Cursive handwriting, it caused me loads of problems when I was in grade school and it seems to be doing the same thing for my youngest son. As a lefty, I have vivid images of Sister Mary standing over me, turning my paper to try to get my slant right, and honestly, I never did. As an adult, I mostly print, but my son needs to know how to read cursive and also (as a boy who gets his drivers license next year) how to sign his name. So, I’ve been looking for a cursive program aimed at older students, and I was happy to give Patriotic Penmanship High School Grades 9-12 from Laurelwood Books a try.
The book helps children learn cursive using powerful quotes from national documents like the Introduction to the Declaration of Independence, as well as quotes from Presidents and other patriots, Bible verses and famous poems. It begins with a basic review of how to form cursive letters, both upper and lower case. This part of the instruction is short, so I will say it assumes that children have had prior instruction in cursive writing. From there it moves into individual lessons.
Patriotic Penmanship contains 30 lessons overall, so if you did one per week you would have enough for almost a whole school year. Each lesson begins with a written copy of the quote to read, then each line of the quote is broken down individually, with students first tracing the line, then writing it on their own. At the end of the lesson, students are given blank lines with the first word in each quote on the line. They trace the first word then complete the rest of the line on their own. Words that may be unfamiliar (like “unalienable”) are defined at the end of each lesson.
Since cursive is something my son struggles with, we broke the lessons into a few days in order to avoid him getting frustrated. First we would read the quote together, then discuss where it came from. After that, I would have him work on the individual lines. Depending on how long the quotes work, lessons could take from 3-4 days to complete overall. The point was not to rush him, but to let him take his time and practice the letters.
We also used some of the quotes (like the Preamble) for memory work. I think there is value in memorizing historical documents, verses, and quality poetry. I still remember the Gettysburg Address from when I learned it in the fourth grade as well as several poems and numerous verses I’ve memorized over the years. I feel that copying the quote several times helps with the memorization process.
While my son does not love cursive, he did enjoy the memorization part, and I feel the practice has helped him with his writing. However, I think this program is best suited to students who need to hone their cursive skills, not learn to write cursive. Copying the quotes gives them plenty of practice, but aside from tracing, there is not a TON of instruction on how to form the letters. That said, I think this is a great program for upper-level students. So many of them simply type on a computer these days and it seems like cursive writing is becoming a lost art. If you have a student who knows how to write cursive and just needs some practice to keep up their skills, I would highly recommend you check out Patriotic Penmanship. At less than $15 it is a great bargain and there are a number of ways to incorporate the quotes and verses into your curriculum.
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