When homeschooled Lily was 5 years old, her mom started teaching her to print letters. Children are generally taught to print in kindergarten or first grade, but the methods and level of emphasis on teaching handwriting skills varies considerably from setting to setting. Lily’s mother had employed the Handwriting Without Tears program to good effect with her older children, and it seemed to be working well for Lily, except for one thing. She was extremely fastidious.
She was often displeased with the shape of her letters and frequently erased and re-wrote each one until she felt it matched the models in the practice book. Erasing took time as Lily wanted every bit of a mistaken attempt gone before starting anew. And with each new erasure, Lily’s paper grew more smudged and untidy. This displeased her too, so she would ask for a fresh piece of paper to start again.
Then Lilly’s mom had an idea! She handed her a KleenSlate Response Paddle and told her to use the lined side for her handwriting practice. The lined side of the Paddle mimicked the handwriting paper which helps kids learn proper proportion for lower and upper case letters. Using a dry-erase marker on a Paddle worked great because it allowed Lily to erase quickly and completely and then rewrite until she was satisfied with the letter’s shape.
Lily’s mom also discovered that if she gave her a pencil-sized dry-erase marker, she was able to practice the appropriate grip—one that could be easily transferred to using a pencil with paper as she mastered letter formation and gained confidence.
Several months later, Lily was able to work entirely with pencil and paper. Her letters were neat and well-formed, and both she and her mom were happy.
While not all students are as fastidious as Lily, many young students enjoy using Response Paddles when learning to print no matter what method of handwriting instruction the teacher employs. Using Paddles for practice work conserves paper usage too.
Once students are successfully forming letters on the whiteboard Paddle, they can shift to working on paper or in handwriting booklets.
We’d love to hear from teachers and homeschool moms who have used Paddles to teach handwriting. Leave us a comment, please.