Cursive handwriting is typically introduced in the 2nd-3rd grade levels. Although a child who cannot read or write cursive will be able to function overall in a print and computerized world, knowing cursive handwriting will be of benefit within certain activities. Note-taking activities are faster, and likely more accurate when an individual has a fluent cursive handwriting repertoire. A child who cannot read or write cursive handwriting will be at a disadvantage when attempting to read notes, letters, or other material written in cursive. Signatures are also typically formed in cursive handwriting. I have seen fiction books include excerpts in cursive handwriting when a character has written a letter. Cursive does not need to be a secret code. There are a variety of quality curriculums available that can help a child learn and practice cursive handwriting.
The Palmer Method of Business Writing
This is an old instructors book on teaching cursive handwriting. Exercises begin with proper seating position and handwriting exercises to allow the proper flow and shape of fluent writing. After completing all of the exercises, the user will likely have legible cursive.
One of the biggest benefits of this cursive handwriting program is the price. This is an old book with an expired copyright, so you can find it for free. A quick internet search led me to:
- http://palmermethod.com, which is a website the a detailed explanation of the Palmer method with exercises
- A free electronic version of the original Palmer method book from archive.org. CLICK HERE to be taken to the Palmer Method book download page. You can pick from a variety of free electronic formats including PDF or Kindle files.
The Palmer Method teaches letter formation through a variety of exercises to build up flow and through drill and accurate practice. This method of learning motor movements may be highly effective with some individuals.
Some of the letter shapes are outdated and may be difficult for some people to recognize. For example, the lower case “r” taught in this program flows better than the more modern cursive r shape, but it is definitely a strong variation of the cursive r taught in more modern cursive curricula.
The Palmer method is not a consumable workbook. It is a lesson book and you copy the lessons on your own paper. The lessons include a lot of drill and practice to develop fluent and legible cursive handwriting. This format may work better with older children or adults who can easily follow along in the text, copy the assignments on regular paper, and who can tolerate drill type lessons.
Confession time. I was a printer until I came across the Palmer method. My elementary education attempts to teach me to use cursive never took off. Printing was just more fluent for me. After going through the Palmer method of cursive writing, my handwriting legibility improved as well as my cursive fluency (writing legibly with speed). I now handwrite in cursive as it is more fluent than my print handwriting. I would definitely recommend the Palmer method for teens and adults who need to increase their cursive fluency.
Handwriting without Tears
I have used the “Kick Start Cursive” book from Handwriting without Tears with one of my children. The book is a basic introduction to cursive handwriting and can be purchased with the same company’s print handwriting book at the 2nd grade level.
As this program is workbook based, it is an open-and-go type of curriculum.
Since my experience with the Handwriting without Tears cursive program, the company has come out with additional cursive books. They now have a full cursive book for 3rd graders, 4th graders, and 5th graders. I have looked over the sample online pages and I do like what I see. The font size and writing required for each page is appropriate for grade levels. I also really like the practice pages where students are supposed to take a printed word and then write it in cursive.
The workbooks are consumable, so you would have to purchase a separate workbook for each child.
The Kick Start Cursive book is a basic introduction to cursive handwriting. It does not provide enough practice for a child to become fluent in cursive handwriting. Handwriting without Tear’s newer cursive books seem like they would provide that missing piece that was lacking in the company’s previous offerings. Handwriting without Tears workbooks can be purchased from their website.
Cursive Logic teaches cursive by breaking down the letter shapes and hand movements in a logical sequence. The workbook includes instructions and practice pages for each lesson. Students practice tracing and copying the required motor movements, single letters, connected letters, words, and sentences. Cursive Logic also offers training materials to help an instructor understand and use this system. I did not purchase these extra materials and thus cannot provide feedback on their value.
I feel like the Cursive Logic program did an excellent job of a task analysis to determine and sequence the skills needed to learn to write in cursive fluently. The sequence of motor memory practice for a letter set are systematic and logical. For example, students practice the basic line loop shape first, and then move on to writing the letters that use that shape (e.g., f, h, k, l, e, and b).
Like Handwriting without Tears, the Cursive Logic program requires purchasing a consumable workbook. The workbook is more pricey than the other cursive programs I have reviewed in this post. A child may need more practice with each lesson step than provided in the workbook. In order to accomplish this, I write out additional exercises on lined paper to achieve mastery.
Cursive Logic is a systematic cursive curriculum that may be beneficial for children starting in 3rd grade who are learning cursive. The workbook is not juvenile and would also be appropriate for older children and teens who are learning cursive.
Final Recommendations on Cursive Handwriting Programs
Developing legible cursive handwriting can benefit children in several ways. Hand fatigue may be reduced when completing handwritten activities (i.e., note taking, writing assignments, etc.). These same activities may come more easily and fluently when they can be completed more quickly with cursive handwriting. The three cursive handwriting programs reviewed in this article all have potential to be good options for children.
CLICK HERE to read about a multi sensory approach to teaching handwriting. Many of these same activities could be adapted to cursive handwriting.
The Palmer Method
The Palmer Method, although the most affordable, may be better suited to older children, teens, or adults who want to improve their cursive handwriting fluency.
Handwriting without Tears
Handwriting without Tears is designed for elementary aged children. Their newer cursive books seem like they provide an appropriate foundation for cursive handwriting.
Cursive Logic is a high quality program, but this system may not be necessary for most children. I would recommend Cursive Logic for children and teens who have struggled to learn cursive using more traditional methods (e.g., copying letters and words). Although the Cursive Logic level of systematic instruction is appropriate for those who have struggled to learn and adopt cursive handwriting in the past, if you like the program, the system could definitely be used with any child.
What to do with a Reluctant Cursive Learner
Some children may just not take off with cursive. If they need a varied and fun approach for learning cursive, consider adapting this multisensory program for cursive. Other children may be adamantly opposed to learning to write cursive, even with the possibility of multisensory activities. CLICK HERE to learn more about research based ways to help a reluctant learner. For children who are adamantly opposed, an acceptable compromise could include learning to read cursive and signing one’s own name. If a child can already read print, you could use any cursive book to learn to recognize and read the cursive letters and letter combinations. Rather than pushing cursive handwriting skills, for some children, it may be more beneficial to spend time focusing on developing typing skills, which are required in our technologically based society. CLICK HERE to read about the prerequisite skills for typing and review of elementary typing programs.