I recently had the opportunity to review New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 from Memoria Press.
Memoria Press has produced some fantastic products so I knew that this was something I wanted to try.
When my son was first learning to write his name and his ABCs it was obvious we had a longer road to go than some. As he developed his writing was not only labored, but it was nearly illegible. He had difficulty copying something. His spacing was nonexistent and his letters were a varying heights and widths. He couldn’t stay in the lines. It was discovered that not only is Josiah dyslexic, but he is also dysgraphic.
Strangely enough in my research, I found that the experts suggested cursive writing for those students who struggle with dysgraphia. Cursive has very few reversible letters. Word spacing isn’t nearly a problem and doesn’t require as much strain on the hand.
New American Cursive offers more than 26 fewer strokes than traditional cursive. I was curious to see if this method would be easier for Josiah to practice and eventually master.
Of course, the idea behind New American Cursive is to introduce cursive to kiddos as young as First Grade. The methods are not torturous (according to my son) and are presented in a way that encourages creativity and excellence.
There has been a great movement afoot to eliminate cursive from main stream curriculums. I, of course, freaked out just a little. Think of all those wonderful historical documents that won’t be read in their original forms. Not to mention the beauty of cursive writing itself. These things are even above and beyond the benefits it has for kids like Josiah.
This workbook is easy to use. The lessons are short. Our lesson generally took no more than 20 minutes a day.
The book begins by teaching proper hand, paper and pencil position. This was REALLY important.
Each lesson starts with a page similar to the one below. You can see that the student is instructed to:
1. Say the letter.
2. Feel the letter.
3. Write the letter.
This multi-sensory method is used throughout the book.
Josiah is also a leftie and has to turn his paper differently.
The lesson then gives plenty of opportunity for practice.
The end of the lesson is a fun exercise and/or chance to do some artwork. On the other side of this exercise is a blank space for the student to create their own 'a" artwork. Josiah's is blank. He wasn't interested.
This particular lesson (I think it was for "d") ended with an a helpful exercise that allowed the student to practice keeping his or her pencil on the page.
“Mr. Meerkat” is the instructor throughout the book. Josiah is 13 and wasn’t too offended with Mr. Meerkat. I worried that perhaps he might think it was too babyish. Thankfully, Mr. Meerkat is “dude approved.”
I am really impressed with this method of cursive. The book is spiral bound at the top which helped Josiah out immensely. He didn’t have to fight with the spiral.
A big plus for me, as well, was that it isn't to difficult for Josiah to use. There are no dramatic flourishes or swipes to master. I did require him to do a few of the lessons again. He still struggled making several of the letters. This is just the nature of dysgraphia. However, I simply erased the lesson he was having difficulty with and had him start fresh the next day. Building up that muscle memory is important.
The lessons themselves are short and the pages aren't cluttered with a lot of "stuff." My dyslexic/dysgraphic boy doesn't have to struggle to keep his attention on what he is doing.
I also appreciate the extras in the back of the book. There are additional things to copy; such as The Pledge of Allegiance and the days of the week. There is also extra paper for practice.
This little page, however, is my favorite. It helps me evaluate Josiah's handwriting. It also helps Josiah see what he needs to work on.
I do want to encourage other parents whose children have similar issues. Josiah is 13. He would not have been able to do so well when he was in first grade. He simply needed time. I have found that recommended ages and courses of study are just suggestions. Because they aren't ready today doesn't mean that it won't happen in the future. If you have an older child who has struggled with his handwriting this is a great technique to try. And, as a former teacher of young children I feel that this method is terrific for those kiddos who are on track.
So far we are halfway through the workbook. There are additional Modern Cursive workbooks available through Memoria Press as well as samples for Workbook 1. I encourage you to check it out.
Please click the banner below to read more reviews. You can connect with Memoria Press via the following social media outlets.
Also, I am getting ready to review another fabulous product from Memoria Press. We are excited about this one...stay tuned for my review!