Cursive Writing, Copywork, and Penmanship: Is it Really Necessary?
March 28, 2018
Mercy Every Minute  
A couple of my kids have chicken scratch for handwriting. And they are the adult children, even though we all went over handwriting together for years. Some of my kids’ writing abilities are just neat from birth, and others need a lot of help. We should teach excellence, but not stress out if their handwriting is not a work of art by the time they are ten. Instead of perfection, our goal should be improvement over time. 

Copywork is a huge help for handwriting practice, as well as all of these other benefits:


Here are a few more resources to help you in teaching handwriting" before these bullet points:

What does the Bible say about writing? Here are some verses to copy: Copywork: Bible Verses about Writing. Never underestimate the power of the Word of God written on our children’s hearts and minds. It is life and health and knowledge—all the things we want our children to possess. 

Speaking of copying, Jesus copied His Father. He only did what He saw His Father doing. John 5:19 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’” We would do well to teach our children to copy Jesus.

God bless you this week as you copy Christ so your children and your world can see who He is. And may He grant you strength as you keep His children Home Where They Belong

 ~Deborah
Jill Kawchak
As much as we live in a society with more emphasis on a word-processing program than the simple pen and page, there are still plenty of opportunities in our daily lives where we’re required to be able to write, legibly and beautifully, to get our point across.

I admit I’m a handwriting snob. My most treasured possessions are a scrap of paper where my daughter first scrawled ‘Mama’ when she was just a tot, and cards from my husband over the years. Handwriting is so connected to the person who provided it: its ephemera, a mere blip that wasn’t recorded digitally and stored in some database. A handwritten note, beautifully done, is of so much more value to me than a sheet with printed words on it. Neat as the printed version is, there’s something of the soul of a person left on the handwritten page.

Rather than a dying art, handwriting (in homeschool circles anyway) has been having a bit of a resurgence. Numerous curriculum choices promote proper penmanship, be it cursive or printing, and copywork. While some choose to skip over handwriting, assuming that their children won’t need it in today’s technological world, there are scores of us who have children copying out famous quotes, Bible verses, poems, and entire pages, hoping to refine those words on the paper.

I want my daughter not to have to rely on a font; I want her to be confident in her penmanship so she can present her best self to the world. She will still have to sign her name, fill out forms, and write notes. I want her to love the feeling of a pen in her hand, to marvel at the flowing lines of ink spreading across her page. I want her to jot down her notes in a journal, put the words of great thinkers and believers in her commonplace book, and treasure the gift of words given to her by others. I want her to look at her writing from when she was tiny and visually see her growth as her handwriting changed. I can’t wait for her eyes to glow with the understanding that cursive is a secret portal she is initiated into, a right of passage as she gets older. When she’s bent over a sheet of lined paper, I want her to feel that connection over thousands of years, knowing that great writers all started out as she did. I want her to feel Shakespeare, Austen, even Ingalls-Wilder behind her as she hones this craft. 

Handwriting is far from dead, it may have been forgotten for a while, but there will always be a place for beautiful writing in the world.

Jill Kawchak lives at the edge of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta with her husband, daughter, and a very slobbery yellow lab. She writes, she is a doula, she homeschools . . . and makes a mean tortilla soup. Most days you can find her on the trails in the foothills, trying to keep her daughter from breaking bones as she scrambles up rocks. A follower of Jesus, she tries, fails, and tries again to seek Him first.
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Several years ago I addressed this topic and boldly said that it was unnecessary to teach cursive writing, but now that I’ve matured and had some children grow up and finish our homeschool, I’d like to say
. . . that it’s almost pointless to waste your time teaching cursive writing.

Now if you love teaching it, and you think it’s necessary to lead a productive life . . . then teach it. You’re smart enough to know what your kids need. BUT if you’re like me and can’t even think of one application of cursive (except a signature) then don’t teach it EVEN if the experts say you should.

My wife thinks our kids need to be able to read cursive, and she teaches it to our kids because she loves to write in cursive and thinks it’s faster. But she doesn’t stress if they are somewhat messy or can’t do it well.

The same principle applies as always: God made you smart enough to know what your kids need in the future.

I mean, who writes cursive anymore? I’ve been trying to remember the last time I wrote something out and can’t remember when that would have been . . . maybe a check?!

Even signatures have changed and have become scribbles and a mixture of sloppy lettering and hieroglyphics.

So this is one less thing you have to stress about. Instead, you can concentrate on important stuff like math basics, reading good stories, and spending time with your children who are growing up so quickly.

Be real,
Todd

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Kerry Tittle 
Cursive writing, penmanship, and copywork—is it necessary? I would have to say . . . YES!

The argument lingering out there seems to be, are we preparing our children for a world that doesn’t exists anymore? I can’t really answer that, but what I can say is I have raised two entirely different generations of children. Technology, though it’s useful and has its place, has hindered our family in areas of reading and writing. This is a problem my older children didn’t have.

These are my observations on the benefits of writing:

Cursive Writing Letter writing is quickly becoming an antiquity and is being replaced by text messages in our fast-demand world. However, receiving a handwritten, well thought out note in the mail produces a totally different response than a text message. Your dopamine levels may rise if you know someone cared enough about you to spend time writing and mailing a letter. Additionally, cursive writing is shown to improve brain development in areas of thinking and memory. According to the New York Times, cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres. This does not occur in printing and definitely not in typing.

Penmanship – There will always be that child that has messy handwriting, and that’s ok! You’ve heard me say this before, “If his handwriting doesn’t neaten up, maybe he will become a doctor!” Don’t sweat it, but the time spent sitting and trying teaches them perseverance and patience, and those are character qualities that are far more important than beautiful penmanship.

Copywork – I can’t say enough about copywork. There are several options of copywork books, but I let the children choose personal books that interest them. They write word for word from the book. This has been an incredible help in spelling, grammar, and writing. They can see and copy proper examples, and it definitely carries over into their own work. I have had two children go from poor spelling skills to great spelling skills during the time we started these copywork exercises.

Sharpen those pencils, and be encouraged!
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It feels like some kind of surrender, but honestly, no, cursive writing and penmanship don’t seem to be as necessary as they were even a generation ago.

When is the last time you wrote more than a few phrases by hand? For most of us, it’s been a while. Maybe a long while. We first realized this when our own handwriting started deteriorating.

We both realized that we had to stop and think how to write in a way we hadn’t since we were in grade school. Handwriting is a skill that we’re just not using as much anymore. After all, our laptops are always nearby and in the few times they aren’t, why, there are our smartphones.

So, should we abandon teaching handwriting altogether? No, not for a couple of reasons:

Essays. Our kids have to be able to write quickly enough to finish college entrance exam essays or AP exam essays—and legibly enough that graders can easily read their work!
 
Note-taking. Research has shown that because memory seems connected to location, even location on a page, people who take handwritten notes remember things more easily. We want our kids to be able to take notes in college—or during a sermon.

Outside of those specialized situations, though, penmanship doesn’t seem to be as important as it was before electronic devices became universal. How does that change our homeschooling?

We don’t sweat the small stuff. With our oldest kids, now adults, we’d go to great lengths to correct hand position or letter formation or other niceties of handwriting. We just don’t worry about that stuff anymore. Your mileage may vary, but it doesn’t seem worth it in our world.

We don’t let it limit them. We talk to a lot of parents who are worried to death about their young boys whose hatred of handwriting is slowing them down in history or science or another subject. We don’t recommend letting that happen. Boys develop small motor skills much more slowly than girls. Teach what you are teaching. If handwriting is holding him back in science or in composition, for example, let him dictate or answer orally and keep moving. His handwriting will come so much more easily later, in fourth to sixth grade, when his development catches up. Then, get him writing stuff by hand!

It’s a controversial thing right now but may not be in the years ahead. We’re old enough to remember educators debating whether kids should still be taught to use slide rules when calculators were becoming so common. You may have never even heard of slide rules! That’s how that controversy turned out. Handwriting is a little different because we’ll likely always need at least some skill at it, but honestly, our kids are unlikely to need to copy out a book or document “in a big round hand” – ever. So don’t let it become a stumbling block!

Want to learn more about how boys learn differently from girls? Here’s a FREE download on homeschooling boys

Your friends,
Hal & Melanie
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If you need penmanship and copywork resources, then you need SchoolhouseTeachers.com and Everyday Copywork. This course brings your student penmanship practice, in both print and cursive, through copying Bible portions, excerpts of literature, foreign language selections, and much more. There are many different lengths, and the copywork varies in difficulty, so it is suitable for many ages. Not only will your students' penmanship improve, you’ll be feeding them encouraging, inspiring, and life-changing words to ponder and tuck away in their hearts. 

If you haven’t yet joined SchoolhouseTeachers.com, come give us a try. You can try the entire site for 30 days for $5! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. We look forward to serving you and your family! 

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of March
Henry Borenson, Ed.D.

The Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is a mathematics system that teaches students how to do algebraic equations using a simple yet effective method. I teach both of my daughters who are ages eight and eleven. I have learned by observing and engaging with them that they each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses as it relates to mathematics. While one is quick to recognize solutions for word problems, the other has an easier time building her mathematics foundation by learning her facts and tried and true math rules. They each approach math differently.

Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is the first math program which we have been able to use together. Often learners must work at their particular level because of skill requirements. The only requirement for this program is to be proficient in adding and subtracting. Hands-On Equations has three skill levels'. All learners should begin at Level 1 to gain understanding of the method. Level 1 consists of seven lessons; therefore, it shouldn’t take a long time to move forward to the next level if the student quickly grasps the concept. Although I am proficient at solving algebraic equations, I found Hands-On Equations enlightening because it caused me to see the solving of algebraic equations differently. Dr. Borenson made it simple; therefore even my eight-year-old daughter who is apprehensive of larger multiplication facts was also able to solve for the unknown. Level 1 teaches the students to see the unknown as the same number throughout the equation. (. . .)

The program includes all three levels instruction guides, a student kit which includes pawns, cubes, and a laminated balance scale, DVD instruction for all three levels, classwork sheets which are reproducible, answer key, and Hands-On Equations Verbal Problems Introductory Workbook.The entire program is completed in twenty six lessons which can be completed at the student’s pace. The student kit provides the hands-on aspect to the approach. The pawns and cubes are used to illustrate the equation. (. . .)

Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is a good program to have in your math arsenal particularly for students who need to “see” math. It makes it easier and less threatening, and even I, someone who is proficient and a certified math teacher, enjoy learning this method with my daughters. In my opinion, the DVD instruction is mandatory, especially if you have not attended one of the seminars to understand this method. Dr. Borenson goes through each lesson step by step which helps if you are stuck doing math one way or if you aren’t comfortable teaching math.


YOU can WIN this awesome math set for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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