Homeschool Handwriting Curriculum Forum

handwriting

 

Hi everyone! Welcome to day 5 of my Homeschool Curriculum Forum posts! Today we’re talking about handwriting.

there are a few different theories about handwriting out there. I personally prefer to stick with manuscript from preschool – second grade then I move on to introduce cursive to my students. I also like to stick to traditional manuscript as opposed to D’Nealian print. I know I’ll probably get a few different comments on this, but my line of reasoning is this; Students need to know how to print.

They need to also know how to print neatly.

On pretty much any form they will experience in life, they’ll need to print. If they move onto cursive too soon I don’t feel that students get a good enough grasp of printing neatly prior to the transition. And since most curriculum only offers cursive once you get into higher grades, I take advantage of the traditional method of manuscript until then.

I like to start out with A Reason for Handwriting. I like their colorful pages, and the fact that my kids are practicing writing scripture which is also nice. One thing I don’t love about this? Is that there aren’t typically enough lessons to get us through one full year, so I find that I’m ordering the next level about now. I guess that’s not a huge deal though right?

I do like their transition (Level T) year as well, I find that it does a good job in the transition from manuscript to cursive. I have previously started this when my kids hit 3rd grade when I find that their motor skills are such they can easily make the transition. I have tried to introduce cursive in 2nd grade and found that motor skill wise they just weren’t ready yet, so I’m sticking to cursive in 3rd grade.

areasonforhandwriting

 Pros:

  • Uses scripture as handwriting practice
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Repetitive, and can get boring after awhile

That said, this upcoming year I’m actually going to switch to BJU Handwriting. Partially just to give my kids a change since they’re kind of getting bored with the same exact handwriting pages each day.

And also because I like the more upright cursive I found in the fourth and fifth grade handwriting books. Turbo has a hard time visually reading super slanted (a.k.a. more traditional) cursive and I think this type might suit him better. I also like that there are a little more variety of activities from day to day with this curriculum as well. So we’ll give it a go and I’ll keep you posted on what we think!

I don’t typically purchase the teacher’s manuals for handwriting, so if someone out there thinks I need to please speak up! I usually just take a look at what they’re working on that day, do a few samples for them on the white board if they need it, then let them have at it. I do check for neatness and also make them read whatever it is they’ve written to me out loud just so I know they understand what they’re writing. It’s also good to show them if they can’t read what they’ve written then there’s a good chance others won’t be able to read it either.

bjuhandwriting

 

Pros:

  • Activities vary from day to day.
  • Uses the D’Nealian font if you prefer that.

Cons:

  • Some of the capital letters are different than traditional cursive.

So, now comes the fun part!

What are your favorite Handwriting curriculum, resources, websites, etc? Leave a comment below discussing your choices for this year and why.

Feel free to ask questions or reply to each other too!

It’s my way of doing a forum without actually doing a forum haha!

And hopefully this will help us all as we start the process of researching curriculum, and trying to decide what will be the best fit for our homeschool.

Note: Please keep today’s conversations geared towards Handwriting, I will be posting one for each subject separately so we can keep our comments organized.

 

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post, I may however be affiliated with one or more products mentioned. The opinions expressed in this post were not influenced by the company. They are products I have used and felt like sharing, cuz’ it’s my blog and I can if I want to.

73 Comments

  • Lisa Palladino April 17, 2013 at 5:02 am

    We’ve added a new handwriting program to the variety of methods we use to accommodate different learning styles: Fundanoodle – http://www.fundanoodle.com.

    The younger students love the manuscript activities but the cursive books are brand new and we’ve just started using them, so I can’t really comment on that part of their program (yet!).

    Reply
  • Eddie - The Usual Mayhem April 17, 2013 at 5:13 am

    For younger kids, up to about grade 3, I love Handwriting Without Tears. I have two lefties out of 3 kids and the pages are designed to work for both righties and lefties.

    After that we move on to copywork, either that I make or from Happy Scribe and always themed to what we’re studying.

    Reply
    • Brirt April 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      What tools did you use from handwriting without tears? I am debating on getting mat man for my almost 4 year old and 18 month old.

      Reply
  • Karen April 17, 2013 at 5:29 am

    My third grader still has SLOPPY printing. That, combined with no interest in learning cursive, meant I put it off. Now he says he wants to learn cursive in 4th grade. I don’t know if I’m going to buy a curriculum or try to put something together myself, maybe from donnayoung.org. If I do buy a graded or leveled curriculum, would I need to buy Grade/Level 3? He’s put off by anything that’s marked lower than where he is. (We used AAS Level 1 for a couple of months. He hated it. Part of what he didn’t like was that it was Level 1 instead of 3).

    Reply
    • Bridgett April 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

      If you purchase a graded or leveled curriculum you need to purchase the first year that they start teaching it so they learn the form….

      Reply
    • Lisa April 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Good for you for waiting until he was ready/interested. One of the nice things about Handwriting without Tears is the books aren’t marked with grades for the same reason you are concerned about. Just start with the first cursive book.

      Reply
  • Christine Apolenis April 17, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I love Zaner Bloser handwriting – we are doing traditional manuscript in kindergarten this year. The pages are colorful and engaging and I love how they show them how to form the letters.

    Reply
    • Eunora June 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you so much for posting this. I have looked through at least a half-dozen handwriting programs and have not been happy with them for one reason or another. I looked into Zaner Bloser from your recommendation posted here and LOVE it. I will be able to use it for four of my students each in different grades. I was so pleased to FINALLY find a program that I liked from K-6th grade! Thanks again for mentioning it!!

      Reply
    • MommiMelson September 16, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Do you actually need the teachers manual for this curriculum? I loved the student book and the price but when I looked into the teachers manual it was SUPER EXPENSIVE. Thanks!!!

      Reply
      • Melissa November 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        I have heard that you don’t need the teacher’s manual, it is intended for classroom teacher.

        Reply
  • Joan Johnson April 17, 2013 at 5:37 am

    I am definitely going to have to look into these books and suggestions!!!! But can some one please help me with ideas to make writing/coloring more enjoyable for my 4yo. He does NOT like to color or practice his writing. He either just refuses or tries to whine, or he goes as fast as he can to be done with it and the work looks horrible. How do I make it more fun for him. He loves making letters and words out of shapes, noodles, etc. The actual writing and coloring is what he does not like. Thank you for any help that you can give!!!

    Reply
    • Jennifer April 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

      I would try downloading a coloring sheet or buying a book that his is really interested in and either you or someone else that is special to him sit down and color with him. Show him how to color in small strokes. Also for writing, try a whiteboard with colorful dry erase markers or a alphabet dry erase workbook that is colorful. My daughter loves the fact that she can write and then wipe it clean! I hope that helps.

      Reply
    • Saree April 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Sounds like my 4 year old son 🙂 we tried the Kumon tracing book and now the Kumon mazes book has him doing multiple pages and asking if he can do more! His skills have really improved! Might be worth a try for your son 🙂

      Reply
    • Allyson April 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      My son did that at that age. He is now 7 and snapped out of it on his own probably about 5 1/2. He would NOT color or write. I always had coloring books and crayons/markers/colored pencils available for him, and we moved on with school that didn’t require writing. He started coloring color by numbers books and would sit down and color lots of pages when HE decided. He is really bright so we continued doing school, and I blamed the writing on maturity. I didn’t worry about it. He still doesn’t like writing, but he can write neatly when he is supposed to. I am pretty sure that he is on target for a 7 year old boy, but a 7 year old girl would probably have MUCH better handwriting than he does. Actually my 5 year old girl almost writes as well as he does (she definitely writes faster).
      I would advise not pressing the issue. You can do LOTS of school without writing. You have to pick your battles and if you make this an issue, it might get ugly.

      Reply
      • Deidre April 18, 2013 at 3:06 am

        I completely agree with Allyson. It sounded like you were describing my son. At 4 yrs old don’t push it. One day, when my son was about 5 1/2 he decided he wanted to write. We use Handwriting Without Tears. It is working well for us. He’s almost 7 and has just started coloring whole pages.

        Reply
    • Lisa April 17, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      There is no reason to stick to paper & pencil. How about writing letters or words in shaving cream on the shower walls. Or in flour on a baking sheet. Or on your back while you guess what he’s writing. The possibilities are endless when you look for creative mediums around your house.

      Reply
    • Wendy Brown April 18, 2013 at 6:04 am

      Don’t stress about handwiting at 4. He needs time to develop fine motor skils so follow his lead. Have fun with developing and strengthening those hand muscles for writing. Let him use playdough. Let him trace his fingers through shaving cream on a cookie sheet (or use rice) or through pudding – then of course, he licks it off his finger! You can do these outside! If you want it less messy, fill a large ziploc bag with paint. Tape it well across the top so that none leaks out and let him trace through the paint with his finger. My kiddo always liked painting with a brush rather than coloring. Let him paint with water on a chalkboard.
      Later, my kiddo liked colored pencils better than crayons. He still does. If you use crayons, try the triangular ones in the beginning. When he begins more structured writing, try the letters shaped in bubble format (rather than tracing the dots). The child just creates lines within the bubbles. For some reason, that really worked better with my little guy. In fact, his writing really improved when we began using Math U See. They use the bubble format when teaching kids to write their numbers. It’s as if they provide the outer boundary lines and the kids write within those lines. I hope that makes sense and I hope it helps. Make writing fun as much as you can. It will get easier – I promise. With boys, especially, they often seem to struggle with writing even as they get older. Learn from my mistake. Save both of you some grief by making writing lessons shorter and build slowly. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Amanda June 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Boys typically aren’t interested in handwriting and coloring. If you focus on letter formation and incorporate it into fun games like others have listed (shaving cream, etc) then the writing will come. You can have him make the letters with his body, roll out playdoh into lines and curves to form the letters. If he is like my son you can have him collect leaves, branches from outside and form the letters with them. In my experience kids love to write with dry erase markers on a mirror or dry erase board also. I wouldn’t stress over it at 4. 🙂

      Reply
      • Amanda June 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

        Also the app “Letter School” on the ipad is a lot of fun if you have one. We do not do a lot of work on computers, etc. but I really like this app. My daughter recently turned 3 and can write a lot of her letters with correct formation because of this app.

        Reply
  • Meghan Hunt April 17, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I use seeds of worship CDs for bible memory and the website bible story printables has coordinating handwriting sheets in print and cursive for each song. We put the verse in a plastic sleeve to practice the verse each day and then write final copy on Friday. The kids love the songs and we get bible an handwriting done at the same time! And the printables are free!

    Reply
    • Angie April 17, 2013 at 8:33 am

      Can you tell me more about the books/cds you use and for what ages? I see lots of different choices. Thanks!

      Reply
    • Pam April 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks for the info on the printables! I planned to use Seeds for a core Bible memory work curriculum next year and it will be nice to have these go-alongs for my 1st grader.

      Reply
    • Heather April 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Would you post a link for those printables. I can’t seem to find them and I think I am in love with these CDs. Where have they been all my life?

      Reply
  • Roberta Grewell April 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I use BJU Handwriting. For the most part, I like it but I do not like that some of the capital letters are different than ‘traditional’ cursive. And no, Erica, in my opinion you do not need to get the parents manual 🙂

    Reply
    • Jackie B. April 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Thanks for your input, Roberta! We are currently using A Reason for Handwriting as well, but were also looking into BJU for this fall. You mentioned that the upper case letters were different; do you think it would add confusion to my son’s cursive writing that has been using ARFH for the past 2 years?

      Reply
      • Joyice April 25, 2013 at 5:46 am

        It is drastic enough for kids to be confused. The letters still look like the the correct like, if you had to call it. I cannot remember all of them but I remember the “E” looks like a backwards 3. BJU begins that way because they start the kids writing in pre-cursive so the transition is easier. I have boys in K4 and 1st. My 4 year old began w/ BJU and we skipped the letters that were not traditional print. We supplemented with Erica’s LOTW for that. My 1st grader (who was beginning 2nd grade with BJU completed it w/ no issues. He would say, “wow mommy look at this “E!” It looks funny.” So he was aware that is was an “E” and he was fine with it. Half way through the book it began cursive. So I stopped it there because he was only 6 then and I did not want to give him cursive at that age.

        Reply
  • Cassie DiStefano April 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

    We have used Abeka since K3 for handwriting. I really love the traditional style of manuscript and cursive that they use.

    Once they get to 3rd grade they have practice at the top of the page and then they either copy a bible verse, a poem, famous quote, etc. They also have a “look it up” on most pages where they have to answer a question about an animal by referencing the animal dictionary in the back of their book. Towards the end of the 3rd grade book they write facts about Canadian provinces or territories and each United State (state flower, bird, capital, etc.). I like that they are using research skills and incorporate geography, history and bible. I also like that they are transitioned to write on regular notebook lines.

    I am currently researching and switching up some of my curriculum. I was looking at a Reason for Handwriting because I like that they get a finished product to share with family at the end and their lessons look a little shorter but I just may stick with Abeka for handwriting again.

    I’m excited to see everyone else’s ideas and curriculum choices!

    Reply
    • Bridgett April 17, 2013 at 8:19 am

      I am in the same vote… I have used Abeka since K now we are finishing up 3rd grade. I think I should have waited to start the cursive part so early like they offer. I am trying to decide if I am gonna stay with Abeka or make up my own for next year. I love that she had to look up the info for the animals and the states.

      Looking for some good suggestions.

      Reply
  • Megan April 17, 2013 at 6:59 am

    We use a mixture of Handwriting without tears and A Reason for Handwriting. I have my 2nd grader learn the cursive in the HWT and practice in the ARFH books. They aren’t the same font, as HWT is a simpler cursive font, but it gives her the idea of what she should be doing. I like how each step of writing the letter is explained. I over hear her saying the steps as she goes. For my Kindergartner I like HWT and then we just make our own copy work. Thank you for doing this series Erica!

    Reply
  • Sarah Osterman April 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I just started the Handwriting Without Tears workbook with my kindergartner. She likes the gray blocks and it helps her not have as many reversals. She knows how to write all her letters so the big challenge for us is focusing on NEATNESS and slowing down. I also struggle with her with what someone mentioned earlier about not wanting to take her time and color thoroughly. She LOVES to draw and creates elaborate sketches but lacks either the patience or the fine motor to fill in with color very thoroughly. Constant variety of art supplies seems to help with motivation on that.
    I plan on teaching cursive once print is mastered, probably in second grade. I do have her do some copy work now but with sentences I write on manuscript paper that pertain to our days lesson or recent experiences etc.

    Reply
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