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By the end of K, how should a kid be writing?


daniela_r
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By the end of K/beginning of 1st, what kind of writing output should a kid be doing? Specifically, I'm guessing that it's important for a kid to be able to form upper and lower-case letters correctly. What else? Should a kid be able to write simple (phonetic) words from dictation? How much volume should a child be able to copy in one sitting, like how many short sentences? Do you start working on narration in K, or later? Basically, what writing goals would you have for a kindergartener by the end of the year?

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It depends on the kid. We dropped everything but reading and math then picked up handwriting again toward the end of the year. My boys have been over the entire lower case cursive alphabet and no uppercase letters. They still struggle remembering how to form all their letters and they hate handwriting :-)

 

Sooo, I have them copy short jokes everyday to practice and some days we "test" using "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". That is about as much as I have them do, anymore and they'd revolt.

 

We do spelling with tiles. For my guys trying to spell a word and remember how to correctly form each letter was too much. They would get overly frustrated writing and spelling. They are great spellers, it was sad to see handwriting holding them back.

 

All that to say, one small sentence a day is plenty for my hyper boys.

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I would not start dictation in K--that is asking for listening and remembering and letter formation and spelling and punctuation all in one shot. Somebody who's doing great with letter formation can do a sentence of copywork a day. DS is so-so going into K and I am actually only going to do a sentence of copywork a week (read it on the Monday, then Tuesday arrange it from cut-out pieces, then trace it with highlighter, then probably copy it in sand, and then only actually copy it on paper on Friday). By the end of K, I want him to copy a short sentence comfortably, including capitalization and end marks.

 

Spelling can be done with blocks or tiles, or by choosing the correct spelling from a few choices.

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My only goal for writing in K is that they be able to form upper and lower case letters and write a few words at a time...so maybe a 5 word sentence. Of course, some kids will do more and some will still be really struggling with letter formation. But, I don't start copywork, definitely not dictation or written narration in K. I start short copywork early in 1st and work up. I start written narration about halfway through 1st. Personally, my goals for K are reading focused. The writing will come as those fine motor skills mature and develop.

 

For us, learning phonics is the only "spelling" we do in K or 1st. Master phonics/reading, then spelling.

 

That's just us...we like to keep K a relaxed and gentle start to school...no need to rush. They are still young. They have lots of time. :)

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Thanks for the replies! They were helpful!

 

When I asked about narration, I was actually thinking about oral narration, getting the child to tell you about the passage you just read, hopefully in a complete sentence. Do you work on oral narration in K?

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This blog post has an example of the last page of the Zaner-Bloser K level workbook that Builder Boy finished at the beginning of 1st grade. He moved on to doing his own draw & write pages in a journal. He could draw a picture and write two, sometimes three short sentences that he came up with, with spelling help from me. We did not do diction, exactly, but he would tell me what he wanted to write, and then I would repeat his sentence so he could concentrate on the writing and spelling. He was newly turned 6 years old.
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I wouldn't say I work on it, but it's something that we do somewhat naturally. In K, I probably ask more leading questions than actually having them narrate. I don't really think specifically about having them narrate. In first grade, I do start having them narrate specifically.

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I agree with Heather on the narration. For writing, my dd was copying short Bible verses that she learned in Awana by the end of the year (capital, lower case, correct punctuation by copying). My son was another story, but I think K with my dd was much more realistic. :D

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My expectations would be they should be able to string together a number of sentences on a generally related topic, with neat printing, proper use of initial capitals and ending punctuation. I'd expect a mix of spelling, with mostly correct spelling mixed with some mistakes.

 

Bill

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My expectations would be they should be able to string together a number of sentences on a generally related topic, with neat printing, proper use of initial capitals and ending punctuation. I'd expect a mix of spelling, with mostly correct spelling mixed with some mistakes.

 

Bill

 

No way in h-e-hockey sticks could my kids have done that at the end of kindy.

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My expectations would be they should be able to string together a number of sentences on a generally related topic, with neat printing, proper use of initial capitals and ending punctuation. I'd expect a mix of spelling, with mostly correct spelling mixed with some mistakes.

 

Bill

 

At the end of kindergarten? That would be a tall order for many kiddos. Your kids must have been far ahead of the curve, Bill, and I bet that was kind of fun.

 

I'd say one should generally expect kids to be able to print most of the letters, perhaps still with some pesky reversals, and possibly lots of effort to do so. I'd like to see them trying to write words, but wouldn't worry if they couldn't/wouldn't/couldn't be bothered.

 

Some kids would not be ready to do that, and it wouldn't necessarily indicate a problem. Just like Bill's kids were ahead, some kids will lag for a while in their fine motor skills and will make more progress in first grade.

 

I'd worry if a kid could not write his/her name at all and could not produce any recognizable drawing.

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At the end of kindergarten? That would be a tall order for many kiddos. Your kids must have been far ahead of the curve, Bill, and I bet that was kind of fun.

 

I'd say one should generally expect kids to be able to print most of the letters, perhaps still with some pesky reversals, and possibly lots of effort to do so. I'd like to see them trying to write words, but wouldn't worry if they couldn't/wouldn't/couldn't be bothered.

 

Some kids would not be ready to do that, and it wouldn't necessarily indicate a problem. Just like Bill's kids were ahead, some kids will lag for a while in their fine motor skills and will make more progress in first grade.

 

I'd worry if a kid could not write his/her name at all and could not produce any recognizable drawing.

 

Not just my kid. These are the normal expectations for the end of kindergarten at our elementary school.

 

Bill

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As far as narration for a kindy/1st, I might model it, but wouldn't require them to attempt it unless it was their very own heart's desire.

 

I might let them dictate to me while I wrote their words and then read it back to them. Kids that age usually LOVE that, and it's fun to keep a little book of their dictations. Lots of kids will want to add drawings which you/they can label or write captions for. Maybe if you know they can write a few words (or even just letters), you could let them write that word/letter when you came to it.

 

I'd only start copywork if the child could form the letters correctly and use correct spacing -- and lots of kids this age wouldn't yet be doing those things well.

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Not just my kid. These are the normal expectations for the end of kindergarten at our elementary school.

 

Bill

 

 

I know there are schools that require this, and some kids can do it (possibly many kids in some areas), but I would not make it a general kindergarten requirement. I believe that was what the OP was asking for.

 

I used to teach K, and, in my opinion, requiring this level of language skill as a general expectation would be a mistake.

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No way in h-e-hockey sticks could my kids have done that at the end of kindy.

 

Two of mine could, but no way should that be an expectation for the entire range of kindergartners' abilities. It's pretty normal to not be able to read fluently at the end of kindergarten, and it's pretty hard to write a paragraph correctly when you can't read yet.

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I know there are schools that require this, and some kids can do it (possibly many kids in some areas), but I would not make it a general kindergarten requirement. I believe that was what the OP was asking for.

 

I used to teach K, and, in my opinion, requiring this level of language skill as a general expectation would be a mistake.

 

I'm just saying that this is the expectation (and actuality) of what children are doing in kindergarten here. And this is in a joyful environment. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me. And I don't think it is a mistake, given the quality of writing evidenced in the upper elementary grades.

 

I'm talking about a string of simple sentences in K. Nothing fancy.

 

Bill

 

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Two of mine could, but no way should that be an expectation for the entire range of kindergartners' abilities. It's pretty normal to not be able to read fluently at the end of kindergarten, and it's pretty hard to write a paragraph correctly when you can't read yet.

 

Being able to read fluently is also the expectation (and reality) of kindergarten here. I don't think the string of loosely related sentences would quite meet the standards of being a "paragraph," but working towards it.

 

Bill

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Older went to B&M kindergarten and the district had the same expectations as Bill's (SpyCar) child's school. Does not mean that every child will meet it and students are still promoted if they fail writing. Younger did kindergarten as a public schooler with the virtual academy and expectations were the same.

 

Some kindergarten samplers to look at to give OP a better idea of the range of expectations.

http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/teachlearn/commoncore/elaappendixckinder.pdf

http://www.readingrockets.org/looking_at_writing/kindergarten/writing_sample_1/

This is from Canada but too cute not to include

http://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/files/K-12/Curriculum/english-language-arts/Feb-2010/Kindergarten-Writing-Samples.pdf

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Based on what my older kids did in public K and what my younger kids have done for home K. I would say form all upper and lower case letters. Neatly write own name, and those of family members. Be able to copy a short sentence onto plain paper or specialty paper but not regular lined paper. Kids at the end of K are still only 5. They are still working on mechanics of letter formation, uniform sizing etc. Once they have those things down then start WWE 1 or whatever writing program you choose. For my older kids that was basically the extent of their K writing in ps. The first 1/2-2/3 of the year was purely on letter formation, last portion on copying down simple phrases, etc as they began their phonics work beyond letter sounds.

 

ds9 still struggles with letter formation and uniform shaping etc. Turned out after his assessment that he has pretty much no depth perception, tracking and convergence issues etc. So even though he is going into grade 4 he is still at a basic level of writing.

 

dd5 is just finishing up he K level at home. She can write her name, to, from, mom, and attempts to write other words though she is at the stage of omitting all vowels. I am just starting her on copywork. Up until now the formal focus has been on formation, and informally she would ask how to spell something she wanted to write and I would dictate the letters to her. Next year at home she will be doing WWE 1, she may be going to ps K twice a week and they will be at letter formation and sounds for most of the year based on what the teacher told me at orientation day.

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It wouldn't have been joyful for my poor anxiety-ridden kid to have to meet that standard in K. Our kindy days would have been all tears. I'm aware that if he'd been in ps (well, not our public schools, but perhaps the ones a bit north of us in MD) that might well have been the expectation. And he would have been labeled as behind or with a learning disability or something. Which would have been completely unnecessary. He would have shut down. And now he wouldn't be my kid who talks about wanting to be a writer when he grows up, whose favorite part of school is writing.

 

The expectations for writing are that kids be able to write at a high level early in ps. Having writing taught at the secondary level, I have never seen any overall payoff from that. I always thought the whole model was upside down - too much too fast, not enough later on.

 

Of course, different things work for different kids. Different paths. Hopefully, the end goal is similar. But that end goal is so far down the road when you're talking about kindergarten.

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If the kids can do it (spell, write sentences, read for understanding) and do it joyfully, that's great! I am certainly not saying they should be held back.

 

But if they can't, I don't think it's a big deal at all.

 

Lots of schools (and parents) decide that 'real writing' needs to be happening or something is wrong with the child.

 

I completely disagree.

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It wouldn't have been joyful for my poor anxiety-ridden kid to have to meet that standard in K. Our kindy days would have been all tears. I'm aware that if he'd been in ps (well, not our public schools, but perhaps the ones a bit north of us in MD) that might well have been the expectation. And he would have been labeled as behind or with a learning disability or something. Which would have been completely unnecessary. He would have shut down. And now he wouldn't be my kid who talks about wanting to be a writer when he grows up, whose favorite part of school is writing.

 

The expectations for writing are that kids be able to write at a high level early in ps. Having writing taught at the secondary level, I have never seen any overall payoff from that. I always thought the whole model was upside down - too much too fast, not enough later on.

 

Of course, different things work for different kids. Different paths. Hopefully, the end goal is similar. But that end goal is so far down the road when you're talking about kindergarten.

 

My experience is "narrow," but I spent a ton of time in my son's kindergarten class as a parent volunteer, and what I saw was an amazing, fun, and joyful learning experience. None of the kids were stressed out. It was not punitive. Quite to the contrary. It was active, and busy, and creative.

 

And like any classroom there were students with "issues," from motor-delays to autism spectrum. Everyone progressed, and was treated with kindness and respect. Nobody shut down, nobody folded.

 

And I see what students at this school are doing writing-wise by 5th Grade and am very impressed.

 

Not all schools are crushing. Really.

 

Bill

 

 

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If the kids can do it (spell, write sentences, read for understanding) and do it joyfully, that's great! I am certainly not saying they should be held back.

 

But if they can't, I don't think it's a big deal at all.

 

Lots of schools (and parents) decide that 'real writing' needs to be happening or something is wrong with the child.

 

I completely disagree.

 

I'd agree that if they can't, they can't. And respect that.

 

But I also think kid's can do an awful lot when they are creatively engaged. So, I'd rather start with high-expectations, and engage a child in a fun-filled learning approach and then adjust downward if the expectations prove unreasonable, rather that to consign myself to low expectations from the start.

 

I don't think, based on my experience, that expecting a child to string a few imperfect (but not that imperfect) sentences together at the end of kindergarten is unreasonable. And if they can't, you meet them where they are.

 

That's just me.

 

Bill

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I would love to come observe in a K classroom like that. It sounds like your child had an excellent teacher who really nurtured the kids.

 

I never taught in an area where that many of my students were ready for academics. Often, many of them still needed to learn colors and shapes and very beginning ABCs. I always had a few who were really ready to read and write (or already doing it) and it was very exciting to see their progress and enthusiasm. I often wished I could do more for them, but with a room full of kids not sure of what what a number and what was a letter, it was a real challenge to accommodate all of them.

 

That's why we homeschool. :)

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For the end of K, I would expect kids to be able to write all numbers and upper and lower case letters without a model. I would not expect it to be neat and perfect. I'd expect them to copy a few sentences accurately before getting too tired. I would expect them to attempt to spell cvc words and to do a reasonably good job at it. I would expect them to be able to draw a picture and attempt to write about it. What they write could vary from a few sentences of pretty good quality to some letters that show an attempt at spelling if you use your imagination. The PS classrooms I've seen have encouraged creative spelling (shudder), so kids are pushed to write more than they can write well. I'd expect they'd attempt some kind of punctuation but I wouldn't expect that they'd consistently get it correct. At the end of K, I'd expect they would try and that I could mostly figure out what their sentences/words mean.

 

Those would be my expectations for the average K student based on the schools my kids attended. I would hope for more, but wouldn't be worried if their achievement was a little less. For reading- it could run a wide range. I'd expect progress and leave it at that.

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I would love to come observe in a K classroom like that. It sounds like your child had an excellent teacher who really nurtured the kids.

 

The best!

 

She retired last year. What a loss! But she, my wife, and I remain friends. And she still comes to school to mentor and volunteer. All the K teachers are great. They have their own little club inside the school that no one messes with.

 

While maybe I could imagine (sort of) re-creating what happens in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Grade at home, there is no conceivable way I could dream of re-creating anything like the experience these K kids had. The days were packed with fun, and learning, and a lot of coloring—and activity whose importance I did not understand at first, I must admit—and stories, and math labs...it was great!

 

I never taught in an area where that many of my students were ready for academics. Often, many of them still needed to learn colors and shapes and very beginning ABCs. I always had a few who were really ready to read and write (or already doing it) and it was very exciting to see their progress and enthusiasm. I often wished I could do more for them, but with a room full of kids not sure of what what a number and what was a letter, it was a real challenge to accommodate all of them.

 

The school is in an upper income area, with well-educated and involved parents. It makes a difference. A good portion of the kids (most) were reading on some level before starting school. They were not learning their colors and A, B, Cs.

 

I know there can be a reflex (not necessarily with you) that if kids know this stuff in nursery school that people think they must be missing out on a childhood, or unduly stressed with developmentally inappropriate work. I saw nothing of the kind. Just a bunch of happy well-adjusted kids. A few with challenges, that were well met with positive compensations and activities.

 

I know this sounds rosy, but we had a great experience.

 

Bill

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I don't think all schools are crushing by a long shot, but I do find it hard to conceive that in a large group of five year olds that every kid could meet that standard without stress and without shutting down. This may be coming from my bias of having taught professionally and mostly worked with older kids who had been really crushed by their elementary school experiences though - often because they were perfectionists or GT/LD kids, who are all a notorious bunch for shutting down and just stopping.

 

I think I have pretty good expectations of my kids and that I'm a pretty decent, creative teacher. I don't think my kids have low IQ's or any delays. They still could not have met that standard. End of story.

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I don't think all schools are crushing by a long shot, but I do find it hard to conceive that in a large group of five year olds that every kid could meet that standard without stress and without shutting down.

Just to clarify that for California, the state standardised writing test is in 4th grade and 7th grade. The K to 3rd grade teachers aren't going to stress the kids to meet the state standards for the respective grades. The 4th grade teachers would be more stressed over LA (multiple choice questions) and Math than for writing. I just check and the results of the state standardised writing tests are not reported in the STAR results. So the public won't know how well a school or district did for that. Language Arts scores are reported.

Unless there is a change of plans, California's common core version of state testing would start at 3rd grade so kindergarteners would still be having a good time sans state testing.

ETA:

Both of my boys marginally meet state standards. Their teachers did not bat an eyelid.

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Well, I have volunteered extensively in my son's PS K year and this is what I know - The children all went to preschools - some to academic preschools and some to developmental play based preschools. All of them knew upper and lower case letters and letter sounds at the beginning of the school year. They started out writing words and then simple sentences. By mid year, they were working on capitalization, punctuation etc. By the end of the year, they were writing paragraphs using the "Step up to writing" method. For the K open house event, they created so many crafts on underwater animals and wrote a paragraph each on sharks, dolphins, otters etc and displayed them on all the walls - a very impressive sight to me. They also had comprehension exercises where they were asked to write simple sentences to answer questions from a story. And they were doing phonics, spelling and dictation (3 and 4 letter words). Every week's homework also included a section where they had to draw a picture and write a paragraph of 5 simple sentences about the picture - for e.g. draw and write about your favorite form of exercise etc.

And yes, they encouraged creative spelling (and I discourage it at home).

We are in a high performing school district in a well educated neighborhood and the expectations from the schools are sky high with very pushy PTAs who demand more homework, Tiger parents who challenge the teachers and send kids to academic afterschool programs and the need of the school administrators to keep up the school's high scores - so our experience may not be the same as other schools.

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Well, I have volunteered extensively in my son's PS K year and this is what I know - The children all went to preschools - some to academic preschools and some to developmental play based preschools. All of them knew upper and lower case letters and letter sounds at the beginning of the school year. They started out writing words and then simple sentences. By mid year, they were working on capitalization, punctuation etc. By the end of the year, they were writing paragraphs using the "Step up to writing" method. For the K open house event, they created so many crafts on underwater animals and wrote a paragraph each on sharks, dolphins, otters etc and displayed them on all the walls - a very impressive sight to me. They also had comprehension exercises where they were asked to write simple sentences to answer questions from a story. And they were doing phonics, spelling and dictation (3 and 4 letter words). Every week's homework also included a section where they had to draw a picture and write a paragraph of 5 simple sentences about the picture - for e.g. draw and write about your favorite form of exercise etc.

And yes, they encouraged creative spelling (and I discourage it at home).

We are in a high performing school district in a well educated neighborhood and the expectations from the schools are sky high with very pushy PTAs who demand more homework, Tiger parents who challenge the teachers and send kids to academic afterschool programs and the need of the school administrators to keep up the school's high scores - so our experience may not be the same as other schools.

 

 

Sounds much like our school, except for parents demanding more homework. On this there is a definite split. Many parents push for less homework, but there are some on the other side too.

 

We had one very interesting evening when, as a school event, we screened the film "Race to Nowhere" for parents at FOX Studios. The school Principal and quite a few teachers were in attendance. For those who have not seen the film, a main theme of the film is that there is too much homework in the schools.

 

When the lights went up after the screening the Principal started fielding questions. Many parents, especially native-born Americans, were pretty fired up about the issue, but the Principal kept her cool under tough questioning. Finally she said that for every parent who thought there was "too much homework" she had other parents coming in thinking there was too little.

 

Well this comment opened the floodgates, as those in the audience who felt that way (and had been holding their tongues) started speaking up. Most of these parents were educated elsewhere: France, Russia, Iran, India, Japan, China, etc.

 

The foreign-born parents mostly thought the amount of homework, and American work ethics, are a joke, and it was no wonder to them why we are a nation in decline.

 

It was a pretty interesting evening :D

 

Bill

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It totally depends on the child. My DD refused to write ANYTHING till she hit 7. It took her 2 years just to be able to write her letters legibly and not backwards. She is just starting to get stamina now and progressing quickly but she is probably at beginning 1st grade level (about 6 months behind her actual grade level).

 

My DS on the other hand is 5 and in Kindy and can out write his sister. He has beautiful handwriting, good spelling and good stamina. He can write about 3-4 sentences. He does copy work from WWE as well as spelling and dictation.

 

So long as they are progressing they are doing fine. Keep samples of their work so it's easier to see the progression. There is a huge variance of capability at this age.

 

 

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Well this thread took off!

 

My boys will be starting 1st grade in August and they can't write uppercase letters and are hit or miss on lowercase letters. They are not fluent readers. I am not panicking.

 

You see we've been in "the system." They both have a "delevopmentally delayed" label in their medical records. I got fed up with "the system" and started refusing serices years ago.

 

Here's what my 6 yr old boys CAN do:

Ride a bicycle without training wheels from age 2, even though they didn't walk till >15 months.

Sort, inventory and assemble Lego technic sets for ages 16+, all I help with is opening the plastic packages and occasionally pulling stuck pieces apart.

They are at a 3rd grade math level, we do everything orally or on computer.

They can cook, yes COOK, their breakfast.

They do their own laundry.

They will bathe, dress and otherwise care for their 3 yr old sister because they want to.

In the realm of science their understanding of concepts will boggle your mind.

 

While I'm sure they have the fine motor skills to write they do not have the desire. They also struggle with reading. I have no doubt they will catch up. Some of the greater minds in history were late bloomers namely Einstein and Edison. Archimedes didn't start formal educational instruction till he was older, we all know how that turned out!

 

While my boys may never be an Einstein or Edison they have a few things in common: they are curious, they have been negatively labeled by the academic establishment, and they have an involved mother willing to ignore the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my district, the expectation is that the kids will be able to write a sentence at the end of kindergarten. I observed at the end of this school yer and saw their work. Some kids were writing in all caps (despite using HWOT K), lots had words crammed together without spaces, many didn't have punctuation. Some examples were legible and some not. Some teachers still relied heavily on word banks and examples, and others allowed free writing. The kids all have journals they use occasionally (some teachers had kids writing every day; other teachers were barely touching them - and what they did do was very pitiful).

 

It is an easy decision to homeschool after that. Low expectations combined with hit or miss instruction ... I can do much better.

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Sounds much like our school, except for parents demanding more homework. On this there was a definite split. Many parents were pushing for less homework, but some on the other side too.

 

Well this comment opened the floodgates, as those in the audience who felt that way (and had been holding their tongues) started speaking up. Most of these parents were educated elsewhere: France, Russia, Iran, India, Japan, China, etc.

 

The foreign-born parents mostly thought the amount of homework, and American work ethics, are a joke, and it was no wonder to them why we are a nation in decline.

 

Bill, due to the nature of the economy in my area, most of the families in my son's school district are educated elsewhere and expect different things from their kids. They also are sadly able to compare the curriculum in their native countries for math and science with the curriculum in my local PS and the comparison does not look good at all - for e.g. in India, a child who is 6 years old can do multiplication, fractions and 3 digit subtraction mentally and have formal "Social Studies", Geography, Science courses. Same in China.

And some of these parents are frankly disgusted when their child tells them that they spelt 2 rhyming words, traced a letter and drew a picture and colored it - and that is what transpired all day long in K. They panic and take their child to academic afterschool programs to "compensate" for the slacking in school :)

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I've had two finish K so far. My older DS could write fairly well by that time. His reading was good, although he still needed to work on fluency.

 

DS6 knows all letter sounds and can read CVC words plus a few more. He can make all his letters and numbers, but his fine motor skills are not as good as his brother's, so he often asks me how to make a letter or number or asks to see a model of it. I think he mostly lacks confidence in his own abilities, and I'm looking forward to seeing a ton of progress in his first grade year.

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At dd's school the kids learn letter formation early in the year then move onto spelling words and then start doing copy work sentences. They are doing a few sentences by the end of the year. Any mistakes are corrected but it is expected they will have some spelling mistakes. They are expected to form letters correctly and have decent handwriting. At the public school I think they expect kids to write several sentences but they do less copywork and don't correct mistakes and expect the kids to do invented spelling. They also don't care as much about letter formation or fixing backwards handwriting.

 

My dd is able to do copywork really easily and she is pretty good at writing her own sentences but her writing is less advanced then her speaking. Her spelling is good but she makes mistakes sometimes also. She sometimes forgets punctuation or capitalization rules in her writing. I just started oral narration with her towards the end of kindergarten. She is getting better at answering in complete sentences now and can do simple comprehension workbooks for 1st graders and the comprehension worksheets from her school with no problem but has a harder time with questions in WWE and sometimes gets those wrong. For her school questions where she needs to answer in sentences I have her answer me in a sentence then walk her through writing her sentence since she can't spell everything yet. She seems to comprehend better when she reads herself then when I do. She can decode fluently at a really high level but her comprehensions isn't as high as her ability to decode. She she seems to understand stuff at a 2nd grade level but stuff higher than that or some of the stuff in WWE she will not always answer all the questions. My almost 5 year old on the other hand is no where near being able to write or do copywork but excels at oral narration and can answer all the narration questions in WWE. I think he would have no problem doing kindergarten this year if he made the cut off but I know he couldn't handle the handwriting demands of dd's school yet.

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I have been trying to find out about writing a lot as many countries differ in what they expect not just in kindergarten but through elementary. I found my own books from grade 1 and 2 - I went to a good academic school and the standards for our country have dropped by at least 2 grade levels since I went to school which is shocking.

 

Based on what I have seen mostly of American standards on the internet and what we were doing in our own school decades ago, I would expect my child by the end of K to be able to form her letters but not necessarily on lined paper. I actually do believe that using lines with kindergarteners is not a good idea - it is too much to remember when letter formation is so important and it expects a level of fine motor control that is not accessible to that age so that they are set up for untidy writing by expecting it before they are able. My own kindergartener has moved to lines halfway through kindergarten but she had more than a year and a half of writing without lines or writing on a line before between lines. I would also expect that she knows something about capitalization and full stops, that she knows what a complete sentence is and writes in complete sentences (if she is writing sentences) and that certainly by the end of first grade that she can string together a few sentences on a topic.

 

I would also expect better handwriting than I am seeing in almost all samples of American kindergarten and first grade writing - I feel that handwriting is badly taught - and I think the issue is that children are doing copywork without being taught how to form letters - I would spend a lot more time on proper letter formation, fine motor skills, holding a pencil correctly and sitting correctly when writing to avoid these problems. I would expect them to be able to write their name neatly and correctly.

 

Because kindergarten is essentially the new first grade I would also teach spelling or at minimum have a word wall that my child could copy off if I was expecting original writing rather than just copywork. I would continue handwriting instruction throughout the elementary years and I would expect it on top of copywork - not copywork as handwriting practice.

 

My own DD is halfway through kindergarten, but is advanced. She can write a sentence or two on a topic with correct capitalization and punctuation, is spelling reasonably well (we have covered a lot of spelling groups and rules) and writes in the lines now. She is capable of about a 10 word sentence of copywork (I wouldn't push beyond this at this stage) and can do her own writing too after drawing a picture.

 

For narration I would start as for WWE1 - what is one thing you remember about this passage and I would also sometimes do comprehension exercises where they answer orally specific questions about a passage/book.

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I have to wonder how many kids are redshirted at Bill's school...

 

My own expectations are based on what my oldest's K teacher expected at private school. There, K started with learning letters and numbers. My son could already read independently, but most of the kids were not reading yet at all, and those who were were mostly reading CVC words and such. The goal for writing at the end of K was to be able to copy a short sentence. There was no expectation of original writing. Just copying a short sentence. AND... the kids still had very mixed upper and lowercase letters at that point. The K teacher did not focus on that.

 

In first grade, the teacher became very strict about proper writing of sentences with capital letter at the beginning, lowercase the rest of the way (except for proper nouns), and a period at the end. She had them do journals every day as well. I have my son's journal. Half of it is just the writing prompt copied from the board. He was NOT ready to write original sentences.

 

And here's the thing... It's ok to not be stringing sentences together in K. My son definitely couldn't do that in K. But in 3rd grade, he had no problem writing an original paragraph, and it was a STRONG paragraph. Recently I looked at some workbooks found free online (I have no clue where, so don't ask me!). One of them was Daily 6 Trait Writing. That's supposed to be well regarded, right? I looked at the example paragraphs for 4th grade, which my son just started. I could not in good conscience use that book with him. The examples are such awful writing! His writing (despite being writing phobic!) is so much better than that. He has more complex sentences, better vocabulary, and more interesting ideas. Why? Because he's well read, first of all, but also because I didn't push original writing early on. We did copywork and dictation plus oral narration. With the narration being oral, he was able to come up with complex ideas even if he couldn't spell them. ;) Now it's all coming together, and he's able to write down those ideas. They don't sound like a 4 year old talking. :tongue_smilie:

 

An example of the workbook mentioned above:

 

Leonard Saves the Day was the book I got. Leonard is the main character. He is a bear that rides scooter around town. He helps people. In the end, Leonard saves Mayor Jones from Mr. Badman, an evil wizard.

 

Seriously, that sounds like my just-turned-4-year-old talking. I want my 4th grader to write better than that.

 

Anyway, I have a 1st grader who just started. He is not advanced in reading like his big brother was, so he couldn't string sentences together either (though he'd like to!). He can copy a sentence pretty easily. I am now requiring him to use proper upper/lower case usage in copywork. He's doing very well. He won't be writing an original sentence anytime soon, but next year, I'm sure he'll be able to. I think once he's reading independently, he'll start writing stories. He loves to write! He just can't spell yet, since he's still learning to read. :) I'm in no hurry. He does WWE1, and he's learning to do oral narrations. We're building a foundation here. Once he has a good foundation, he'll likely take off.

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I just skimmed this thread. Gotta say, our local kindy is like Bill's. The kids write 4-7 sentence paragraphs about a topic. There is a bit of the work done together, plenty of cues and help along the way; but they most certain do it. The kids who are further behind may only do 3 or 4 sentences. Their handwriting may be challenging. They may only spell key words (sight words, words on the overhead, etc) correctly. But they all do it. And many of the kids do it in 15 minutes with ease.

 

Now, I don't think it is NECESSARY or even particularly beneficial. It also doesn't seem that 3rd graders are doing any better/more though the Kinders are. This seems to be a trend in our school. They have kids doing amazing things in Kindy. In 1st grade, the pace and level also seem advanced, fast paced, etc. But by 3rd grade, the kids are just where you'd expect 3rd grade public school kids to be (which is behind where I want MY kids if they are capable). So what is the point?

 

So at home? My just-ended-Kindy kiddo is beyond the minimal expected to leave kindy in our school; but not nearly where he could have been had he attended school. Of course, he also didn't spend from 7:10 am to 3:15 pm away from home, enjoyed a more developmentally appropriate childhood, got to do some neat "field trips," played hard, read a lot, learned to attach with his mom (something specific for us, obviously), and dropped his anxiety level by about 90%. And I expect he'll bypass the PS 3rd graders in the next year or so (just going based on this individual kid). I'm fine with that.

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Okay, my kid just finished K (in PS), and he may be exceptional (or not, his intelligence seems to change every five minutes), but these were his LA skills at the end of the school year:

 

1) Writing upper and lower case in block letters. He would sometimes mix in "small caps" or do reversals, but largely because of concentration issues.

 

2) Write all numbers and their names (five, etc.).

 

3) Spell about 50 words from the Dolch list by heart (sometimes).

 

4) Create a sentence with a beginning capital letter, capitalized names, and ending punctuation.

 

5) Recognize simple nouns and verbs.

 

6) Create and write a story of 5-8 sentences, with accompanying illustrations (creative spelling allowed).

 

7) Illustrated story sequencing.

 

8) Independently read aloud Beginning Reader books, such as Elephant and Piggie.

 

9) Ability to read silently.

 

 

What I have been working on with him over the past month (yes, I started the Monday after PS ended, for various reasons, he'll get time off later):

 

1) Oral narration. I read an Aesop Fable and I ask him to tell me what happened. I heavily direct his sequencing of events.

 

2) Handwriting, switching to D'Nealian. He does the copywork/illustration page every other day (link in my sig). I expect this to be nearly perfect.

 

3) AAS with tiles + spelling the words on paper from my oral instruction. I expect neat handwriting here. We're about to start the "cold" dictation spelling. So far there have been no mistakes in his phonetic-based spelling.

 

4) Oral storytelling. I'm trying to break the creative spelling problem.

 

5) A small amount of writing/notebooking for his other subjects. I'm more lenient on handwriting and spelling here.

 

6) If the Aesop Fable for the day is short I have him read it out loud (we use Winter's book, and I assist his pronunciation of unfamiliar words). I at least make him read the title and the ending moral.

 

7) Continuing to read Elephant and Piggie books (he really likes them) with large amounts of emotion. Occasionally I mix in other books from the Mensa For Kids list with a reading level of 1.5-2.5 and ask him to read it aloud, which he can do if it's not too long (about 100 words seems to be his limit right now).

 

 

Every kid is different, I know. But that's where my kid is at.

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I have to wonder how many kids are redshirted at Bill's school...

 

There are a few, but it is not prevalent.

 

Most are cases of transfers in from elite private schools (who do not accept boy "summer babies" in their Kindergarten classes). We have a "summer baby" too, he started K as a recently turned 5 year old. He does have a few boys in his grade level who are a year (or more) older than him, but otherwise the distribution is pretty normal. This includes kids who turned 5 way after the new cut-off (which IMS is now September), so we had kids who did not turn 5 until November or December.

 

My own expectations are based on what my oldest's K teacher expected at private school. There, K started with learning letters and numbers. My son could already read independently, but most of the kids were not reading yet at all, and those who were were mostly reading CVC words and such.

 

Most kids in our Kindergarten went to preschool. Some to "academic preschools," some (like us) went to "developmental" preschools, and many went to schools that fell somewhere in between.

 

The kids knew their shapes, and colors, and numbers, and a fair number were reading—from a majority who were reading simple CVC books to those who were more advanced.

 

The goal for writing at the end of K was to be able to copy a short sentence. There was no expectation of original writing. Just copying a short sentence. AND... the kids still had very mixed upper and lowercase letters at that point. The K teacher did not focus on that.

 

This was not how things were when I went to school. In those days K was like today's nursery school and reading did not start until First Grade.

 

In first grade, the teacher became very strict about proper writing of sentences with capital letter at the beginning, lowercase the rest of the way (except for proper nouns), and a period at the end. She had them do journals every day as well. I have my son's journal. Half of it is just the writing prompt copied from the board. He was NOT ready to write original sentences.

 

Capitalizing the initial letter (and proper nouns) and using the correct ending punctuation was a prime goal of the writing in Kindergarten. I can't say they were "strict" about it (in a mean way), but it was constantly reinforced and corrected, if the usage was wrong.

 

One obvious tendency of the sentence writing was heavy use of the first person pronoun. Many sentences like, "I went to the park," or "I like to play baseball." Mid-year I banished (with a few exceptions) the first person pronoun from the writing homework (lessons that usually included drawing a picture to accompany the child produced text).

 

And here's the thing... It's ok to not be stringing sentences together in K. My son definitely couldn't do that in K.

 

I'm not saying is isn't OK. I'm just saying these are the expectations at the neighborhood public school my son attends. Again, these are not "strong paragraphs," but loosely related sentences that are more or less on topic.

 

But in 3rd grade, he had no problem writing an original paragraph, and it was a STRONG paragraph. Recently I looked at some workbooks found free online (I have no clue where, so don't ask me!). One of them was Daily 6 Trait Writing. That's supposed to be well regarded, right? I looked at the example paragraphs for 4th grade, which my son just started. I could not in good conscience use that book with him. The examples are such awful writing! His writing (despite being writing phobic!) is so much better than that. He has more complex sentences, better vocabulary, and more interesting ideas. Why? Because he's well read, first of all, but also because I didn't push original writing early on. We did copywork and dictation plus oral narration. With the narration being oral, he was able to come up with complex ideas even if he couldn't spell them. ;) Now it's all coming together, and he's able to write down those ideas. They don't sound like a 4 year old talking. :tongue_smilie:

 

Having just finished Third Grade, I would say most of the kids are still working towards writing "strong" paragraphs, but that the skill is a "work in progress." They had developed an understanding of having topic sentences followed by sentences offering supporting detail. In Forth Grade they hammer on this.

 

Seriously, that sounds like my just-turned-4-year-old talking. I want my 4th grader to write better than that.

 

Anyway, I have a 1st grader who just started. He is not advanced in reading like his big brother was, so he couldn't string sentences together either (though he'd like to!). He can copy a sentence pretty easily. I am now requiring him to use proper upper/lower case usage in copywork. He's doing very well. He won't be writing an original sentence anytime soon, but next year, I'm sure he'll be able to. I think once he's reading independently, he'll start writing stories. He loves to write! He just can't spell yet, since he's still learning to read. :) I'm in no hurry. He does WWE1, and he's learning to do oral narrations. We're building a foundation here. Once he has a good foundation, he'll likely take off.

 

The advantage of home education is you can tailor teaching to the individual child and his or her development. On the other hand, I think there can be a positive motivator in having high peer group expectations in the classroom that can gets kids to stretch their abilities.

 

Bill

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We've just finished K this year. My expectations for writing are being able to form all the upper and lower case letters. Able to spell developmentally appropriate words phonetically. Which words a child spells should relate to their reading level. So for my son that's some sight words and some 4 letter words. He's still working on reading and understanding the concepts of silent e at the end of a word etc. Some K children will be ahead or behind this and that would be normal. My oldest was ahead of this at the end of his K year.

 

I would also expect a K child to be able to copy a short sentence. But the copywork should be something they are also able to read. I would expect them to understand and use correctly simple punctuation and correct use of capital letters.

 

I agree with Bill in that I would expect a K child to be able to "tell" a story, but I would not expect a K child to write a "string of sentences" alone and independently. I would have a child tell me the story and I would then write that "string of sentences" down for him. Then the child could read back his own words or use them as copywork. If a child wanted to write that much alone and independently, of course I would support it. But no way would I require it. Being able to orally tell a grammatically correct story is a different animal than writing it down. That could be a lot of stress for a little hand. I also expect a k child to understand simple subject and predicate sentence structure.

 

Personally I don't look at the early years (K-3rd) as separate years with separate requirements. I look at those years as a whole developmental phase in two parts (age 3-6 and age 6-9). Those years are when children are learning to read, write, and spell. Also working on math skills. These skills are going to get repeated and reviewed and reinforced throughout these early years in deeper and more thorough ways.

 

Children can be in various places in these subjects. But what I look for is a steady growth and progression forward. The idea that all children who share a birth year should be at a certain place each year by May is asinine.

 

I don't care what the PS schools are doing personally. What they are usually doing is looking for boxes to tick to promote to the next grade, and usually pushing skills down into the lower grades to prepare for the passing of a test.

 

It doesn't translate into what a homeschool family is doing living their life and learning over the course of years rather than a few months set aside for "school."

 

ETA; The main reason I wouldn't expect a young K child to do this independently is that it's too mental. It could be really difficult for a young child to mentally "see" and keep track of what they are wanting to write. They would then have to think about letter formation, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation. That is inappropriate to require of 4 and 5 year olds IMHO.

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Older went to B&M kindergarten and the district had the same expectations as Bill's (SpyCar) child's school. Does not mean that every child will meet it and students are still promoted if they fail writing. Younger did kindergarten as a public schooler with the virtual academy and expectations were the same.

 

Some kindergarten samplers to look at to give OP a better idea of the range of expectations.

http://www.ode.state...ndixckinder.pdf

http://www.readingro...iting_sample_1/

This is from Canada but too cute not to include

http://www.ece.gov.n...ing-Samples.pdf

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My expectations would be they should be able to string together a number of sentences on a generally related topic, with neat printing, proper use of initial capitals and ending punctuation. I'd expect a mix of spelling, with mostly correct spelling mixed with some mistakes.

 

Bill

I agree. This is the standard at our local elementary school (urban, East coast) and it was the standard when I was teaching public school (a suburban Midwest school, a working class school in the deep South, and a high-poverty, all minority inner-city school in the deep South).

My experience is "narrow," but I spent a ton of time in my son's kindergarten class as a parent volunteer, and what I saw was an amazing, fun, and joyful learning experience. None of the kids were stressed out. It was not punitive. Quite to the contrary. It was active, and busy, and creative.

 

And like any classroom there were students with "issues," from motor-delays to autism spectrum. Everyone progressed, and was treated with kindness and respect. Nobody shut down, nobody folded.

 

And I see what students at this school are doing writing-wise by 5th Grade and am very impressed.

 

Not all schools are crushing. Really.

 

Bill

Beautifully put! When I taught at an inner-city school in the deep South, we had many children come to kindergarten without even knowing a single letter. The lucky ones had gotten a year of Head-Start, but some children had never been read a book before. The expectation was that every child would be sounding out CVC words and writing out a sentence or two by the end of the year. Nearly every child could do it. They were not crushed. They were proud of their accomplishments. Literacy is a joyful, empowering experience.

 

I fully support meeting a child where he is. You know your child best and homeschooling allows you to meet those individual needs. However, I’m afraid there is a tendency within the homeschool community to have very low expectations in the area of writing. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it is something to be aware of as homeschoolers.

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Ugh! I am having trouble quoting an individual post and responding to it. I was trying to particularly thank Arcadia for the links she sent; they were very helpful. And, thanks so much to all of you for sharing your opinions! It was very helpful to see the broad range of responses. I was concerned that posting this question on the PreK-K sub-forum would mean that it wouldn't get many responses - boy, was I wrong on that;) I appreciate the help!

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However, I’m afraid there is a tendency within the homeschool community to have very low expectations in the area of writing. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it is something to be aware of as homeschoolers.

 

I agree with this. I've definitely seen a fear of pushing writing, but I think it's two sides of the pendulum. On one side, you have the public school method of pushing for high quantity of writing very, very early, but there is no quality there. On the other side, some homeschoolers don't make their kids write hardly at all. In Bill's words, "There is a Third Way." :D I think kids need to actually be writing (not having everything scribed for them until middle school), but at the same time, I think there needs to be a focus on quality rather than quantity. SWB's method is a good example of a "Third Way". Focus on copywork, dictation, and oral narration in the early grades, moving toward writing their own narrations by around 4th grade. Then throw in outlining and different types of writing in grades 5-8. Her method gets kids writing quality papers, but they're not churning out 5-paragraph essays in K, with every sentence starting with the word, "I". :) (slight hyperbole there, of course!)

 

I have pushed my son to physically write more often in his school work the last couple years, and I'm very glad I did that. He needs to be actively writing, or writing won't get easier. BUT... I want the writing he does to be quality writing. So he writes his English exercises from a textbook instead of doing it orally (I assign an amount I believe to be appropriate for where he is). He might have to draw a picture and write about what he learned in science or history. He might have to write an entire paragraph using a keyword outline. He is writing developmentally appropriate amounts of quality writing. It's not as much as Bill's kid is probably writing at school, but I'm following that "Third Way". The kid has to write, and he has to write well. He doesn't get away with me scribing everything. But he also isn't forced to do journaling and a bunch of creative writing that he has no natural bent toward. Really, reading his "journal" from 1st grade is just pitiful. It wasn't teaching him to write at all. It was making him more scared to write! He needed to do copywork and dictation and work on the physical act of writing before putting together coming up with a thought, spelling the words correctly, punctuating correctly, etc.

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I agree with this. I've definitely seen a fear of pushing writing, but I think it's two sides of the pendulum. On one side, you have the public school method of pushing for high quantity of writing very, very early, but there is no quality there. On the other side, some homeschoolers don't make their kids write hardly at all. In Bill's words, "There is a Third Way." :D I think kids need to actually be writing (not having everything scribed for them until middle school), but at the same time, I think there needs to be a focus on quality rather than quantity. SWB's method is a good example of a "Third Way". Focus on copywork, dictation, and oral narration in the early grades, moving toward writing their own narrations by around 4th grade. Then throw in outlining and different types of writing in grades 5-8. Her method gets kids writing quality papers, but they're not churning out 5-paragraph essays in K, with every sentence starting with the word, "I". :) (slight hyperbole there, of course!)

 

I have pushed my son to physically write more often in his school work the last couple years, and I'm very glad I did that. He needs to be actively writing, or writing won't get easier. BUT... I want the writing he does to be quality writing. So he writes his English exercises from a textbook instead of doing it orally (I assign an amount I believe to be appropriate for where he is). He might have to draw a picture and write about what he learned in science or history. He might have to write an entire paragraph using a keyword outline. He is writing developmentally appropriate amounts of quality writing. It's not as much as Bill's kid is probably writing at school, but I'm following that "Third Way". The kid has to write, and he has to write well. He doesn't get away with me scribing everything. But he also isn't forced to do journaling and a bunch of creative writing that he has no natural bent toward. Really, reading his "journal" from 1st grade is just pitiful. It wasn't teaching him to write at all. It was making him more scared to write! He needed to do copywork and dictation and work on the physical act of writing before putting together coming up with a thought, spelling the words correctly, punctuating correctly, etc.

 

You certainly have a point that the "quality" of writing in what I've described does not have particularly high literary merit. It is also true that the work tends to be predominated by sentences that start with "I."

 

I like...I have...I go...I like to go, being especially well-represented openings of sentences.

 

As I mentioned, I envoked a general "no first person pronouns" in writing assignments mid-year to get a little more variety. These are simple/basic type sentences. I guess that is why, to me, being able to string together several of these sort (that at least semi-relate to one another) does not seem like an overly-high expectation.

 

Because the kids did a lot of coloring with colored pencils (which really builds hand strength and fine motor skills—as I found out, after initially being dubious about the amount of time spent on this activity) the neatness of the handwriting advance rapidly. Most kids (mine included) "scrawled" rather badly at the year's beginning, but virtually all had very neat handwriting by year's end. I was highly impressed.

 

The writing was almost always tied to picture making, with the assignments being to make a picture about some subject and then write about it. Pretty simple.

 

I (unsurprisingly :D) like what you say about seeking a Third Way. And if there are means of raising the "quality" of the writing, I'm all for it. I don't, personally, think the way to get there is by reducing the "quantity" of handwriting done, because the act of writing (as a physical exercise) increases the ability to write neatly and clearly, and being able to write neatly and clearly (without strain) increases the chances kid's will express themselves in written form. I realize the notion that kid's have anything worth expressing runs somewhat counter to some homeschooling cultures, but...

 

On that front if copy-work and narrations open children's minds to higher quality writing by writing it out, rather than just expressing their own thoughts, I've got no problem with that. There is room for both.

 

We don't use the MCT materials at home because I think the Language Arts aproach in the schools is perfect. I don't. I also don't think some of the stereotypes about PS (at least in good schools) is accurate. I don't think the writing demands are too high, not the quality standards are too low. The formal grammar education is way too scattershot in ensuing grade levels for my taste. But the kindergarten writing I saw was not bad. And was not "too much" writing from my perspective. I thought they hit it just right.

 

But had they spent some of the physical writing time copying out some great ( but realistic for the age) sentences, and discussing what made the chosen sentences interesting and expressive, would have been a good Third Way improvement. I won't argue this. It is why we spend time home educating, even if it is on a so-called "afterschooling" basis.

 

I'll admit to not being a fan of the "let it slide for a few years" model, where all the time missed earlier is supposedly made up for quickly at some later date. But some Third Way? I'm all for it!

 

Bill

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I don't know what's typical but we just finished our K year. I focused mostly on copywork, handwriting quality, and cursive (because he was interested) and did not require any original writing. My son could probably meet the standard outlined by Bill with gorgeous handwriting, so-so spelling, and some complaining :) The closest friend I have with a kid in a good public school produces volumes of written work but with terrible handwriting, incorrect letter formation, and atrocious spelling, but has fun and loves writing. It will be interesting to see which approach works better as the years progress. I'm hoping the emphasis on handwriting speed and quality this year (DS gets tons of complements on his penmanship) will pay off in first grade and beyond.

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Not all public school kindergarteners have bad handwriting :) My boy's report card (same format/template for entire district) for kindergarten has a grade for handwriting and another grade for writing. He had handwriting homework in his weekly homework packet too. The 1st graders are expected to have nice legible print.

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It very much depends on the child. My dd was able to do a lot more than my ds at the end of K. She was able to write simple sentences. My current Ker knows upper and lower case letters, can complete copywork of one to two short sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation. It's not my ideal for end of K, but it is what it is. He is a boy and he is making progress. :) We don't start spelling until first so I have no expectations of spelling until we start that.

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