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Third-Grader Awaits Lesson For Cursive G

GRAND RAPIDS, MI–Area third-grader Abigail Werner is anxiously awaiting the lesson for the cursive letter G, George Washington Carver Elementary School sources revealed Monday.

Anxiously awaiting further lessons, Abigail Werner practices the cursive letter D.

"Abigail has come up to my desk five times in the past three days asking when we would be learning G," teacher Ellen Honig said. "I told her we'd probably get to it sometime next week, but that I couldn't make any promises."

Honig began a cursive unit on Nov. 10 as part of her class' regular language-arts instruction. After teaching her students the five vowels, enabling them to "jump right into" writing full words, Honig moved to the beginning of the alphabet, focusing on one letter per session. The most recent letter taught was D.

Werner has paid careful attention to each lesson, practicing the letters at home, on the bus, and at the lunch table. Last Friday, Werner chose to spend recess inside to practice the letter B. In the first week of cursive instruction, Werner went through an entire 50-sheet pack of penmanship paper.

"I know the A and the B and the C and the D and the E and the I and the O and the U," said Werner, holding up a sheet of paper bearing meticulously rendered, cursive versions of such words as "Cab," "Cub," "Abe," and "Ace." "But I can't wait until we learn the G."

With cursive lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only, Werner may have to wait at least a week to learn the seventh letter of the alphabet.

"We should get to G very soon, but you never know," Honig said. "We could have a fire drill, or the multiplication-filmstrip series I ordered might finally come in. I also have to consider that the capital F usually gives students a fair amount of trouble. That may take a whole day in and of itself, separate from the lowercase F."

Until G is taught, Werner will continue to practice the letters she has learned thus far in the "Puppies And Kittens" Trapper Keeper she keeps in her tote tray at school.

"I'm glad we're learning our cursive letters now, because Mom said she's going to let me write my own name on the Christmas cards this year," Werner said. "I want to write my name like a grown-up. And when you draw a picture, you're supposed to sign your name in cursive."

For the past week, Werner has been writing "Abbie" in cursive at the top of her papers. Though she had long spurned "Abbie" as too childish for a third-grader, preferring the more mature "Abigail," the name does not require any letters she does not know.

Werner stressed that her motives in learning cursive G are not entirely selfish.

"There are lots of people that start with the letter G," Werner said. "My dad's name is Gary, and our dog's name is Grady. And Grandma. Mrs. Honig has a G in her name. And Grand Rapids. And George Washington Carver Elementary. The Powerpuff Girls have a big G. And God, too."

Karen Werner, 38, has been supportive in her daughter's quest for cursive knowledge.

"Abigail's really excited about that G," Werner said. "She had to go to the dentist yesterday but refused to until I called Mrs. Honig to make sure the class wouldn't be learning G that day. They were only reviewing the vowels, thank goodness."

"I'd teach Abigail the rest of the letters myself, but, to be honest, I don't even remember how a lot of them look anymore," Werner added. "I couldn't make a capital Q to save my life."

Werner said this is not the first time her daughter has become fixated on a school subject. In May, she developed a three-week obsession with wooly mammoths. During summer vacation, she made 28 baskets using a paper-weaving technique she learned at a library recreation program.

Just last month, the 9-year-old became so interested in her classroom's hermit crabs, she requested to be permanently placed on the cage-cleaning duty chart.

"When Abigail is curious about something, she really goes all out," Honig said. "Whether it's the four food groups, pilgrims, rocks and minerals, or penguins, she really throws herself into it."

According to child psychologist Dr. Alexandra Levens, Werner's obsession with the cursive G is perfectly healthy.

"Abigail is an eager, precocious child who wants to do things adults can do, like sign their names," Levens said. "This shows intelligence and maturity on her part. Nevertheless, I'm glad I won't be around when Mrs. Honig tells her she has to wait another two weeks to learn the lower-case L she needs to write 'Abigail.'"

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