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Disappearing Cursive; Reluctant Kindergartener

April 2, 2014

Question: I recently observed my child's third-grade class take part in a one-room school field trip. It was an eye-opening experience. When it came time for the children to copy a piece of cursive writing while using a quill and ink, most could not do this, as they could not read or write cursive. Is cursive disappearing from the curriculum in today's schools? -- Disappearing Writing

Answer: To teach or not teach cursive in elementary schools has become a big debate in education. The debate is currently fueled by the omission of cursive in the required curriculum of the Common Core State Standards. Many people think cursive is already a dying art with more adults now printing rather than writing. Plus, a lot of teachers believe instructional time devoted to cursive could be used to focus on other skills that will impact students' success in school. As far as the argument about not being able to read historical documents written in cursive goes, teachers feel that students can be taught in a minimum of time to read cursive.

There is, however, a movement by the legislatures in a number of states to pass laws to require the teaching of cursive. And there are those, including occupational therapists, who believe that teaching cursive contributes to brain development. In addition, others believe that cursive writing is an art form to be cherished.

No matter what side of the handwriting debate you are on, the fact is cursive handwriting is now taught in fewer schools than in the past.

Question: We have been told by our son's preschool teacher that he is ready for kindergarten both academically and socially. He has a January birthday, so he will be 5 1/2 by the time kindergarten starts. However, we have some reservations about sending him because there are confidence issues, as he is very cautious and somewhat reluctant to try new things. How should we factor in this issue when making our decision? Is there any downside to another year of preschool? -- Too Cautious

Answer: The one certainty in the kindergarten readiness issue is the inability to see the future. There is more than half a year before he will go to kindergarten -- plenty of time for your son to gain confidence. Furthermore, you cannot be sure another year of preschool would make him more confident.

You have time before kindergarten starts to help him build more confidence by helping him learn how to handle new situations. For example, before he faces a new situation, such as an overnight stay at a friend's house, talk over what is going to happen and play-act possible responses. And when he faces a new task, guide him in breaking it down into manageable units based on his past experiences.

The negative about another year of preschool is that it means an additional year of schooling. Also, since the preschool teacher believes that he is ready for kindergarten, another year of preschool might not be very challenging intellectually. In addition, your son will not be the youngest in his class next fall. This is a positive, as older children tend to do better in the first three grades.

Visiting the preschool to see how your son interacts with his classmates and does the school work also could help you make this decision. Also, contact the school district to make sure that your son will be able to enter kindergarten instead of first grade if you delay his entry.

Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of Mahoning Valley Parent, 1 North Illinois Street No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or log on to, or email



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