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Before the child actually writes letters, he/she has used many Montessori materials made with knobs which help prepare the fingers for holding a pencil. Then, the child has been presented with a set of Metal Insets, with which the child uses a pencil to trace around various geometric shapes. Probably when these square sheets of paper with strange markings at first go home, the parent wonders what these "chicken scratches" are all about. However, as time goes on and the child gains more and more coordination over the use of a pencil, the geometric shapes become more obvious. The Sandpaper Letters also give the child the tactile-muscular practice in how the letters are formed. Our kindergarten children may use both cursive and manuscript Sandpaper Letters.
Parents of our Kindergarten children have a decision to make: cursive or manuscript. If a child is going to continue on in our elementary program, the child is taught to write using cursive letters. If the child is going to leave our school at the end of Kindergarten and go to a traditional first grade, the child is taught to write using manuscript letters. A letter is sent to our Kindergarten parents asking them to indicate the type of writing they wish their child to learn.
The children trace dotted letters and then form letters on their own. Eventually they write words and finally sentences. We follow a definite sequence in teaching penmanship to the children.
We ask the parents' help on two matters if they are going to work with their children at home. First, we ask that they teach the sounds of the letters and not the names of the letters, so that it is easier to blend the sounds into words when that moment arrives. Second, we ask that they teach their child lower case letters (not capitals) if they are going to teach their child to write his/her name. The first letter of each name should be capitalized; the other letters should be lower case.