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Teaching Handwriting

I wrote the following e-mail to a friend this morning, and I thought it might be helpful to someone else, too….Her question:

My question is about handwriting. This seems to be my weak area of teaching. My almost 9yo has deplorable writing and my 7 year old is no better. What do you use? What can I use with my 4yo so he doesn’t develop the same bad habits?

My answer:
You know, I think our poor firstborn children get to be such guinea pigs! LOL! At least, my son and daughter were. My son is 11 now, and my daughter is 8, and it seems like about 2 years ago, we were right where you are. In fact, I can’t say that my son’s handwriting has improved THAT much, but at least I can read it now. But I switched curriculum on him so many times, it’s no wonder he couldn’t ever remember how to write his letters.

Now I teach my kids cursive from kindergarten on. I know that sounds strange, but my third child (also a son, now age 6) has really great handwriting. My 8yo daughter’s handwriting is pretty, too.

About two years ago, I stumbled on this website for Cursive First: and I was convinced! I ordered it and I still love it. It comes with yellow cards (I laminated mine), one for each letter of the alphabet, and it suggests an order for teaching them so that it’s easier to learn them. They also Teaching Handwritinghave a clock stamp so you can stamp a picture of a clock on their papers to give them a reference of where to start when writing a letter. (For instance, the cursive letter c starts at 2 o’clock, goes back around the clock until you get to 4 o’clock, where it then “tags” the next letter.)

Back then, we took a couple months and had a handwriting lesson each day on our whiteboard. All the kids, even my 9yo boy. They all learned together, and we just had a concentrated time of review. My little guy (age 4 then) learned it SO well, and the older ones had a harder time breaking bad habits. But they all improved, and now we had a common vocabulary and common way of writing that we could refer to.

Then I purchased ABeka handwriting books, since they also believe in starting from the beginning with cursive and since their letter formation is very similar to Cursive First, especially in the lower-case letters. My younger son has used ABeka from that time, and my daughter (2nd grade now) is still using it. My son (5th grade now) isn’t using it any more. Maybe he should be…

So the moral of the story is, whatever method you use, try to be consistent and stick with it. I’m sold on cursive, but I think the same principle could hold true for any style.

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