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Handwriting at the first grade level can often times be difficult to decipher. It is necessary to explore options to help a child hone his or her skills. Cursive script is being introduced along with sentence structure, creative writing skills, spelling and more. If a child is to develop into a proficient writer, his or her handwriting needs to be accomplished. Exploring all the different options can seem overwhelming. Taking a look at handwriting first then moving into sentence structure and creative writing skills, should help break the immense choices into something more manageable.
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Handwriting Without Tears
Handwriting Without Tears is a writing curriculum that was created by an occupational therapist. It has been used for many years with incredible success. Handwriting Without Tears does not have a conventional approach. Most handwriting curriculums use the traditional three lined paper. The paper has the middle line being a dotted line. Handwriting Without Tears does not use this. HWT believes that this paper causes confusion in the minds of the children. They created a paper with only two lines. The bottom line is to keep the child's writing straight, and the top line is actually called the midline. The midline controls letter size. Within this type of paper, there are also levels. There is a wide double line, regular double line, and narrow double line that can be used.
Children learn by being introduced to the easiest strategies and letters first. This builds confidence and allows the child to experience success. Handwriting Without Tears is a very hands on curriculum. Not only does it use writing paper, it also allows for play time. This play time includes games and activities that build fine motor skills.
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Zaner-Bloser has a handwriting program that is rich in step-by-step instructions, and it promotes self-evaluation. This self-evaluation allows the student to become more aware of the effectiveness of their handwriting compared to curriculum that does not foster self-evaluation. When they are made aware of what it actually does look like, it allows for self correction and better legibility. Zaner-Bloser uses arrows to show stroke sequences when modeling letters. Colorful green dots show where strokes should begin. Beneath all models, are spaces that allow for practice writing from the students. There is another chance at the end of each lesson for self awareness. It is called the review page. There is also an application page that allows students to practice even more. Zaner-Bloser can be highly effective for the right student. Children and adults may find the curriculum mundane. It is regimented and steeped in repetition.
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A Reason For Handwriting
A Reason For Handwriting is a based on scripture. Each lesson is structured around a verse. The verses are not chosen at random but are chosen because of specific letter combinations. The curriculum focuses on the idea that handwriting practice makes perfect. Each day up to 15 minutes of practice are instituted. A Reason For Handwriting includes many memorization cues such as alphabet wall sheets and letter formation charts. Daily lesson plans are available for the parent to use to keep everyone on track. Students are given desk cards and paper to write on to copy and/or trace letters. The curriculum is highly effective; however, it is Bible-based and a family that is not interested in religious education might become uncomfortable
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Boxed Curriculum Handwriting
If a parent has chosen to use a boxed or prepackaged all-in-one curriculum and finds that their child is struggling with their handwriting, the parent can use an additional handwriting program. Many parents have found that while the curriculum as a whole is a valid choice for their family, a component of that curriculum might not be effective for their child. Not all children learn in the same way. So when choosing a first grade writing homeschool curriculum, a parent should not feel as if they have to stick to one program. The beauty of homeschooling affords parents the freedom to choose what is suitable for their children.
Please continue reading on the next page to learn more about curriculum options for teaching writing to first graders.
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Creative Writing and Sentence Structure for First Grade Students
A writing curriculum not only includes handwriting, but it also includes creative writing, sentence structure, grammar, spelling and many other aspects. A first grade homeschool writing curriculum should not focus on just one aspect. It should introduce the student to all aspects. If I student wants to become a accomplished writer, a compatible writing curriculum should be chosen. Children have different strengths and weaknesses. One program may work well for one student while it could leave another student behind. Choosing a curriculum can be easy if the focus is on how a student learns.
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The Writing Strands curriculum focuses on something called process writing. Process writing essentially means the result is not as important as the actual process taken to get there. This school of thought helps children focus on proper sentence structure, spelling, grammar and fluency when writing. Writing Strands is broken down into several different levels. This makes the program very successful. Some first grade students are far more advanced than others. Writing Strands 1 is for students who are not able to write properly. The students are just now being introduced to writing. Normally this is for the student who is between the ages of 3 to 7. This is the age bracket for a typical first grader. However, if a parent finds that their child is more advanced, the parent has the freedom to move to another level. The program includes games, audio cd's, and computer programs to help children beginning to write. A tool that is used is an audio recorder. Parents are to encourage their child to record a conversation and then analyse it. This helps in the creative process.
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Writing With Ease
Writing With Ease is a four-year program that was constructed by Susan Wise Bauer. Writing With Ease is designed for elementary school students but can also be used for struggling older students. There is a diagnostic program included with this program. It helps to determine at which level a child is functioning. There are coordinating workbooks that can be purchased. However, they do not have to be in order to make the program successful. Susan Wise Bauer designed Writing With Ease to start at the very beginning. She breaks down each aspect of writing so that nothing is forgotten, left behind, or left misunderstood. This can seem tedious but is well worth it. Copywork is a staple, and so are narration excersizes. A consistent method is used, and this makes the child feel comfortable and helps build their confidence. The program allows parents to use books and other reading materials that are already owned. Using the program this way means that parents will not have to spend money that they do not have to spend. Increasing length of sentences, complexity and vocabulary words build confidence and transforms a first grade student into an accomplished writer.
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The first grade homeschool writing curriculum includes many different aspects of writing. A child may excel in some subjects and not others. The first grade curriculum guidelines are clearly laid out for homeschooling families. The guidelines do state that a writing curriculum should be included. However, the decision in which method or curriculum is used can be left up to the parent. Handwriting and creative writing work together to create a successful writer. Fostering creativity and the process of writing itself will teach a child how to think for themselves and how to communicate effectively with the written word.
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Process Writing, http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/instrctn/in5lk11.htm
The Homeschool Advisor, http://www.hsadvisor.com/bookstore/1st-grade/language-arts/handwriting/
Handwriting Without Tears, http://www.hwtears.com/
A Reason For Handwriting, http://www.areasonfor.com/article.php?id=19
Writing Strands, http://www.writing-strands.com/curriculum.asp
Writing With Ease, The Well-Trained Mind, http://www.welltrainedmind.com/store/language-arts/writing.html
A Reason For Handwriting, http://www.learningthings.com/Images/CCC_REASON_FOR_HANDWRITING_A_KIT_100.GIF
Writing Strands 1, http://www.writing-strands.com/images/writing-strands-level-1-thumb.jpg