Give your child the gift of beautiful, legible handwriting!
Tips for Choosing Homeschool Handwriting Curriculum
Thoughts on Teaching Handwriting in the Homeschool Setting
By Harriet Yoder
When customers ask about choosing handwriting curriculum, I recommend using two handwriting workbooks. The first is a manuscript handwriting workbook. When it is time for cursive, buy a cursive penmanship workbook.
Teaching handwriting in the homeschool setting is different from the classroom setting. Homeschool teachers watch the student’s handwriting and provide instant feedback. Our students don’t need busywork. Once they learn basic printing, they don’t need to review it every year. We don’t need to use a repetitive handwriting book every year.
Why not teach a different handwriting course every year?
When you see an incorrect letter show your student how to write it. Say “Let’s make that letter like this!” Show the child how to do it the right way. Then ask the child to write a couple for practice. Draw a little heart or star above the best one. If the child makes a fantastic/perfect letter or word, I question them (it’s a joke!), “Did I make this beautiful letter or did you?” They always think that’s hilarious and TRY harder to make nicely shaped letters to “fool” me.
Recommendations for Beginning Homeschool Handwriting Curriculum
I recommend the BJUP Handwriting 1 Worktext for the homeschool student who is learning to print. This could range from an advanced 4 or 5 year old to a late blooming third grader who is ready to catch up. The key here is to have a student who wants to practice his penmanship with some excellent work pages.
After completing this book, your student should be ready for cursive. I would recommend Reason for Handwriting Transitions. It is a great value for three sets of lessons (basic, transition, and cursive). It has practice exercises and requires less teacher time.
Ready for Cursive Handwriting?
I have two simple guidelines to determine when to start teaching cursive handwriting.
- Has the child mastered printing?
- Tall letters are tall.
- Short letters are short.
- Printing is neat and flowing.
- Can he print all the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet from memory.
There are two aspects to learning cursive:
- Learning to make the new shapes of cursive letters
- Learning to make the connections.
Learning the new shapes is the less difficult for most children. Making the connections usually causes the problem.
If your student doesn’t understand this, make a special notebook with 26 pages. Fold each page in half lengthwise to make two columns. On page 1 in the first column write (in cursive) aa on line 1, ab on line 2, ac on line 3, ad on line 4, etc. The student will copy each “connection” about two or three times. SAVE the second column of each page for later. On page 2 you will write the b connections (ba, bb, bc, bd, be, etc.). On page 3, you will do the c connections. Continue until you create page 26 for the z connections!
Maybe you guessed the second column is for repeating with upper case letters. The upper case letters and their connections. Some upper case cursive letters stand alone. Others connect, but you have to practice! Repeat from page 1: Aa, Ab, Ac, Ad, etc. to page 26 Za, Zb, Zc, Zd, etc.
Some of the connections aren’t “Englishly” possible. There are other languages which use them. Children create unusual words when they write. And so do I!
New American Cursive Handwriting Curriculum
The New American Cursive Penmanship program from Memoria Press is now available. They teach cursive handwriting to children in first grade with a simplified cursive. It follows the recommendation of the Penmanship Council of America.
Horizons Penmanship for Grades 1 to 6
Another good handwriting program comes from Horizons. The Horizons Penmanship workbooks and teacher’s guides are available for first through sixth grades. Our sons used these when they were in junior high to spruce up their handwriting.
Recommendations for Handwriting for the Older Student
These tips will help the secondary student who needs better cursive skills.
For a beautiful cursive handwriting, use the Spencerian style. It is the old fashioned style taught in the late 1800’s. It has more ruffles and flourishes than modern handwriting styles. The workbooks offer more practice in doing the different strokes than typical handwriting curriculum. You don’t have to add all the extra curlicues to your cursive writing. It is reasonably priced.
If your older student prefers to print, then take a look at the Getty Dubay Italic Cursive. (also called Portland Italic). It is a printed italic with connection letters that resemble cursive. It looks nice and is easy to master. The book I recommend, in that case, is the Write Now! Course.