Neatness – An academic must!

My son and I began our homeschooling journey today. Or rather resumed. Since he went to public school for one and a half years, we have much catching up to do. And one of the first items on my ‘to do’ list is to undo some of the damage which occurred while he was under the tutelage of his publicly funded education.

One of these items is to bring back a sense of neatness to his work. Apparently they don’t much care in school about that, which I find flabbergasting to be honest.  But nope, they didn’t give a moments interest whether the turned in work was neat and clean or a total mess. I find that incomprehensible but not surprising. After all, when Missy left her private school to homeschool with me, her mathwork was a disaster. The messiness wasn’t just unsightly but it was a problem too. Because of the mess, she made mistakes that would have been avoided had she been taught to be neat and careful.

Amidst many tears, trembling lower lips, and much pouting, I kept insisting, and showing her what I expected of her. And after a few days she saw for herself how good she really was when she stayed neat and tidy. Today, I am proud to say, her math workbooks are a treat to behold. I think I’ll take a picture to show you.

Now it is Bear’s turn. I don’t accept sloppy work. He will, just as his big sister did, find out, that sloppy work results in twice as much work, because he’ll just have to do it all over again. I know this sounds harsh, and I must tread gently and not compare him to his sister. But I expect him to work at his best level.



This is a photo from one of her older notebooks.


  1. I have discovered that boys are worse than girls. My son will never be a neat person when it comes to writing. He has rewritten many items, but it is not making a difference. He had really pretty handwriting when little, but for several years now his handwriting has gotten so much worse. He can do calligraphy when he takes his time, but his “regular” handwriting is just not very legible. His father and grandfather are the same. Both are very orderly people, but you cannot read what they write. So I think there is something genetic going on here.

    I have to admit that I never understood why American schools don’t pay any attention to neatness and handwriting. All these “fliegende Zettel” and no “Schulhefte.” I do prefer the German system and I use “Schulhefte” for my children. It makes it easier to be a neat person. And I do have my children practice their handwriting in each grade. So good for you that your children also learn to do it right.

  2. Eva, nice to hear your thoughts on this. Especially as a fellow German. While I don’t expect my son to be as tidy as his sister, or to develop stellar penmanship (I know I didn’t) I can tell when he does his best and when he doesn’t. And true, the worksheets favored in American schools, do not promote a sense of continuity which allows a child or parent to reflect on improvements and development made over the course of a semester or year. We prefer Schulhefte as well and any note booking or loose leaf items similar to are placed in page protectors in a pretty binder. Both my parents have excellent penmanship. Out of curiosity what ‘Schreibschrift’ are you teaching your children? I like the ‘Lateinische Ausgangsschrift’.

    • Yes, that is what we are doing, Lateinische Ausgangsschrift. I do not like the other, newer ones. They don’t flow as well. My sister learned the “Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift” as did at least two of my brothers. All three do not write cursive anymore, but print their letters. My other brother, my other sister, and I learned the Lateinische Ausgangsschrift and we all still write cursive. I wonder if there is a connection.

      You know what I don’t understand with my son’s handwriting? His letters fall on the lines on his paper, i.e. the line goes through half of his letters. Why can’t he write them above the line like everybody else? It always looks as if the line crosses out what he has written. He does have glasses and gets his eyes checked, but this habit really puzzles me.

      I like the sheet protector idea. I normally just put them into a binder, but the punched holes do tear after a while. I have to remember that.

      Your daughter’s page does look very orderly and is very legible, by the way.

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