How Much Does Nice Handwriting Really Matter? (And Other Thoughts About Standardized Standards)By
Did I ever tell you about the time I came home from a well baby check up with one of our boys when he was an infant? He was off the charts when it came to weight and height! I was so proud. However, his head circumference was “only in the 50th percentile”. I worried and worried about that - until I finally had a chance to share what I’d learned with Matt. His response? “Oh, okay. So his head is average. Why exactly does that worry you?”
Huh, good question. Good grief. As if being in the top 95% of his weight class somehow proved that my four month old was outstanding? And since his head was “only at 50″, that somehow meant I had failed him? What in the world do those numbers mean anyway?
After much consideration, and a few more years of mothering experience, I have concluded that chart, schmart – God makes beautiful babies in all shapes and sizes – glory, glory, hallelujah, the end.
And well, isn’t the same true when we talk about all of our capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses?
Whether you home school, public school, or private school your kids, I think it’s easy to let educational pressures and “the norms” get the best of us. Shoot, apparently the pressures to have an over-achiever can begin long before our kids are in school – as is proven by my insecurity that my child’s head was perfectly normal in size. ;)
The books say a child should be doing such and such by a certain age. There are specific standards that judge what is “average”, what is “below average”, and what is “above average”. I appreciate these standards in some ways because they do give us all some great guidelines to reference.
But after having taught in the public school for a few years, and now having taught our four boys at home for over 11 years (well, really 15 years, since technically we started teaching them from birth) - I have come to the conclusion that while a standard is a nice generalized overview, it certainly isn’t something I need to stress out about, lose sleep over, or laminate and put on my refrigerator.
Everyone is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. (Fore the reccord, I am a teribble speller.) (Obviously.)
These particular “let’s all stop worrying about standards and simply enjoy teaching and learning with our kids” thoughts came to me once again as I was watching our fourth son, now a second grader, do his handwriting lesson last week. I have tried and tried to teach that kid the correct way to form his letters. No matter what I try, he just won’t form his letters following the little arrows as his book directs. He’s not being disobedient, he simply has his own way of doing it. And guess what? His B still looks like a B. Can you even believe it?
Come to think of it, I was also taught a certain style of handwriting, and I also form my letters in a completely different way now. But my handwriting is legible and even kind of pretty if I take my time. (Just don’t look at the shopping lists I typically scrawl onto the back of whatever junk mail envelope that is the closest to me when I remember that we need toilet paper.)
And while I’m on the subject, do you know anyone in the world who makes their cursive Q’s the way they teach in most textbooks? Freakiest letter formation I have ever seen. My apologies to Mr. Zaner-Bloser for bluntly sharing my opinion, which, in my opinion, is correct.
So all of this to say: Lovingly push your kids, enlighten your kids, and challenge your kids. Give them the very best education you can possibly give them.
But if they still make their letter B’s kinda funny, or if they don’t add their math facts the way the book tells them to and they still somehow get the correct answer, or if they aren’t quite meeting the official standards for their grade level in all subjects… Or if your third grader is working really hard but still isn’t reading chapter books, even though your neighbor’s four year old just finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia series… Or if your child couldn’t spell the word kat if her life depended on it…
Or, shock upon shock - if you have a child whose head circumference measures perfectly average…
I give us all permission to relax and appreciate that our kids are working hard and learning at the level they are each capable of.
It is a fact that I know a lot of doctors who are really, really brilliant and clearly have fantastic educations…and their handwriting is terrible.
Or maybe it’s just that they are all actually writing their cursive capital Q’s in the funky way I despise and I am really the one with the problem.
What are your thoughts on educational standards? Know or have any kids who are spot on with those guidelines? And what do you think about funky cursive capital Q’s?