Kindergarten penmanship– and a contest!

The Pediatric Insider

© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD

Katie’s son has a kindergarten teacher that’s worried about his handwriting: “I have a 5.5 year old who loves kindergarten and is doing great in all subjects except handwriting. His teacher says he is behind the other kids and has suggested that I take him to get evaluated by an occupational therapist.” Mom says his handwriting is “legible, but not great,” and wonders if there are unreasonable expectations at his high-performing school.

Handwriting and penmanship are not skills that should be stressed in kindergarten. Kids ought to be coloring and doing mazes and painting and practicing hand-eye skills, but not by drilling and practicing letters all day. A kindergartener with handwriting that’s legible is already ahead of the game.

As I’ve written about before, schools have gone overboard with early academics and are stressing out kids and parents. Psychologists, occupational therapists, neurologists, developmental specialists, pediatricians, vision experts– we’re all involved now, and many children have multiple specialists to manage their academic shortcomings. Some children do need and benefit from early intervention for learning disabilities and other school problems, but that ought to be the exception, not the rule. Every child doesn’t need an evaluation, diagnosis, and therapy.

As long as your child’s handwriting doesn’t look like this, he’ll be fine. Even if it does, he can grow up to be a pediatrician!

Announcing The “Guess What Roy Wrote” contest!

The first person to post a comment deciphering even one of the three things on my hand-written todo list will get a free copy of one of my books! Enter as many times as you’d like, just post your guess as a comment below. My wife is disqualified, as is my kindergarten teacher.

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10 Comments on “Kindergarten penmanship– and a contest!”

  1. Jack Says:

    couldn’t you at least post a larger image so we could try to read it a little better? 😉


  2. Nina B. Says:

    I guess it runs in the family. Geniuses, yes. Calligraphers, no.


  3. Sherry Says:

    So tempting! I have to complain about the size and angle as well. Plus it’s a bit blurry (or is that me?), I can’t make out much…maybe a t here, an f there. I don’t think I have a chance in any case! Do you even know what it says?????


  4. Julie Says:

    I feel like I could really decipher it if I saw it in real life. Good thing you use electronic records at the office.

    Here’s my best guesses:

    1) Pet stop net it gal on trend. (you need to get cat food and renew your subscription to Motor Trend?)

    2) Speed other? Ask brother if to return the f. (You got a speeding ticket and you want your police officer brother to talk to the judge?)

    3) ______ educate or install. (You better install that new faucet or you’re sleeping on the couch tonight?)

    Back to Katie’s question……

    I completely agree that the expectations for kindergarten have gotten out of control. Kindy now is what 1st grade used to be. That’s when you used to learn to read and write. Many children are not developmentally ready to be reading, writing and computing at 5 years old.

    But in any case, if the teacher is really that concerned and feels it’s affecting his education, then Mom can request for the teacher to make a referral to the school OT and have them do a fine motor assessment, if they truly feel it’s a problem. Perhaps he could use some help with pencil grip or has some motor issues, but more likely, he’s just completely typical and his handwriting will develop when it’s supposed to.

    On the other hand, you might benefit from a fine motor assessment, methinks you skipped school during penmanship instruction, tsk tsk.


  5. Katie Says:

    Thanks for the input. I did take him for OT eval and although they do want to work with him on a weekly basis, the OT feels it’s mostly an issue of muscle weakness and fatigue. So I guess we’ll have to add strength training and weight lifting to his homework regimen which already includes 1-4 pages of work EVERY day!!


  6. Woofie (Ruth) Says:

    1. Partyer not a gal or teacher
    2. Seed okay? Streching on tippy toes
    3. _____ educate and instill

    Perhaps it was some sort of odd pediatric clinic day….the first patient comes in, a little tipsy and can provide no more info than that he is really a man, and not a teacher….The second suffers from strained calf muscles, perhaps a gardening incident….and the third is Dr. Woy reminding himself that part of the job is to impart his wisdom upon the masses…..How did I do???


  7. Mike Says:

    Definitely latin.


  8. Billie Jean Says:

    The angle is really bad —- I think #2 is “seed order? xtra or 1/2 of last time” Maybe?

    It’s really not fair – if it was a prescription, I could decipher it…….


  9. Mirele Says:

    Uau!! I like a chalenge, but this one got me!
    Here I go:

    – gas tap not Fl gal or ….
    – seed altar? See summer …. the f
    – ______Edit or instal______

    My head hurts… 🙂


  10. Dr. Roy Says:

    Thanks to everyone for participating!

    Too bad, no one wins. Which is a good thing, because my lame-o publisher won’t give me comp copies of the books anyway.

    The answers:

    1. Post Soph not feel good on Terri Wall
    2. Need other over? As homeowner or try to return then if
    3. _________ check harder then new install

    They don’t make any sense to me, either. I suppose that’s one to-do list that never got done…


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