Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Best Writing Curriculum for Elementary Schools

At this point in time we do not recommend any specific handwriting curriculum.  Our current effort is being placed on simply having cursive handwriting reinstated in the elementary curriculum since it has been omitted in the Common Core Curriculum.  

Ideally, children would focus on writing readiness in kindergarten by engaging in activities that would help develop both the gross and fine motor muscles and learn to hold a writing instrument using a proper grip. Beginning in first grade, children would learn to write using printed/manuscript  lettering. Emphasis would be placed on correct direction formation of these letters and legibility.  

Far too many educators today have no idea of proper writing posture: sitting at a desk, straight back, feet on the floor, paper slanted appropriately for a left- or right-handed writer. Instruction would be given in proper letter formations using standard acceptable directionality. Historically the most effective teaching method was the see it (teacher demonstrates proper letter formation), say it (simple words accompany the letter formation process), do it (the child writes the letter following the method demonstrated by the teacher).  

This method employs the three main methods of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Enough time/practice should be given so that the writing process becomes automatic and the child then can focus on what is being written. Towards the end of the first grade most children will be proficient enough in printing that they can move on to cursive writing being taught during Grade Two.  

Following the teaching of cursive writing, children should be required to continue writing mainly in cursive and some printing for the remainder of the elementary school years. Emphasis would move towards continued legibility and increased speed in writing. By the end of eighth grade most children should have achieved competency in both manuscript printing and cursive writing.  During the high school years students would be permitted to choose to write either in cursive or printing.  Some handwriting should be required in high school as well,  possibly in both English and Math classes.

Edda Manley 


  1. Campaign for Cursive


    How much difference, in your view, should be allowed (or required) between the models used for the handwriting that's taught first (manuscript style) and for the handwriting that is brought in later (cursive style)? Specifically, should the customary change of slant be imposed (or even recommended) as part of changing the student's handwriting exercises from one style to the next? 
          What, graphologically and otherwise, are the consequences of changing a person's slant from zero degrees [vertical] to 20 or 25 or 30 degrees [extreme right], as is customarily required in manuscript-then-cursive instruction in North America?

    Similarly, is it important — or is it even advisable — to likewise require the currently customary instructional jump from absolutely zero joining to absolutely 100% joining? 
            What are the graphological, educational, and other consequences of imposing such a rapid leap from one extreme to the other — let alone, of imposing it concurrently with /a/ the usual change in slant (from vertical to extreme right) and/or the usually customary major changes in letter-forms which are also customarily required to be accomplished during the same months of change-over? 
          Is the "Campaign for Cursive" restricting "cursive" only to models that present and demand 100% joining immediately after an initial stage of 0% joining, or is it following the advice of (say) graphologist Kathleen Dickinson (who has defined "cursive" — in correspondence which I'm  prepared to quote on request — as any handwriting which includes _any_ degree of joining? (By that definition, of course, many handwritings would be called "cursive" that the ordinary public calls "printing" or "a mix of printing and cursive." Given that the "Campaign for Cursive" is  bankrolled by AHAF (and is spearheaded by Ma. Dickinson, whom I thank for her definition of "cursive"), is the "Campaign for Cursive" indeed prepared to classify as "cursive" a type of handwriting that many people — including most of the majority who write in such a way — regard as "not cursive" if you ask them?)

         Further: what research establishes the second grade (or any other particular grade) as the best time for making any or all of the particular changes (described above) that are involved in that customary canyon-jump from one handwriting style to another?

  2. In this article you mention "visual, auditory and kinesthetic." Omitted is tactile. The feeling of movement of writing or index finger on any writing surface is, in my experience more important than the visual. Seeing and doing needs a lot of support by way of chanting the movements so the child is truly aware of character formations.

    Nan Jay Barchowsky, Handwriting specialist