When I began homeschooling 8 years ago, I taught my son handwriting from the same curriculum I had used as a child…D’Nealian.
My son did quite well with them. However, I noticed as he grew older, he began to abandon the D’Nealian cursive I had so painstakingly taught him. He went back to a form of manuscript that oddly enough, looked much like his father’s handwriting.
When it was my 2nd child’s turn to learn handwriting, I did what any good homeschooling mother does…second-guess herself!
I searched for something a little less frilly in the hopes it would be easier for her to retain. Initially, I tried Handwriting Without Tears, but quickly realized some children forget to read the “Without Tears” part and still manage to struggle with it.
I also tried very simple, rather dull little handbooks, but they were just that…dull.
What I ended up landing on A Reason for Handwriting.
Another homeschool mom was using it and told me about the pages in the back of the book that were for writing out the Bible verse at the end of the week. She told me how her children would send those verses to their grandparents with a letter written on the back of the sheet. All this made handwriting something relevant in the child’s life…exactly what I wanted! Megan did quite well with it and loved having a beautiful finished project each week.
Now, before you run out and buy this curriculum, I must tell you I firmly believe you can teach your child handwriting WITHOUT a workbook. I also must add here that my littles are NOT doing A Reason for Handwriting because their Phonics curriculum (which I adore and will tell you about in another post) has a built-in handwriting section to it.
I am also going to make a rather bold statement here about handwriting in general that will qualify WHY I think you can teach your child handwriting without a workbook:
EVERYONE finds their own handwriting style.
Mine looks like a mish-mash between manuscript and cursive. My mom’s is a rounded looking all cursive hand. My sister’s has a modern, slightly jagged flair to it. My husband writes all manuscript (except for his signature). And we’ve all laughed about our doctor’s handwriting! Yet, every single one of these people was taught some form of handwriting that was supposed to look like everyone else’s.
Cursive has its place. It is a way to write quickly and to learn to read other people’s handwriting; however, it is not the be all end all. Teach it. Then let your child find their own expression in their handwriting!
I definitely think you should emphasize neatness, but if in the end, your child’s handwriting looks very little like what you taught them, don’t fret! Can they write quickly? Is it legible? Can they read other people’s handwriting? Those are really the things that matter here. Not if they have learned to exactly copy the workbook’s way of writing.
OK, quick word on how to teach handwriting without a workbook (once again, keep in mind I DO use a workbook and someone here might leave a great comment about how they make it work in their homeschool…so be sure and scroll through the comments section! The information I am offering below is based on what I have read about teaching without a workbook):
*Teach the lowercase alphabet first.
*Write out in your own hand the letters and help your child trace them.
*Give them lined paper to practice making those strokes.
*From there, give them simple copywork. Begin with one word, then move to two word sentences, then to longer sentences, etc.
*When they ask how to spell or write something, don’t just do it for them. Write the word they want in pencil on a separate piece of paper for them to copy onto their page.
*Have them write letters to grandparents and friends, grocery lists, how-to lists for siblings, etc. Make handwriting relevant!
That last sentence is key to all of this Lifestyle of Learning stuff…
Make learning relevant!
No matter what subject it is, impress upon your children the WHY behind what you are teaching. Children know when they are being duped into following a line of busy work. They also have an uncanny way of zoning out when they believe what they are learning has no reason behind it, no matter how noble your motives might be. Give them meaning. Give them true wisdom! Tell them how God Himself used handwriting!
And the sooner you can walk away from the workbooks, the better!
So, how are you teaching handwriting as a way of life, rather than something random in a workbook?
What is a Lifestyle of Learning? Read about our homeschooling philosophy and the other posts in this series HERE!