Handwriting can be that subject that is the fight of the school day. I've heard many excuses and complaints, such as: "I write in every subject - why do I have to practice it again???" Or, "Nobody uses cursive anymore, why do I have to learn it???" And, my favorite: "I can use a computer keyboard for all my subjects. It's not important what my handwriting looks like." I'm sure you've heard these or others from your children, as well. That's why I was hoping to see something that may interest my 8 year old in practicing his penmanship this summer. We were chosen to review a Laurelwood Books product called Patriotic Penmanship, Grade 3.
Laurelwood Books has been around helping the homescool community for 25 years. For many, they have become a one stop shop for all their curriculum needs. I had never used them before so I was interested in seeing the great variety of products that they offer.
Patriotic Penmanship is a consumable workbook/handwriting program that stretches from kindergarten through 12th grade, including transition and review books. It is so much more than a penmanship practice time, though. With Patriotic Penmanship, you get the opportunity to expose your child to pieces of important works of literature, historical quotes and speeches, or scripture referencing the freedoms we value as Americans today. There can be many rabbit trails to chase with this program, I can assure you! This could truly become a unit study on American History, giving you the chance to research some lesser known patriots that helped form and shape the ideals of our great nation.
Caleb has had a little practice with cursive, but very little. He is already beginning to improve after only a few lessons, but I realized on the third or fourth day of him doing these assignments that he really was guessing at what he was writing. Learning to write each individual letter was no problem for him...connecting them to make words was another thing entirely. I noticed how quickly he was doing the assignments, so I sat down with him and asked him about the excerpt he was copying from. He looked at me blankly. I asked him if he had read the excerpt before beginning the assignment, and he turned a little red when he told me that he couldn't understand it. What he really meant was that he couldn't decipher the words written in cursive. So back to the beginning we went. Learning to write and learning to draw can definitely be linked and be a great starting point, but when a child is still drawing and not making connections to what he is actually writing, cursive can be difficult. So we began to break down each word as we went. It took a little more time and effort, but I think it's going to make a big difference. He still isn't crazy about cursive and would rather print, but I am glad to be spending this year working on the skill so that he has the option of which he prefers to use later in life.
The readings we have been copying have been very interesting, too. We have had passages from Psalms, quotes from Michelangelo, Ronald Reagan, and Napolean Bonaparte, and a portion of a writing from John Milton, just to name a few. Here is one of our favorites so far:
The lessons give the child a chance to trace the words, then space to write the words for themselves underneath:
As you can see in one of the above photos, the entire alphabet is printed at the bottom of each page. It gives the child a reference whenever they may need it. There are 30 lessons in the workbook, so you could easily finish this book in a short time. The book actually states that one lesson equals one week's worth of work, but Caleb usually took one or two days to do the work. However, as I stated earlier, I will probably use it as an opportunity to do some further research and have him practice each passage throughout the week.
Patriotic Penmanship is a good program that will give ample time to practice this still important skill. I know many public schools have chosen to eliminate it from their school day, but I believe it is an art that should not be lost. None of my boys may choose to use cursive all the time, but I'm glad that they will have the ability to do so if they choose.
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