In our homeschool, we teach a range of subjects, but we focus mainly on the 3Rs this year. When we started in September, I realized the R of ‘Riting had to wait for a semester. We kept plenty busy with math and reading, as well as monthly science classes, weekly violin lessons, Home Ec., crafts, P.E., service projects, and Adventurers.
The overall task of getting into a routine took some time, too. Besides, I just knew my son was not ready for the effort required in learning good penmanship. He can print (that’s writing only upper case letters, manuscript-style, e.g. HOMESCHOOL). He signs his name on his worksheets and he can write a short card for somebody. This gave me time to look into several handwriting curricula.
Here are 7 factors I considered when choosing handwriting curriculum:
1. The age of the student. Fine motor skills, essential for handwriting, don’t even develop until after the age of six.
2. The gender of the student. Boys mature more slowly than girls.
3. Cursive or manuscript? It’s a big debate. Personally, I only teach cursive and printing (needed for filling out forms by hand). I don’t teach manuscript at all.
4. Right-handed or left-handed student? The position of the hand and the strokes are different for a south paw.
5. Start with big letters and go smaller OR start at the letter size your student will use throughout his life? Again, a big debate. Some people say writing big letters equates drawing, which is different from penmanship. I tend to agree.
6. Should you use a curriculum that does not change the size of the lines? To me, changing from one line-spacing to another is like teaching somebody to play cello and then moving them to a bass a few months into it. Why make them re-adjust the strokes to a different size line-spacing?
7. Consider a curriculum that offers not only horizontal guide lines, but also slanted ones, so the child knows how far he can go sideways.
Personally, I am using a Romanian handwriting curriculum similar to what I grew up with. Initially, I planned on using Cursive First, which I really like, but they don’t have slanted lines, like the Romanian handwriting curriculum. I said it before and I will say it again: homeschooling allows for a tailored approach, so we might as well take advantage of it.