taught at primary, everyone develops their own style. Not quite sure why your concern about this is relevant to how they are taught to form letters.

catkind Thu 07-Jan-16 02:06:07

Do you know any adults who still write in exactly the style they were taught in school?
The lead ins on all letters we found very useful actually. It made letter formation easier for DS - all letters start in the same place with more or less the same stroke, and much harder to confuse d and b. It made joining easy, just fill in the gap, not loads of if this then the other and different joins to learn. It seems to lead into a nice neat uniform style in later primary.
DS moved in year 1 to a school that didn't start with (pre-)cursive, and has basically gone from the worst in the class at writing to one of the best. His classmates are just starting learning to join, he's all done. I wasn't convinced when they started with all those flourishes either, but now I'm a convert.

irvine101 Thu 07-Jan-16 06:25:29

I use this style of handwriting, and my ds's school uses different one.
I always thought his style seems a lot harder to write and difficult to make it look neat. If I had a choice, I would choose to teach my style to him.

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 06:53:17

@LadyPenelope68 Thank you. It seems the teachers haven't learned how to write in this style yet at our school. It is interesting also that it is up to the school which style they choose. I do think the scientific claims might be overblown, at least according to bit.ly/1JYLjCc. See para that starts "It cannot be inferred, of course,[...]".

DD is in the 2nd year and had very nice and clear handwriting. In November 2015 they introduced this continuous cursive handwriting and now it is hard to read what she writes. Because the teachers don't write in this style, the only examples of continuous cursive handwriting she ever sees are from a computer printout and these have a different "f", "x" and "z" each time it seems. Presumably this depends on exactly which version of the continuous cursive font that computer has installed.

@catkind Thanks also. Does your DS do the double loop "f" and start all letters including "z", even at the start of a word, from the bottom line? I suppose our concern is that DD could already write and this has ruined her handwriting. She likes to follow rules exactly and so I will have to explain to her that this isn't really the style of writing she has to do forever. She would like to know what style of handwriting it is meant to lead into though. If she is supposed to drop the leading tails when she can write confidently then I feel she would really like to know that.

Also, I really don't like the "f"s smile

tabulahrasa Thu 07-Jan-16 07:02:06

I write like that...why would she be dropping the lead in later?

LadyPenelope68 Thu 07-Jan-16 07:12:05

Have you seen all your daughters books since November 2015? That's only a few weeks ago in school terms so I doubt it, so unsure how you can say the teachers aren't writing in this style. She will see this style written not only from computer sheets as I am almost certain they will have handwriting practice during which time teaching staff will model this on the board.

Again though I am unclear why you are do focusssed on how she'll write in the future. If she continues to write in this way/ or drops this style does it really matter in the future??

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 07:22:43

@tabulahrasa Thanks. It's good to know that people happily write in this style as adults. Do you put a lead in "zoo" too out of interest and which "f" do you use? There seem to be at least three different "f"s that the school sheets use.

@LadyPenelope68 Yes we had a day where we were invited to see all their writing books. You can also see whiteboards in the school classes with the teachers' handwriting all around. None of it is in this continuous cursive style. Maybe they are still training and this will change.

As DD could already write well and this has made her handwriting more difficult to read, I suppose I wanted some understanding of what the future benefits are meant to be. The alternative is that we try to persuade the school to let her revert to her previous legible and neat handwriting (which is called PENPALS apparently).

tabulahrasa Thu 07-Jan-16 07:34:42

I would do a lead in to zoo, but my z is different, that's closest to how I form my letters.

LadyPenelope68 Thu 07-Jan-16 07:37:09

If that's the style the school are teaching I would very much doubt they will allow your child to write differently simply because you don't like the new style.

Ditsy4 Thu 07-Jan-16 07:59:04

My friend used this method in Reception,by the end of the year the children had the most beautiful joined writing I have ever seen! A few weren't ready to join but I would say two thirds could. It is unusual for children to join their handwriting before KS2 in this country. Some of our children do so in Year 2. The teachers might do a different f, there is discussion about the pros and cons at the staff meeting and a decision is made over adopting certain letters. I had to change my method and now we have changed it again. If You were writing the word maze the z would join from the " bottom line" if it was next to an o it would join across naturally.
Yes, there is evidence that handwriting helps spelling. I teach spelling, we stream our KS2, and I make them work in handwriting books. I have a child this year whose spelling was very poor and his handwriting was very difficult to read last year his progress in both already this year has been amazing. His mum thinks it is helping him too. Years ago I went on a course called Magical Spelling which was inspirational in giving children confidence and gave lots of evidence about handwriting and spelling this included writing in the air which children find fun. I suggest you try this with your DD. Using a whiteboard means the child can practice without worry because if they make a mistake they can quickly rub it out and try again. I always use whiteboards in my teaching lesson. Your child's teacher will demonstrate the method on the board, as Lady P says, before the children begin. The teacher will not write like this in every lesson because it is difficult to change your style as an adult and it would take longer than writing in their own style. There are a lot of books to mark every day after school.
So to answer your questions.
No, it is not law. However it will be the method chosen by the school and it will be expected to be adhered to. The staff will have discussed this at a staff meeting.
Joined handwriting is taught like this in any method. Obviously some, letters will join across like om later on. By using this method early on the children's handwriting will develop quite naturally into joined writing. Most children's handwriting goes backwards before they are able to join.
I have answered the last question previously but yes there is evidence.
By Year 6 your daughter will develop her own style which may change
again when she gets to Secondary. Hope this helps.

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 08:11:08

@Ditsy4 Thank you this is really helpful!

If you don't mind I have some more questions though. At your school does "zoo" have the z start from the bottom line too? Also in "fox", does the f start from the bottom line as well?

I will look at Magical Spelling, thank you.

I think in the end the problem that we have is that they introduced continuous cursive handwriting in November of year 2 where some children, including DD, could already write confidently and neatly in a joined up style. I can see it might make sense for reception children but will see when DS get there soon. However, for DD it has been quite damaging, at least in the short term.

irvine101 Thu 07-Jan-16 08:27:00

I use exactly same as tabulahrasa 's example. The advantage is, once you got used to it, you can write so quickly and still looks beautiful.

redhat Thu 07-Jan-16 08:30:32

I can see how introducing this to children who can already write would be confusing. DSs both had to write like this from day one of reception and were doing joined up by the end of reception. Ds1 now has beautiful handwriting. DS2.. not so good.

caravanista Thu 07-Jan-16 08:36:34

As a professional I too have experience of this style really helping with neatness, spelling and fluency. It's hard when they first start but much harder to learn a 'printed' style in Reception and then to have to relearn 'joined up' writing in Y1 or Y2. Are you going to query how they teach aspects of maths, history etc? The bottom line is, you have to trust the school.

Emochild Thu 07-Jan-16 08:43:17

I don't like the style that starts on the line as it doesn't join letters when they end on a upstroke

Letters such as o don't join to an o as they both start on the bottom line

I learnt the style pictured above and still write like that -I had to relearn for when i'm in school and it feels clunky and disjointed

tabulahrasa Thu 07-Jan-16 08:43:24

I moved when I was 7, I have no clue what handwriting I used before that, but it wasn't that and it did set me back for a bit, but by the time I went to secondary school the teachers could identify which primary is gone to by my writing so it took at some point well before then, lol.

I write really quickly compared to a lot of other people...at uni for instance when taking notes. I have two handwritings, my neat(ish) one for if other people have to read it or messy but perfectly legible to me, the second I can do as someone speaks and only rarely do I not have time to get things down.

I assume that's more to do with my writing than deftness as I'm not what you'd call coordinated with any other activity.

irvine101 Thu 07-Jan-16 09:01:38

Me too, tabulahrasa.
It was real advantage in school, because I can write a lot quicker than other people. And still is, when I'm taking notes at meetings etc.

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 09:33:37

Thanks for all the comments but I am still unclear if people start on the line when writing "fox" or "zoo" for example as adults? Doing this for the first letter in a word is not something I am used to.

As there as so many great comments, the other thing that I am wondering about is how to find good practice books. All the ones I see in bookshops use what they call "penpal". For example www.amazon.co.uk/Handwriting-Practice-Collins-Easy-Learning/dp/0007301030 . Are there any books to practice this continuous cursive style? I can find online sheets from commercial websites for individual letters (again with a lot of inconsistency about "f"s, "z"s and "x"s, but that's about it.

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 09:40:13

@caravanista "Are you going to query how they teach aspects of maths, history etc? The bottom line is, you have to trust the school." Well... I can see this is a dangerous question to answer but... yes if I think they are making a serious mistake. Wouldn't you? Obviously one has to do these things respectfully, gently and thoughtfully but as a general principle, are there no circumstances where you would talk to the school about your child's education?

tabulahrasa Thu 07-Jan-16 09:46:10

Hmm... fox and zoo wouldn't usually be on the line for me normally, but that's laziness rather than a decision, lol.

If I was going for very best neat writing they are on the line.

redhat Thu 07-Jan-16 09:47:24

The point is OP that if as a child you are taught to start on the line then you will always form the letter properly. If as an adult or older child you then choose to drop the first part of the first letter of each word then that is fine but if you teach the letter to a child two ways (one for the start of the word and one for the middle) then they are then far more likely to mix them up and therefore their cursive writing will be less fluent and slower.

I'm unsure why what adults do makes any difference tbh. This is just about teaching your child to join up consistently and fluently and improve her handwriting and spelling.

irvine101 Thu 07-Jan-16 09:55:48

At my ds's school, they give children practice sheet if they want. Can you ask school for it? If the school choose this style, they must have them.

Is your dd not happy about this new style? Or you are the one not happy?
I don't like my ds's handwriting style, but never crossed my mind to question school's choice.

lesshaste Thu 07-Jan-16 10:06:18

@irvine101 As this style is brand new to the school they only have examples of individual letters currently. I was hoping that if it is something standard (I am still not sure what the proper name of the style is) that there might be external resources.

I think it's me that is not happy as she doesn't really notice how much better her handwriting used to be. Children don't really use writing as a form of communication at her school age and her teachers haven't complained.

I suppose my view is coloured by bad experiences in the family where people had to chnage writing style as a child (because of moving country or similar) and their writing never recovered.

catkind Thu 07-Jan-16 10:16:41

Yes all initial letters start on the line at DS school. The particular version they use f is not loopy at the top, but that's really no big deal either way. I think NC does require them to have some kind of joined handwriting. Which particular style doesn't matter as long as they're consistent.

Switching is often difficult, that's why DS is getting on better than his classmates having used this letter style since reception (albeit not initially joining). At his new school they start with printed letters in reception, then just when they're writing neatly with those they start all over again and teach cursive. Does seem a massive drag having to learn twice. Was your DD previously writing printed, or have they actually switched from one kind of cursive to another?

I think there are a few simplifications that come naturally, like joining oo at the top rather than going down to the bottom and up again. As far as I can see they keep doing the initial lead-ins to year 6 here. I guess some children might choose to drop them later.

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