Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Happened To Teaching Cursive Writing?


My kids went back to school today. Other than my youngest son's bus being late (we finally had to jump in the car and take him to school), everything went very smoothly this morning. I have to admit that I'm always glad to see this time roll around. As much as I enjoy the carefree, lazy days of summer with my kids, it's nice to get back into the school routine. And, since I'm not a fan of summer weather, I especially look forward to the arrival of fall and cooler temperatures.

Monday night our elementary school had their open house. You could drop in and take care of various tasks such as putting money in their lunch accounts or signing up to volunteer, etc. The kids also had the opportunity to visit their classroom, meet their teacher, and place their school supplies in their desks. Something pretty significant occurred when we took our son to his 5th grade classroom although I didn't realize it until the next day. As we entered his classroom, a sign instructed us to first let the student find his desk (it would have his name on it). Well, my son walked around the classroom, looking at the desks, but something just didn't seem right with him. I thought he was probably just a little nervous, being around all the other kids and parents. I spotted his name and steered him toward his desk, not really thinking much more about it. We deposited his supplies, chatted with his teacher, and left, bringing with us a pack of paperwork that needed to be filled out and returned on the first day of school.

Later the next day, as I was completing the paperwork, I came across a form that required my son's signature to say that he agreed to abide by their internet usage rules while at school. I called him to the room and told him to sign his name, "in cursive."  He just looked at me and said, "I don't know how to write in cursive." Then, I suddenly remembered his hesitation as he searched for his name among the desks - the names were written in cursive! I questioned him and he told me he didn't really know how to read cursive writing. What?! I was floored! He's going into the 5th grade and he doesn't know how to read or write in cursive. How did I miss this? How? My other kids were all taught cursive but as I questioned him further, I realized that this was no longer the case. Cursive writing is just not something they focus on like they used to. First of all, I feel like a total failure for not knowing about this; like I really dropped the ball by not learning of it sooner. If I had realized, I would've definitely spent the summer working on it with him. But, I also feel disappointed with the school. When did cursive writing stop being part of the curriculum? I personally feel that cursive writing is a skill that needs to be taught to our kids.

So, now I'm taking it into my hands and plan on working with him to teach him cursive writing. I'm sure there are worksheets and printables that I can find on the internet to help us practice. I just can't get over the terrible feeling that I failed him by not being on top of this.

If you have school-age kids I would love to hear your thoughts. My other kids learned cursive somewhere around 3rd-4th grade. What about yours? Is cursive writing a teaching focus at your school? In what grades do they teach cursive writing?