I thought I'd show you some comparisons. Take note that the reason for this comparison exercise is not what you think.
Can you guess which son did which handwriting? In looking at the samples above, do you automatically make a judgement about what a good student the owner of Exhibit A is? Were you already shaking your head in pity at the thought that I have to teach the child of Exhibit B with handwriting 'as big as a circus tent' (his words)?
Let me fill you in on something. Good or bad handwriting do indicate ANYTHING. Nada, zip, zero. Let me say it again.....handwriting determines NOTHING. Lovely penmanship has zilch to do with smarts, laziness, rebellion, or Little Debbie Oatmeal Cakes. Seriously. Of my 6 offspring, exactly ONE has beautiful penmanship (see exhibit A) and one other has fairly nice writing. The others all write in some form of chicken-scratch, and I'm just okie-dokie with it. They are all smart, doing well in college/high school, and are cute to boot.
Having said that, let me tell you that in reality, really messy handwriting from a child who gets easily frustrated and tearful CAN clue you into his learning style. Exhibit B above belongs to my 11 year old son Ben who is a Visual Spatial Learner. He has enormous difficulty with handwriting, which is not only nearly impossible to read, but takes him a super long time to do. VSL's are notorious for atrocious handwriting. So I don't sweat it. As we get more and more into our school routine, I hope to write about some techniques I'll use to teach him skills in non-traditional ways. Typical auditory-sequential (ie: traditional public school methods) don't work for VSLs because they are whole-to-parts, right brained, picture thinkers. Because they have messy writing, they are sometimes labeled in negative ways in school and by parents. Don't do it!
Then why do I make him do cursive practice, you ask? Well, first of all he's doing a 1st grade level handwriting book. This means he only needs to copy 2 short sentences a day. Secondly, it gives him practice in copywork a la WTM...seeing proper sentence structure and learning to focus on the details of commas, spelling, grammar, etc. Thirdly, as I mentioned in the linked post, it's a mini-art appreciation lesson. Lastly, I want to continue to train his hand muscles because like it or not, he will need to do some handwriting as an adult. Even if it's to sign his name on a credit slip. Also, had I known way back when that he was a VSL as he started kindergarten, I would've used Handwriting without Tears. Would've saved us many, well, tears.
This child who writes like a 3 year old, is actually extremely intelligent, thinks easily 'outside the box', and has a quick wit. Though he's easily distractable, he can hyper-focus on something he's really into...like LEGOs.
So, whether he ever nails down a fluid, fabulous hand just isn't a concern. His brilliancy shows up in other ways....ways that are sometimes (or oftentimes) disregarded or misjudged as 'problems'. Pshaw.
For those of you with kids who struggle with penmanship, don't hyperventilate over it. Some kids just won't be great at handwriting. And you might just have a VSL....if you do, see my resources tab for info sites about this kind of learning style. I also have books listed over yonder in the side bar that have helped me tremendously in leaning methods of teaching to this learning style. They also work with kinesthetic kids and can be good for the regular 'school-y' types too...everyone needs practice in visual-spatial methods, regardless of brain-dominance due to our highly visual culture....the global job market is leaning heavily to those with spatial skills.
Another time I may introduce you to another personality-typing program I use to help teach to each of my kids' strengths based on their natures. My VSL son Ben is also a 'Type 1', which is represented as airy and light, random, fun, and bouncy. He's never gonna sit for a long time doing rote memorywork. Ain't gonna happen. Not even going there.