TOS Review: Classical Conversations

Okay, first of all, I want to say that I am an eclectic homeschooler who uses bits and pieces of many methods to make things work. When I first started homeschooling I read everything I could get my hands on, including books about the classical approach. While the overall method was not something I wanted to use completely, I did find parts of it appealing. A friend of mine from my homeschool group also belongs to a Classical Conversations group in our area. She had invited me to join, but after looking into it, I just felt it was a little too rigid for our taste. When a chance came up to review a product from Classical Conversations, I almost passed it up. Now, however I am glad I didn’t.

Handwriting is one of the more touchy subjects for my almost 7th grade son. I have to admit, his handwriting is still pretty juvenile. We have been working on printing for years, and have not even started cursive yet! It is a painful process to practice this skill in my home. The funny thing is, as much as my kid hates to “write” things, he loves to draw!! It’s so weird how holding a pencil to write a paragraph can be so brutal, but drawing a picture is not. So, when we got a chance to check out PreScripts Cursive Sentences and Art Lessons, I took it!

PreScripts is the third book in the handwriting program at Classical Conversations that begins with cursive letters and drawing, and moves up to passages and illuminations. I think it is a really cool idea to tie art lessons in with writing. Both require the use of fine motor skills and hand eye coordination, but for kids who look at handwriting as a major chore, the art lessons can be a welcome relief. This particular book is designed for ages 7-12. My son is age 12, but he struggles with handwriting, so this program was a challenge for him.

The book begins with a short review of how to form each cursive letter. If your child is totally unfamiliar with cursive (as mine is) you may need to spend a little extra time on this. The focus of the writing lessons is Medieval to Modern World history, so your child will be copying lessons related to these topics. These portions of the lessons aren’t terribly long, about 3-4 lines each, which was good for my son. We did not fight about getting the writing part done, which was a relief for me. Basically, he would first trace the words, then write them himself on the lines underneath.

The drawing lessons come after the writing portions and begin with simple elements like using a grid to draw, and progressing to more difficult skills like technical drawing. The lessons themselves were very well explained, and my son took off with this portion of the program. Like I said, he likes drawing, and I think practicing these techniques is good practice for handwriting as well. Of course, completing the drawing lessons after the writing was a nice reward for him as well. It includes 24 lessons and additional reviews, which is easily enough to fill one school year if you practice a few days each week.

The PreScripts book costs only $12.99, which is a very reasonable price. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a handwriting program.

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