Pumpkin 1 got out a bunch of sound containers today to sort out, all on her own. She needed some convincing that “c” and “h” had to stay together for “ch” but after that she sorted everything out herself quite quickly. I think she’s really caught on to beginning sounds. It was great that it was her initiative and she focused and did it all herself. She was so motivated, it wasn’t me coaxing her and trying to keep her on track. That is what I think learning needs to be at this age.
You may wonder why we’re doing cursive first. There are a number of benefits to teaching cursive first rather than print. One is that it’s easier for a child to write cursive. If you look at a child pretending to write, it’s all loop-dee-loops. Print requires a child to take their pen off the paper frequently which is a difficult fine motor skill and print letters all start in different places – at the top, in the middle at the right, to the left. Cursive pretty much always starts in the same place for the lower case letters and the child doesn’t have to take their pen off the paper until the end of a word. Secondly, cursive allows the child to see how a word is made up of letters that go together. If you see a child’s printing, there is usually no spaces between words, everything runs all together and over several lines. Cursive helps the child understand that the letters need to be together and that each word is written separately from other words. Thirdly, cursive triggers other parts of the brain that print doesn’t. Here’s a quote from an article on the importance of cursive:
Yet scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization”(link is external)—that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.
I was worried at first that it might be harder to teach cursive than print, especially since almost all books and writing she sees are in print and she already knew many print letters. However, it hasn’t been difficult at all. She picked up on the letters just as quickly with no confusions as to letters she knew in print.
And what about learning print? In the majority of cases it’s not something you need to formally teach, they just pick it up on their own. Many Montessori homeschooling parents teach to write in cursive and to read in print. We’ll decide what we’ll do when the time comes since in Montessori pedagogy a child learns to write first and reading comes on it’s own.
Teaching reading and writing is the most exciting and important skill they’ll learn since so much other learning comes from the ability to read and write. When you can read, the whole world opens up to you.