Cursive handwriting used to be a natural part of educating children. Remember the 3 Rs? Readin’, Ritin’, and Rithmatic? (How ironic is it that this little line about education just butchers spelling??) But, you get the point. Up until just a few years ago, all children learned to write in cursive once they had mastered printing. Now many public schools have removed it from the curriculum. I’m going to share with you HOW to teach cursive writing so it can be to include this in your homeschool (and even if you don’t homeschool!). And I’ll show you some of the reasons that it is so important.
How to Teach It
As with printing, mastering cursive handwriting just takes daily practice. There are some great free and inexpensive resources for this. And it only takes a few minutes per day.
I like to start with basic handwriting sheets, and I LOVE the free, printable pages at Confessions of a Homeschooler. They are cute and fun. (If you’re teaching an older child, these basic sheets might be more appropriate.)
For a beginning cursive handwriting course, printing up the entire set of worksheets is ideal. You can then use one of two methods for student use:
- Put them directly into a 3-ring binder
- Insert the pages into sturdy page-protectors for wipe-off marker use
The 2nd method is great if you have multiple children; create the handwriting binder once, and use it over and over. (I like these plastic sleeves; they are super sturdy and specifically designed to hold up to multiple write-and-wipe sessions.)
Another bonus for the wipe-off marker method: larger markers are sometimes more friendly to small hands. Although the cursive writing won’t be done with a fine point, their hands just adapt better to the fat marker.
If you prefer a purchased handwriting curriculum, there are so many wonderful options available on ChristianBook.com.
Once the basic letters and short words are mastered, it’s important to continue daily practice. This allows the student to perfect their lettering, and you will see their unique handwriting style start to develop. And the options for this step are almost endless!
Copywork is basically just copying down anything from a book for the practice of handwriting and grammar and writing work. So it’s a great way to move on from practicing cursive letters. The flexibility of copywork is the best part, because you or your student can choose any material whatsoever to use! Read my full post Copywork and Language Arts.
Consider Bible verses, poetry, great speeches from history, paragraphs from a favorite story, or song lyrics. For beginners, you will want to continue using lined handwriting paper for awhile. This is easy to find, both free (see this link) and purchased. As your student progresses (and gets older), they can move to standard notebook paper or lined journals.
There are a number of great copywork curricula and downloads available; along with the above methods, we have also used and enjoyed Hobbit copywork from Walking by the Way and Queen Homeschooling Copywork for Boys. Our current favorite is Patriotic Penmanship (it is available in both print and cursive.)
Handwritten letters are a dying art, and cursive handwriting practice is a wonderful way to bring them back! Have your student practice their cursive with a letter to grandparents, friends, or even pen-pals. (If you want to find a pen-pal, this a great Facebook group for homeschoolers.) Teach them to style a letter and an envelope for educational bonus points!
Spelling lists, English and Grammar, and writing lessons can all be done in cursive once the student is proficient in it. Be careful not to force it too soon. And consider that though many will learn cursive, not all students will choose it as their preferred method of writing. (Just think of all the adults you know who write in print.) If that’s the case with your student, you might require one subject to be done in cursive, while allowing the rest in print.
One of our favorite book series for school is Draw and Write Through History. We LOVE LOVE LOVE it for the amazing drawing lessons, but it also includes cursive copywork from history.
Why Does Cursive Matter Anymore?
Oh, lots of reasons! But there is one that stands out from the rest – history. Take American history, for example. Most documents, manuscripts, and letters from the first centuries of our history are in cursive. It’s extremely important to our posterity that primary documents from our history can be read by everyone – – not just the “historians.”
Family history, notes and letters are often still in cursive. Do your children receive cards written in cursive? Are there old notes in your attic written by ancestors? I’ll bet they’re in cursive. Your children should be able to read those. Have you read about our Family History Museum? There are many items in this special place that feature cursive writing.
Here is an example: This letter contains a lot of family history information. It was written to my grandparents in 1975, and my grandmother made copies for all the family members.
This is my great-grandfather’s spelling list. He was born in 1911.
Here is another sample of my great-grandfather’s school work: a Texas history project.
And this is a note my great-grandfather left for his mom one afternoon. “Mother” was my great-great grandmother, who was born in 1890.
You can see why I want my children to be able to write (and read) cursive!
One of my favorite, though maybe least important, reasons for teaching cursive, is what I stated in the beginning of this post: it’s an art form, and it’s a unique one. When a student learns cursive, and practices it daily, they form their own unique handwriting. It’s personal and special and recognizable.
If you think your children will balk at cursive, tell them it’s like knowing a secret code-spy language, and most of their friends won’t be learning it!
Visit my HOMESCHOOL 101 page for much more like this!
While you’re here, visit my Knowledge Keepers Bookstore! In it you’ll find the books and the stories that have shaped this great country, the books that influenced our founders and our ancestors, the books that Americans have mostly ignored or never heard of, but the good books that we should all read and protect. Join me in saving Western Civilization, one book at a time!