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Cursive writing in reception

(42 Posts)
muttmad Sun 05-Nov-17 13:42:30

My daughter (4) is in reception and so far has had a fairly easy ride, she enjoys phonics and basic maths and looked forward to school every day, however they have now started to write the letters and are learning cursive from the start, my poor DD is really struggling, she barely has any pencil control and can’t even draw a recognisable picture yet let alone a legible cursive letter!
She’s gone from a happy, easy going 4 year old who can’t wait to get to school, to a child that cry’s every time we suggest doing her homework or practicing her letters. She’s cried at school and no longer looks forward to going.
She can write the letters in print and has been able to since nursery but this new style is just so alien to her and I’m just so sad for her!
Surely reception should be for a child to develop a life long love of learning, I’m worried this pressure will turn her off learning for good.
When I was a kid we learnt to write joined up at a much older age, and it was fairly easy I just think it’s too much to expect of a 4 year old?

Norestformrz Sun 05-Nov-17 14:31:34

Some schools have taken the decision to teach cursive from the start. The theory being that they don’t have to learn one way (print or semi cursive) then change. Personally I think teaching the correct formation for individual letters with an exit stroke first enables children to quickly move to fully cursive around Y2 ready for KS2.

muttmad Sun 05-Nov-17 14:57:38

After writing my post I did some googling and found this written by a teacher who seems to mirror most of my concerns, I’m not ‘one of those’ parents and I’d never say anything to her teacher etc but I’m genuinely concerned that this might not be good for her and many of her peers 😢

https://abcdoes.com/abc-does-a-blog/2017/07/01/cursive-writing-in-reception-a-good-idea/

waitingforwombat Sun 05-Nov-17 16:58:35

So, whatever your thoughts about cursive writing I would argue that there are wider issues here. She is 4 years old, in reception, following the eyfs curriculum, and is upset about not being able to do something at school. Either the school are being extremely pushy and have totally lost the plot on academics in reception, or it's the first time an able sounding 4 year old has faced a real challenge at school, and finding it (understandably!) tough. I'm 34 and get cross and frustrated when I can't do something!

If the problem is the former you have issues with the school. If the problem is the latter then this is the biggest learning opportunity your daughter has had so far. Some things are really hard, and you won't get them straight away. Sometimes you try really hard, and still don't get them. Resilience, perseverance, courage are massive things to learn, and I'm not saying throw your daughter to the lions at all, but high achieving kids in particular need to learn not to be good at things, and this might be her thing! She is going to need lots of support, encouragement and challenge from your and her teacher so definitely worth chatting to her teacher to let her know how hard dd is finding it.

Its such a difficult balance between appropriate challenge and being a safe learning environment, and it sounds like that isn't quite right at the moment. If that's because the environment is too pushy for 4 year olds, then that is a real issue and completely could turn her off. If it's appropriately challenging whilst supportive then it's a recipe for long term success. (My 4.3 yo dd is the youngest in her class, but a natural "academic" - flying with phonics, reading, spelling, maths etc. She is however noticeably behind the others physically. Her gym class is a real struggle for her but she is learning to love it, despite not being the best because we are really focusing on rewarding her effort and progress - and she is now prepared to give so much more a try as her perfectionist nature is learning its OK to fail and not be the best sometimes!)

CustardDoughnutsRule Sun 05-Nov-17 17:13:52

I think this is one of those things that you just need to roll with. School will have a "house" style, consciously selected, that all children in all classes will be taught and that the teachers will use themselves.

Take the letter "l". Some children will start school without knowing what it looks like, others will know it as a vertical line, others will know to draw the line from top to bottom, others will write it with a following lift up at the end, and children learning cursive will probably be taught the leading in bit at the top as well as the lead out bit at the bottom. Quite a few of those who arrive at school knowing how to form the letter will have some adjustments to make before they are turning out whatever style YR at their school teaches. There tend to be a few more adjustments if they are doing cursive from day 1, but most of them will be adjusting their letter formation one way or another.

It's like teaching phonics - children arrive in YR having learned to say "ell" or "luh" for "l" but for phonics (at our school anyway) they had to relearn it as "llllll". The point is that the correction is done gently and shouldn't be inherently be stressful or causing anxiety.

One of my children learned cursive from the outset and the other printed - same school change of policy. The first one's writing was not very legible for ages but she went through the system just before Mr Gove's changes and it was all relatively laid back. Child 2, printing, has been under more pressure from day 1, expected to write whole sentences earlier etc. Parents moaned about cursive when DC1 was in YR and moaned about pressure when DC2 was there. Just encourage and reassure her, keep it positive, she'll get there either way.

CustardDoughnutsRule Sun 05-Nov-17 17:18:44

Also excellent post from wombat

BewareOfDragons Sun 05-Nov-17 17:24:45

It's inappropriate, imo. Fine motor skills are still being developed at that age, and a lot of children will not have the hand control to print neatly, let alone figure out joined up letters.

IMO, your school has completely lost the plot. (Yes, I work in a primary school, including Reception.)

muttmad Sun 05-Nov-17 17:32:28

Thanks everyone, yes I thought myself that it may be the first time she’s felt tested and doesn’t like not being good at something, I did explain to her that school is all about learning new things and to see it as a challenge, she also knows we will always help her.
I’m more concerned at her physical ability to apply it, she simply hasn’t got the hand control to form the letters, she can print sort of legibly but not in a flow for instance if writing an a she can do a wobbly circle with a wiggly line by it, a y is at the mo a v with a line down from the middle, she can not keep her pen on the paper and create in one move.
I guess all the kids are in the same boat, and I’m sure it will click with her when she’s older, I just hope that her love of school and learning comes back soon as she’s gone from being so happy and confident to a little girl who is worried and sad.
Her other work is suffering as a result as where as before she would sit and read her books or try her maths, now she doesn’t want to know, just says she can’t to it sad

muttmad Sun 05-Nov-17 17:38:02

What I will say is the school itself is excellent and her teacher is lovely, I don’t for a second believe they are putting any pressure on her, I believe she’s putting it on herself as she’s a worrier and a people pleaser, hates to get things wrong etc.

waitingforwombat Sun 05-Nov-17 17:45:08

Mutt - try having a look at relax kids for some useful techniques on managing that anxiety. Also Google growth mindset if it isn't something you already know about.

Fekko Sun 05-Nov-17 17:47:33

I think that DS argued with his poor teacher daily about having to relearn writing in cursive when he was in reception after learning to print in nursery. Even she said that it would be easier to start with one style and stick with it.

They get there eventually.

madamginger Sun 05-Nov-17 17:59:16

My dc school also teaches cursive from reception, but only started when dc3 was in reception 3 years ago.
He’s in year 2 now and he has beautiful handwriting, dc2 started when he was in year 2 and he struggles to remember to join up every letter and dc1 was in year 4 and she can barely write cursive at all.

ReinettePompadour Sun 05-Nov-17 18:12:59

I hate cursive with a passion. My dc went from happily sitting and writing a 2 page story just for fun to point blank refusing to write anything but the bare minimum when the school changed to cursive.

EVERYONE (teachers, school nurse, headteacher, physiotherapist, occupational therapist) told me they will have beautiful writing at the end of it, just persevere and you will notice the difference in a year or 2 hmm . All I can say is they were wrong. The only difference is it takes twice as long to write a word and takes 10x longer to decipher what it is they've actually written.

My DD went from lovely curvy handwriting (non cursive) to a scribbling mess no one can read. Its never improved and she is doing her GCSEs now. Her writing aged 5 was much neater and far more legible than it is now.

DS had really good solid handwriting, swapped onto cursive 8 years ago and again its now a scrawling mess even his teachers struggle to read it. They even mark his work wrong and he gets very upset when he says they just cannot read his cursive writing so mark it wrong even when its actually correct.

Youngest DS only ever wrote cursive, I cant read his writing either and he's always asking why books and texts aren't written in cursive and why should he write in cursive if nothing that he ever reads is in the same font? He has a point. Why bother teaching a way of writing you never see or read and that takes longer to do because of adding all those flicks and swirls?

GU24Mum Sun 05-Nov-17 19:18:34

DC1 started with print script and I remember a grim weekend early on trying to get her to write an "s". DC2 started with cursive and in a logical order (all the similar shape letters first - a, d, g, c etc) but still writes in a very odd way unless he's thinking (crosses his t's backwards etc); DC3 started with cursive and fairly formally and does have great writing. IMO I think cursive isn't a bad option as all the letters start from the same place and once they learn them they don't have to start again half-way through Y1 which one of mine had to.

MsPassepartout Sun 05-Nov-17 19:39:14

DS1’s school teaches them cursive writing from the start too. We had big problems at first around him lacking the physical strength and control needed for handwriting. He’s in Year 1 now, and he is getting better at it, although his handwriting is still behind that of other kids in his class.

There are some things you can try to help children improve fine motor control and build up the muscles in their hands that are used in handwriting - things we were advised to try by the occupational therapist we saw included kneading and rolling playdoh, games where the child uses tweezers or pegs, stringing small beads, Lego, plus hand “warm up” exercises before writing.

GHGN Sun 05-Nov-17 20:26:42

As a secondary school teacher, I hate it with a passion. Impossible to read.
Is there a requirement that all pupils need to know cursive writing? I only want her to know printing but don't really want to argue with school either.

Norestformrz Sun 05-Nov-17 20:30:02

*“*^*Is there a requirement that all pupils need to know cursive writing?*^*”* Yes
There’s also plenty of research showing the benefits unfortunately once they leave primary secondary schools allow them to go back to printing and drawing little hearts over the i

Zebee Sun 05-Nov-17 20:35:52

My son is in reception and is learning precursive (flicks at the start and end of letters) and I can't rate it highly enough and wish dd had learnt like this. Admittedly the difference is that he has only learnt this way but it will make cursive a breeze. His teacher says it is more tricky now but better in the long run.

GHGN Sun 05-Nov-17 22:09:50

There are some research saying the opposite and also some are inconclusive with regards to its benefit to students with dyslexia.
Given the option at secondary school, many students choose printing for a reason even if they have never been taught that before.

There are many requirements that we have to do as teacher but we know have no benefit whatsoever. I am not totally convinced with this yet. I was taught cursive writing as a student and can write beautiful caligraphy text if required. However, I still find printing easiest to write with.

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 05:29:18

Yet all the major dyslexia charities and organisations recommend cursive
https://dyslexiaida.org/why-bother-with-cursive/

Pansiesandredrosesandmarigolds Mon 06-Nov-17 05:31:41

Agree with ‘roll with it’ in general, but fwiw I never learnt cursive. It’s not exactly been an issue.

FurryGiraffe Mon 06-Nov-17 07:06:19

DS1 is 4.5 and in reception. His pencil control isn’t great either and he’s very much ‘if at first you don’t succeed- give up’ by nature. We attempt to counter it with lots of encouragement and praise which is moderately successful. He’s learning pre cursive and not wild about practising letters. It’s a tough balance between encouraging and not making it into a big deal I think. Two things that have helped him a bit. First, a wipe clean ‘learn to write’ book. I think he likes that he can rub it out if he doesn’t think it’s good enough! But also a lot of it is patterns that are similar to writing rather than letters per se, so there’s a page which is drawing coconuts on a tree which to him is more interesting than a row of ‘o’ s but essentially the same thing. The second thing that has helped him is giving him lines to write between. His school phonics book is just blank paper- presumably so they’re not constrained or feel they need to make it a certain size. But DS is much happier with lined paper.

PosiePootlePerkins Mon 06-Nov-17 07:20:43

There are loads of activities your Dd can be doing to help her improve her muscle strength. No good trying to master fine motor skills if her gross motor skills aren't yet developed. She needs strong muscles in her shoulders and arms first. Google 'dough gym' for ideas. Also to help with strength in her fingers google 'hand gym'. Things like squeezing pegs, popping bubble wrap, picking up items with large tweezers etc. This needs to happen first, before she will be able to control a pencil.

muttmad Mon 06-Nov-17 08:21:44

Thanks again everyone, you’ve been so helpful! So much to look at and try 😊 I’ll certainly give all your suggestions a try.

irvineoneohone Mon 06-Nov-17 08:33:22

I think if you do it now, it makes her life so much easier later, when she has to write longer sentences later.
My ds struggled with cursive, and it did affect his writing outcome. He just couldn't produce enough writing within time, and end up staying in to finish work several times.
I wished I pushed him for practicing during early primary.

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