Notes to a Montessori parent - give the child a choice!
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For a child who doesn't like to write, or has messy handwriting...

Writing pens at How we Montessori 2018

Over the years both Caspar (10 years) and Otis (7 years) have been asked to work on their handwriting, to make it neater, to make it conform. When Otis moved from Cycle One to Cycle Two his teacher was concerned about the time he took to write, he was and still is, a very slow writer. It's not that he doesn't have the words, it just takes him longer to get the words onto paper. 

This unease about the children's writing (by their teachers) has in some way made my children reluctant to write, they will write they just don't like it very much, they are not at all proud of their handwriting and don't like to show it to anyone. Caspar is left handed and this is so often used by teachers as an excuse or reason for untidy handwriting - which I've never understood. When I found this suggestion, I totally loved it! 

"In my Montessori elementary training we learned several ways to help children improve their writing. Margaret Stephenson told us that if a child is writing in a messy way we could introduce a new alphabet (maybe italic if he has been writing in cursive, or the reverse, or cursive if he has been writing in print); we could give him special ink with different nib widths (sometimes we made these pens from feathers  we found) and different colored inks. 

Give him a short piece of poetry written in beautiful handwriting to copy. 

This is 'teaching by teaching, not by correcting'. It is adjusting the challenge of beautiful handwriting to the needs of the child. It gives work that inspires work and concentration." Susan Mayclin Stephenson in Montessori and Mindfulness

Both of my children have learned to write in cursive. Otis still doesn't link his letters, it's not a concern for me but his teachers (including his Montessori teachers) have given us ideas on ways we can work on it (if we want to) at home. In their British school, the children are also taught cursive. If you have Montessori and Mindfulness, look at the image on page 76, Caspar has in the past written something very similar.

Otis at HWM 2018

So we've followed these suggestions with great success, the author of Montessori and Mindfulness includes a few more suggestions also worth trying. My aim was simple, I wanted them to enjoy writing and to be proud of their work.  Caspar also has a love of history so perhaps this new suggestion with feather pens is particularly relevant to him, I wish we had tried it sooner. For the first time in his life, Caspar is enjoying writing! 

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