Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cursive Handwriting

From what I understand, many school districts are no longer teaching cursive handwriting.  I find the sad, and frankly a mistake on the part of school boards who continue to add curriculum that can be tested to the school day.  (But that is another story.)

Learning to write in cursive, is so much more than having good handwriting.  Here are a few example:

Concentration - lack of focus and concentration have always been issues.  Maria Montessori even wrote about children who are labeled as "naughty" because they are unable to concentrate on anything.  Like any skill concentration needs to be practiced.  Cursive practice gives students the space and time to develop focus which can then be transferred to other lessons.

Directionality - Rarely do children write their letters backwards while using cursive.  The letters are always formed left to right.  In print the letters begin in all sorts of different places and you may have to go left or right or up or down.  This can be confusing.  In cursive all the letters start on the line and you then move to the right.  

Reading skills - Cursive can improve reading skills.  It practices seeing words from left to right.  Cursive letters are connected to form words.  In print the letters are spaced and then there is a larger space between words, this can be confusing to a child.  Children can read cursive words because the letters are connected to form a single word.

Perseverance, Patience, Pride - Cursive practice teaches children to persevere until they master the correct formation.  Patience is developed by working at something that becomes easier over time.  Pride in one's work and finished products are internal motivation.  We do it because we want it to be beautiful not because we want a sticker.   These three benefits are often overlooked by school boards.

I think cursive should be taught when the child is learning to write.  It is easier to learn.  Many people many say but we need to teach print so children can learn to read.  Well that is true.  But learning to read and learning to write are actually different skills.  We can teach children to read print but to write in cursive with no detriment to the child.

There are many fun ways to learn cursive too.  

Sand Tray - Using a tray of sand or oatmeal with a pinch of cinnamon is a fun way to  practice letters.  It engages sight, smell, and touch.

Painting -Writing with a paint brush and water on the side of the house.  Make the letters and swoops really large to get the movement into the shoulder muscles.

Rainbow writing -  using highlighters to trace cursive letters or words.

So we do need to have a signature, this means we must learn to write in cursive.  Writing in print is actually becoming old fashioned as we use computers to compose, complete application, and send mail.

Cursive is a necessary art form. Young children want to learn how to write in cursive, it is mysterious and very grown up.  If you wait until 3rd or 4th grade it could be too late!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Seeing the REAL Child

When I was growing up, I faced situations where I was unsure how to behave or act.  I questioned how to be a friend to someone or make a good impression.  Being a child of the 1960s and 70s, my parents would say, "Just be yourself."

I would think, "Just who is myself?"

There was the IDEAL me.  The one that longed to live up to the expectations of parents, relatives, teachers, and friends.  She was a good girl, kind, helpful, diligent, and considerate.

There was the SECRET me.  The one I wanted to be; popular, funny, pretty, talented, and one who always knew the right thing to say.

But who was the REAL me?  I am learning that children, like seeds, contain all their potential at birth.  Well intentioned adults put their expectations on the children they love.  Educators put expectations on the children in their care.  Often this confuses the child.  Am I me or am I someone's idea of me?

As an educator, I am rethinking how I respond to children.  Children learn naturally.  I do not want to get in the way of the developing potential of the child.  If I am the REAL me and respond the the REAL child, then I must give the child space and time to make connections with the world around him or her.

I guess the REAL me must live up to my own potential and my own expectations.  We must all be free to decide who the REAL person inside of us is.
Our experiences are what feeds our potential.  Do you know the REAL you?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Video for Star Spangled Skewerw

Here is the link to the video for Star Spangled Skewers:

You can cut and paste the address into your browser.

Thanks to David, Buddy and my young helpers for this one.  I am going to get better at the video thing....give me a little time.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Peach Cobbler recipe and videos

Okay, so today I spent the day trying to capture a peach cobbler recipe and some kitchen tips for working with children in a video to put on my new YouTube channel, Help From Debbie.

Haha, I have been working on it for 5 hours now.  I am not able to put all the videos together in one smooth there are 5!

The cobbler is delicious and here is the recipe.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Fresh peaches
1 C. brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 C flour
1/3 C melted butter
1/2 C milk
1 egg
lemon zest

Wash, peel and cut peaches into chunks, place in buttered 8x8 inch pan (I use a cast iron skillet).
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Combine other ingredients in a bowl, mix till smooth.
Pour over peaches.
Bake for 55 - 60 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or a dash of heavy cream.

If you would like to watch the videos, my youtube channel is

They are labeled peach cobbler 1 - 5.