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Can't learn cursive


hollyhock
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What do you do with the child who can't learn cursive?

 

He spent all of last year (Grade 3) learning it, and then I had him work through the summer because he still wasn't getting it. Now we're in the beginning of Grade 4 and he's finished the last book (we've done 3 different programs) and he still can't do it. I will give him a sentence in print like "The rubber band got hot" (related to our science lesson) and he can't translate it into cursive. I've spent hours sitting with him making sure he's doing the letters and exercises correctly. He can copy cursive pretty nicely but he can't do it on his own.

 

What would you do? Take a break and then try again when he's older? Drop it altogether and not worry about it? I think he should be able to at least read it and he can't very well - sort of, but not really.

 

Has anyone dealt with this before?

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We approach cursive the same way as we did print, but we add an extra step in there of fill in the blank copywork.  I pick an easy word, like 'the', and leave it out of the copywork.  I ask him to think it over in his head and then write it in cursive when he gets to that point in his writing. I slowly increase the difficulty over time. FWIW, we found the transition from D'nealian print to D'nealian cursive much less painful than any other method of print writing.  It requires mostly just a simple join rather than relearning every letter.

 

This brings to mind the book Muggie Maggie. :)  Maybe a good read if you all are looking for a breather for now.

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With my maybe-dyslexic/dysgraphic left-handed oldest (whose ability to either see or hear the details of words was about nil, and her atrocious spelling showed it), cursive went badly at first.  Our program jumped from letters to words quickly, and it wasn't surprising that she couldn't spell cursive words that she couldn't spell in print, kwim?  I've read that writing in cursive requires the ability to spell syllable-by-syllable (instead of letter-by-letter), and dd definitely couldn't do that - she was unable to break words into syllables, or break syllables into individual sounds.  Also, despite my phonics teaching, she was a pure visual reader.  I think contributed to her trouble with cursive, because the words all looked different in cursive and she was unable to sound them out.

 

So after she learned individual letters, I had her practice all the phonograms and blends in cursive before proceeding to words.  (She had a cursive model for these steps.)  Then I had her work through all the CVC words in our phonics book, then all the blends, and then the basic two-letter phonogram words (about 1800 words in all - she did 20 per day).  She did not have a cursive model in front of her for the words, though she had a cursive reference sheet.  (I called it cursive practice, and it was, but it was also covert blending practice, to help remediate her whole-word reading.  I actually ran her and her younger sister through the same set of words at the same time - cursive practice for the older and spelling-to-read practice for my younger.)  At the same time I was working on her ability to break words into syllables and blend syllables together and to spell syllable-by-syllable; I also worked on her ability to visually notice the individual phonograms in words.  By the end, she'd written 1800 one-syllable words and had plenty of practice with all the basic syllable types and variations, and had the ability to break words into syllables and spell them syllable-by-syllable, and was able to write in cursive anything she could write in print.  (And her spelling was tremendously improved.)

 

It took a decent bit of work for dd to learn cursive.  I think we spent half a year on letters/phonograms/blends (practicing 4 a day and repeating until she felt solid on them) - I'd went through and wrote all the possible phonograms/blends/two-letter-combos she could do for each lesson with the letters she'd learned up till that point.  And then probably close to a year working through one-syllable words, from simple to complex (again, repeating as needed till she felt solid).  But I did think it was worth it, and certainly the underlying issues that made cursive hard also made other things hard - pretty much all writing and spelling - and so remediating them was worthwhile for lots of reasons, not just for cursive.

Edited by forty-two
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He does not have problems with print, and we already went through HWT Cursive because it is more straight-forward, but it just didn't stick like I wanted it to. I think I am just going to drop it for now and come back to it when he's older. After doing some searches on this board, I came across other people whose kids learned cursive at an older age. I think I'm going to try that with him.

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With my maybe-dyslexic/dysgraphic left-handed oldest (whose ability to either see or hear the details of words was about nil, and her atrocious spelling showed it), cursive went badly at first. Our program jumped from letters to words quickly, and it wasn't surprising that she couldn't spell cursive words that she couldn't spell in print, kwim? I've read that writing in cursive requires the ability to spell syllable-by-syllable (instead of letter-by-letter), and dd definitely couldn't do that - she was unable to break words into syllables, or break syllables into individual sounds. Also, despite my phonics teaching, she was a pure visual reader. I think contributed to her trouble with cursive, because the words all looked different in cursive and she was unable to sound them out.

 

So after she learned individual letters, I had her practice all the phonograms and blends in cursive before proceeding to words. (She had a cursive model for these steps.) Then I had her work through all the CVC words in our phonics book, then all the blends, and then the basic two-letter phonogram words (about 1800 words in all - she did 20 per day). She did not have a cursive model in front of her for the words, though she had a cursive reference sheet. (I called it cursive practice, and it was, but it was also covert blending practice, to help remediate her whole-word reading. I actually ran her and her younger sister through the same set of words at the same time - cursive practice for the older and spelling-to-read practice for my younger.) At the same time I was working on her ability to break words into syllables and blend syllables together and to spell syllable-by-syllable; I also worked on her ability to visually notice the individual phonograms in words. By the end, she'd written 1800 one-syllable words and had plenty of practice with all the basic syllable types and variations, and had the ability to break words into syllables and spell them syllable-by-syllable, and was able to write in cursive anything she could write in print. (And her spelling was tremendously improved.)

 

It took a decent bit of work for dd to learn cursive. I think we spent half a year on letters/phonograms/blends (practicing 4 a day and repeating until she felt solid on them) - I'd went through and wrote all the possible phonograms/blends/two-letter-combos she could do for each lesson with the letters she'd learned up till that point. And then probably close to a year working through one-syllable words, from simple to complex (again, repeating as needed till she felt solid). But I did think it was worth it, and certainly the underlying issues that made cursive hard also made other things hard - pretty much all writing and spelling - and so remediating them was worthwhile for lots of reasons, not just for cursive.

This is an interesting approach. I am going to keep it in mind for my struggling speller. She's solid in cursive, but the spelling in chunks thing is hard - doing all the AAS dictation in cursive might be somewhat similar to this.

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