I ordered some workbooks.
I find it hard to believe, myself.
But it’s true.
It came down to this: D1 and D2 write constantly. They make lists, they copy book titles, they write notes to their friends, they play restaurant and write out menus.
And the instruction I have given them in letter formation has been very sporadic. Most of it they have worked out for themselves, often incorrectly. (I watched D2 today, for instance, write a capital "H" by writing the equivalent of a lower-case h and then adding an extra half-line.)
Before they get too much farther, in short, I think they need some more directed experience so that letter formation is effortless when they’re ready to move on to spelling, written narrations, etc.
I considered doing more homemade or free printouts, but getting things printed was just not happening often enough (plus, the printer just broke). And I want to do italic–I think it’s much prettier and quicker, and it’s the closest to my own writing style–and there are few free resources for that.
So, it seemed a case for something simple that they can work through one page at a time and learn the proper formation for each letter. Once they know that, we’ll move to copywork. They like workbooks to play with. I’m sure they wouldn’t if they spent all day with them, but we’re talking ten minutes to write two lines here.
I ordered the Getty-Dubay Italic series, Book A for D2 and Book B for D1. (Book A is really all I want–the one letter per page in stroke order–but I thought it best not to have them working on exactly the same pages since D1 can write better than D2.) I honestly feel kind of bad about expecting D2 to do handwriting at 4, but he always insists on doing what D1 does, and the truth is, he can do it.
I’m working with the twins to have a time when they play in their room each morning. I plan this to be my time to work at the table with the big kids. Handwriting is going to be my top priority for this time–they are doing plenty of reading in their free time, and our read-alouds and discussions at other times of day cover every other topic imaginable. (Copyright law? Separation of powers? Place value?) We might do spelling if things are going well.
Today we did a brief spelling lesson on words ending with "ll" and I focused them on "taking a picture" of the word and then writing the whole world down on their page. D1 was able to do this fairly well. With that and challenging them to notice the unusual spellings (e.g., using "a" for the /o/ sound in "all") it kept their attention engaged.
And then I went and played with blocks with the twins while they drew all over their papers and turned them into letters for their friends in Ohio. So it was a good day’s work.