The Importance of Panache!
Around the time that Jen first approached me to be a guest blogger, a friend of mine in The States had updated her Facebook status to discuss how her child's school was no longer teaching penmanship. She was outraged.
True, nowadays most of us do just about everything on the computer anyway - from writing letters to mathematical calculations - but penmanship should still be important, she quipped. Penmenship helps kids develop fine motor skills, not to mention that, at some point in our lives, we all have to write something down on paper, like our phone number for a cute guy we meet at a bar (or a fake for Mr. Sketchy)!
And so, with my friend's rant reverberating in my brain, I become much more aware of the handwriting all around me. And I noticed something: all the handwriting looked incredibly similar. From the daily specials listed at our local brasserie to the sign hanging up outside my son's classroom informing me that there was an outbreak of lice in his classroom and to check his head regularly, the French seem to take pride in teaching each generation how to create (yes, create, not write) letters on the page.
And the French don't seem to be alone in this.
It is a very European phenomenon.
For example, here is a letter that my grandmother, who was born in Holland and educated in Belgium, wrote to me in 1996. She was 79 years old at the time and a bit shaky, but you can see how virtually every word is constructed by a single line that has been swished and swirled so elegantly yet so effortlessly after years of practice.
So, I started paying closer attention to my son's school work to see if I could dissect how penmanship is taught here. The French start planting the seeds as early as they possibly can: in the first year of school which, in France, is at the age of 3 years.
My son is goes to his école maternelle from 8:30-4:30 everyday. The kids still get a two-hour rest time and, like most preschools in America, play is encouraged. They have "recrée" (recess) twice a day and, in between, get to draw, do puzzles, or read books. But they also have a curriculum that is set by the National government. And, on the top on their agenda for this first year or "petite section" is to begin to fine-tune the motor skills necessary to achieve that precise, round, beautiful cursive that seemingly flows from the hand onto the page.
In my son's class, the kids are given worksheets during the day that work to fine tune the necessary skills while allowing them to be creative.
Here are a few recent examples:
And, as they say, practice makes perfect (though, in our house I have placed a moratorium on the word "perfect" but that's a different story) so the kids are encouraged to draw draw draw.
My son comes home with at least one drawing a day. And, as you can see, his fine motor skills, and penmanship, have greatly improved. As has his French. But for more on that you should read my blog.
Well, I will leave it at that. I hope I haven't bored you to tears. Though, as my husband points out, if you are reading this line than you must not have been too bored.
A+ (No, I'm not grading myself. This is the French abbreviation for "à plus" which is short for "à plus tard" which is French for "see you later.")
Bonjour et Bienvenue!
Thank you for stopping by for a spell!
I am a 40-something year old American woman. Born in Texas, raised in Las Vegas!
Frenchified for Life
is a fabulous little lifestyle blog about truly embracing French life!
My intent is to simply inspire you to create something unique and beautiful in your everyday life. The French have this wonderful and annoying habit of seeing the world through rose colored glasses, might as well learn something from them!
That said, I lift my glass to you!
By the way, I mention the name Cachou (or The Cash) a lot, I'm referring to her...