Thursday, September 12, 2013

TOS Review: The Rhythm of Handwriting (Cursive)




So the news is that teaching cursive handwriting is going the way of the dinosaurs. I personally don’t get it. Isn’t there room in the world for keyboarding and cursive? We have a few extra issues in our house. Josiah has dysgraphia, which is a learning disability that affects the ability to write.  Among some of the things he struggles with are poor handwriting, tiring easily and he has trouble finishing sentences or words on the paper. He can speak to you as if he just attended a college course in philosophy, but struggles to even copy something I have written on the white board.

There have been many reputable reports touting the benefits of teaching cursive handwriting to kids who struggle with dysgraphia. For one, cursive handwriting requires less fine motor skills than manuscript handwriting. Another benefit of cursive handwriting (especially for a kiddo like Josiah) is that b’s and d’s can’t be reversed. Here is an interesting article on teaching cursive to students before manuscript. One of Josiah's other "issues" is that he's a lefty! 



I recently had an opportunity to review The Rhythm of Handwriting (Cursive) by Logic of English. I am always interested in materials that assist Josiah in some of those trouble spots in his schooling. Handwriting is certainly one of those. 

What I received




I received the Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive book. It is a workbook style book and runs for $15. There is a PDF version available as well for $15. The teacher recommendations, helps and tips are all located in this book. The book uses The Logic of English method in that teaching the sounds of each letter (phonograms) at the same time they are learning how to write it. This, of course, was unnecessary in our case. 

 Some of the steps to teach handwriting used materials we didn’t have, but are available on website.
  
I took full advantage of the Handwriting Tips. For one, it is emphasized that the student learns handwriting using all four learning modes (seeing, hearing, doing & speaking). This is how I love to teach so it fit nicely in with my style. Also included in this section is a suggested schedule and ideas for handwriting practice. 

We also received a laminated Handwriting Quick Reference Cursive Chart, which can be purchased for $10. The recommended ages for this curriculum is 7+, but there is a section that talks about how to use the program for younger children if you feel they are ready. 

 
How We Used It 

I want to share with you some of our handwriting exercies. Josiah was required to practice daily. Some days were more productive than others, but every day had at least one handwriting activity in it. I also liked that we were encouraged to be flexible. Josiah had an easier time with some letters than others. But then again so do I!

We did take extra days to practice any that needed to be worked out. The letters are not taught in alphabetical order. They are grouped together by their strokes. Lower case letters are taught first. It is recommended that for ages 7+, 2 or more letters are learned daily.  We did followed this schedule (mostly). Some days I felt that a letter might need a bit more attention. 

Actually, a capital "I" is one of the last letter learned in the book. One day Josiah said, "Mom! I need to practice my capital "I"!" Who am I to argue with such dedication. Because he has already been exposed to cursive handwriting I didn't think it would hurt to move along.

Because of Josiah’s dysgraphia, I loved the ideas for fine-motor activities. Below you can see Josiah working with Lego blocks. Focusing on those small movements helped his handwriting. Who knew handwriting practice could be so much fun!  It looks like he's serious about this, does it?



Each letter is given a set of directions. As Josiah learned the letter, I would call out these set of directions. I feel that they were easy follow.  I first began by modeling the letter several times myself. Josiah would follow by using the handwriting chart to practice on his own using his finger.

 I think this helps with muscle memory. He then was ready to add pencil and paper (as seen in the picture above...because I couldn't possible be bothered to put them in order!)

Something unique about the Rhythm of Handwriting is that you are provided with a variety of line widths. Josiah had difficulty with the tiny lines, but as recommended, I let him choose the lines that were easier for him to use.  Extra practice paper is available on the Logic of English website. 


One of the recommended steps in introducing pencil and paper was to encourage students to use motions from the fingers to form each letter, not the wrist or elbow. During the course of our lessons I could see that Josiah struggled with this. He was using too much of his wrist. 


One tip I used quite a bit during the course of our review helped tremendously. It was suggested to ask the student to look at their handwriting and choose letters or words that they found to be good "work." And to be express why they think it is good.

Josiah was particularly proud of this copy of "tip." I can't tell you how gratifying that is for me. Now if I can only get him to use from some of  his cursive handwriting skills all the time. He seems to be afraid to move away from the handwriting practice paper.




A few more thoughts

I think this is an easy-to-teach, “no frills” handwriting course. In Josiah’s case, I prefer curriculum that is uncluttered and simple. Cutsie gimmicks and bright colors only distract him. I feel that this a good basic course for any homeschooling family to use. It is also affordable. There is quite a bit of instruction that goes in this book.  You certainly get your money’s worth. You can see a sample of the curriculum here.

Members of the TOS Crew reviewed this product and some other really great Logic of English materials. Go check them out!

 

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