for the youngest children to learn to
write letters that look like those they see
in storybooks and then, change in second
or third grade to what looks like a whole
new alphabet? Are children confused by
the change to “new” letters? Is it such fun
to write like grownups, that entertain-
ment overrides the change that children
must make to hand/finger movement.
They must learn that unlike print hand-
writing, letter lines no longer move from
top to bottom. Now conventional cursive
lines move upward from baselines and
from other places, and some shapes of
letters are no longer the same. It’s excit-
ing at first, but trouble often starts later
with legibility, especially when students
have less time for handwriting practice
than they did 50 or 75 years ago.
Notice that almost all handwriting in-
structional books present two distinct-
looking alphabets. Do publishers influ-
ence handwriting? Do we think we must
teach print handwriting first and then
conventional cursive? Other schools are
independent. They go their own way, with
conventional cursive from the beginning.
One style is for writing, another for reading! Many people thus develop excellent
writing. Possibly they achieve better penmanship with the single method.
Some people are successful with hybrid writing. That is, they start out with
print-script, and whether they missed the
conventional cursive instructions, or forgot them, they develop semi-connected
letters. Many are readable, like this new
script being used in Germany: http://open
It attracts controversy for going against
the national handwriting, but it’s very
Some who see lifts within words believe the writing to be slow. The movement is misunderstood. It’s actually a
small, slight, and natural drift. Often conventional cursive, multisyllabic words are
long, and it becomes difficult to maintain
joining without pulling the writing off
the writing line and distorting letters.
Handwriting seems in no imminent danger of disappearing. Around
the world, simplified handwriting is
growing. There are a number of places
around the world where italic cursive is
used for its ease of teaching and ease of
learning. Is the trend to simplify? Only
time will tell.
Take care. Make wise handwriting decisions. Our children should be able to
enjoy the skill for a long time.
Nan Jay Barchowsky has worked with
handwriting for 40 years. She has taught
handwriting and calligraphy to elementary
school children and adults, both in groups
and individually. She is a charter member
of the Washington Calligraphy Guild and
has taught workshops worldwide. Her authored handwriting publications on www
. bfhhandwriting.com are sold internationally. Her emails and Facebook continually
bring new contacts.
There are a number of places around the world where italic cursive
is used for its ease of teaching and ease of learning.
Available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Within the pages of American history are the stories of
remarkable African-American women who have defied
the odds, taken a stand for justice, and made incredible
strides despite opposition from the culture around them.
Young readers will be touched by these women who have
made an indelible mark on our country and our culture.
Each story ends with questions and creative activities
to encourage further interaction with the lives of these
READ AN EXCERPT