Tag Archives: penmanship

Say “Yes” to Cursive

“Pretty home school mama say what?”

Remember.  At one time, we did not have a ball-point ink pen.  We used quills and bottles of ink.  Imagine how this would have looked with printed block, or ball and stick, lettering.  There would have been a considerable number of ink drops, smudges, and smears.

Before the printing press, joined writing was a much quicker way to copy documents and texts, as well as much neater.  These copies are what I consider original sources.  The Declaration of Independence was written in cursive.

Are you going to teach your child to read this historical document or show them a digital cipher?

Perhaps you think that cursive script is old-fashioned and out-dated writing. 

Block letters are the result of printing.  The various joined writing styles were not able to be printed.  This same type of lettering was adapted for electronic displays for appearance reasons too.

The argument against learning cursive is that we type and perform our day-to-day and business communications using the computer.  With the surge in palm and hand devices, like the tablets and netbooks, it would seem that writing as a whole is not needed.  I beg to differ.  Read Script and Scribble.

I would begin to argue that, at the very least, the child will need to learn to read cursive, to process the symbols that are interpreted as block letters.

Cursive is part of our traditional communication.  Socially, cursive is the correct way to communicate as well.  We have, as a society, always written in cursive or some facsimile.

An aside, I think denying our traditions and social etiquettes is what will – and has – disconnected us from each other.  I do not try to stand apart or do the go-with-the-flow for the new trend.  Too much has been tossed aside, such as saying “yes sir” and “no sir” in favor of “yeah” and “uh-huh”.  Our total disregard for anything that our parents did or do has made most of the latter generations vulgar, rude, and socially inept.  I do diverge from the topic at hand, but only slightly.  The evolution or disregard even for the things of the past because they are of the past is not reason or justification.

Cursive has always been the proper and respectful way to communicate with legibility, and speed being a profit.

Beyond these arguments, there are developmental reasons for teaching writing, including cursive, beyond the actual skill.  Visual, perceptual, and motor skill are developed through writing.  The “translation of the sequences of symbols(letters) into lines on paper affects the cognitive ability of the brain …”  Read more at the Reading Horizons, The Foundation for Reading English.  I heartedly agree with their statement that “we may have overlooked in the race to technology in the classroom” an important component, writing cursive.  The foundation is very explicative concerning the cognitive development and improvements as a result of learning cursive.  Again, there is much more learned than just the skill itself.

If you are looking for the value of learning to write cursive, I do believe that you have found it now.  Sometimes we need someone to prove something is worthy of our time.  For more than the actual skill and communicative properties, cursive has value.


Filed under Handwriting, Language Arts

Stop Poor Handwriting

You want legible and beautiful handwriting.  You want a neat and elegant cursive.  Do you know how? Good penmanship is the result of hand strength, proper hold, and fine motor skills.  You need to train the brain and the hand to work together.


1. Choose a style.

2. Use good paper.

3. Practice.

4. Develop hand-eye coordination, visual perception and motor coordination.

Choose a handwriting style.  There are several different styles.  A detailed list is available at Family Phonics.  As you scroll through the list, move your mouse over the link “show alphabet sample” and a complete alphabet in that style will show.

There is a great deal of controversy over methods.  Italic styles have a slant, or slope, to the lettering.  The italic manuscript letters are closer in formation to the cursive letters.  The italic cursive letters are modified versions of what we consider more traditional or modern cursive.  Traditional manuscript letters are upright without any slant, and each letter is made with a circle and a line.  The traditional cursive letters are slanted, and the letters contain a wide variety of loops and flourishes to embellish.  The traditional cursive may not be your chosen style, but samples will be needed to teach letter identification.  Many original documents and sources are written in this flourished style.  You may want to consider a more  modern, or adapted, cursive style that does add loops but not as exuberantly as the traditional cursive style.

For some children, italic writing and traditional print in a reading text will cause confusion and dissociation, which leads to either poor handwriting as they attempt to reproduce what they see frequently while crossed with the style that they are being taught or difficulty in learning to read because of failed letter recognition.  Consider your choice of reading material, workbooks, and handwriting style choice.  Can you easily use your materials in order to encourage good handwriting?  Most phonics workbooks have provided lines, but where you see lines with examples or illustrations of writing you may want to reconsider either your style choice or workbook choice.

Choose a paper and stick with it.  Do not switch from notebook paper to lined paper.  Choose grade-appropriate paper that has adequate line spacing for the grade, or age.  Adapting the constant width and depth of a letter will lead to poor letter formation.  You can print your own paper from the DonnaYoung.org.  At the very least, move from the 5/8″ rule to 1/2″ rule before transitioning to wide-ruled notebook paper.  Use the 5/8-ruled paper for K and 1st grade.  Teach cursive.  Move from the 5/8-ruled to the 1/2-ruled with center-dashed line.  If you have poor handwriting now, are you using the correctly ruled paper?

I am a firm believer that handwriting is something that needs to be taught.  Instruction must be provided.  It is necessary instruction for development, including cognitive development.  For example, children who learn to play the piano are better at math.  Of course, there are the exceptions on both sides of this statement, but studies show strong relationships, and thus infer.

Practice is necessary.  You must practice.  You do not need hours worth of practice.  You can accomplish quite a lot in a mere 15 minutes a day.

Outside of style, paper, and practice, consider other reasons that your child does not write legibly.  Handwriting develops hand-eye coordination, visual perception, and motor coordination.  However, we must be active in setting the stage for effective results and legible writing.  Have you used Cheerios for your little one to teach the two-fingered grasp?  For a moment, consider the finger dexterity and skill needed for many of the things we do today.  Please keep in mind and realize the age appropriateness of the child too.  To be successful and supportive, provide other activities.  Tracing, outlining, and connecting the dots will develop hand-eye coordination and visual perception.  I suggest painting, puzzles, threading beads, play dough, clay, cutting with scissors, et cetera to develop motor coordination and perception.

My last comment, get your children outside – running, batting, hopping, jumping rope, et cetera.  All of these things that we took for granted as children helped us to develop and be prepared for our academic lives.  Our gross motor skill development is important and affects our handwriting.  You may laugh and roll eyes at this point.  Ask any teacher of 25 years or more and s/he will tell you that a child who can hop on one leg and switch to hop on the other is ready to hold a pencil and learn to write.  Our bodies are not isolated little bits of machinery, but instead, they are complex units with much needed part development.

I spent months researching writing.  I honestly cannot tell you where I read or how I derived this information because it has been so long ago.  What I can tell you is that my mother began teaching 30 years ago.  She taught K through the second grade.  She taught me to write.  I am told often how beautifully my name and other written material appear.

Links and Resources

Links and Resources

Fix It Write

Op-Art: The Write Stuff

The Handwriting Is on the Wall


Handwriting Personality Profile

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Filed under Handwriting, Language Arts