Monday, August 11, 2014

Cursive with Purpose

Eight weeks of summer home education evaluations leave me pondering. Methods and means. Current trends. Proven practices. Preparing our children for the future. What skills will they need? Thoughts today revolve around penmanship and cursive.

All those practice books. Oh yes, there is good reason to teach penmanship and cursive, teaching correct strokes and rotations. Strokes form letters correctly. Proper letter formation makes composition easier. However, once initial instruction is complete and letters are formed properly, practice begins. Purposeful cursive allows for greater retention, practically.

How can handwriting practice be practical to life? All those practice pages? Maybe. Progress can be seen from the first practice page to the last. However, after seeing pages and books full of practice, quite honestly the children who completed the work were less than excited about their accomplishments or about their ability to write with purpose, compose. Really, they were not all that interested in showing us that work.

I wondered how handwriting could be valued, a necessary tool. Something of purpose, useful.

We tried:
  • Paper checks are becoming more and more obsolete, however children are still fascinated with them. What are they? How do they work? Where is the money? Capitalize on the curiosity, find those old blank checks and get to work practicing handwriting. After explaining the function of checks, check cashing basics, and ethics of banking, my littles wanted to play store and write checks. I asked which stores they wanted to shop and write checks to, then made a list, in manuscript, on a white board. I added the words dollars, hundred, thousand to the board as well as some additional number words. My littles had the words needed to write their checks (spelling!), to play, practice, and enjoy! They used their best handwriting because it mattered to them. Their checks were something of value. The written checks became part of a portfolio of work samples. 
  • Grocery lists. Children love to dream about what they would like to buy at the grocery store. Let them dream in lists! Using a sale ad from a local store, I let my children make a grocery list, either in manuscript or cursive, their choice. The next day I made the project more applicable to life? Children worked together to make a list for a nutritionally sound family meal on a specific budget. Not only did we practice handwriting but we discussed lessons in health and math. The ideas were purposeful and practical. The list was added to the portfolio of work samples. 
Ideas to try later:
  • Find a map of your state. Have your child plan a vacation to 6 cities, 1 lake, and 1 river found in your state. Write the names of those places on a paper (remember proper nouns are capitalized)  in the order to be visited. Handwriting (and capitalization) is practiced while considering state geography. 
  • Plan a European (or other location) vacation. As above, have the child plan a vacation including 1 mountain, 2 rivers, 2 lakes, 5 cities, and 2 countries. 
  • Create a menu, complete with prices (writing decimal numbers), and play restaurant. Make sure the handwriting is the best it can be so customers can read and order. 
  • Create a recipe and write in best handwriting.
  • Write a poem. 
  • Create a list specific to the interest of the child, maybe car parts, tools, craft supplies, or color words. Write the list on a white board or write each word on a 3 x 5 card. Have the child write the words in manuscript or cursive.
  • Some families use poetry or verse for handwriting and copywork. This is profitable as well, though may not be as high on the personal interest scale. 
  • Use fancy charcoal pencils, felt pens, or quill pens to practice manuscript and cursive. 
There are many ways to make cursive purposeful and personal. Share one way you've made handwriting valuable in the comment box. We're in this together!

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