Handwriting with tears. =(

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  • Charis

    I just started my young 5 year daughter using the Peggy Gardner Italics Beautiful handwriting for children.  Even though she is quite young, we were starting because she has already taughter herself to write all the letters but without proper stroke order; also she holds her pencil incorrectly.  All we have done so far is “j”, “l” and “i”.  I chose italics since it seems a bit easier and an easier transition to cursive.  However, she is already very discouraged, even learning the correct pencil grip.  She wants to go back to the traditional letters she sees everywhere because she thinks they are easier.  They might be, since she taught herself those, but I worry that the transition to cursive will be harder (also I don’t like loopy cursive).  Should I switch methods?  Handwriting styles?  Perhaps start with cursive since it would be entirely new and not so close to something she already knows?  Or not work on handwriting yet? She LOVES to write- always writes notes, cards, stories.  I am at a loss.

    Thanks so much!




    I don’t have any advice about handwriting styles, but my dd6 uses a pencil grip when she does her school work.  It took her a while to get used to it but her grip has improved overall buy using it even for the short time of her writing lessons.


    I also use Penny Gardner, but with my second child I’m using  much simpler approach I wished I’d used with my first.  I use the model print alphabet (found in the suppliment file I think or maybe in the main book – can’t quite remember), drew an extra line at the bottom of the page for space for her to practice, laminated it, and bought a packet of Crayola Dry Erase Washable Crayons.  I don’t bother with all the Penny Garner exercises and all the sheets of paper. She just practices the letters with dry erase. She thinks it’s so much fun that way.  I can tell she’s going to master the letters quickly.  Her pencil grip isn’t correct yet but I don’t make an issue of it and just gently help/remind her how to hold it.  Once she’s mastered the letters I’ll move on to pencil and paper and give her actual passages to copy – probably something she chooses (?one of our hymns/poems for this term).  But I’ll probably keep the laminated sheet available and review a letter a day or something.  I keep my handwriting lessons to 5 minutes max.




    I teach my kids cursive from the beginning. My fave resources are Pencil Pete software, Cursive iPad app from fizzbrain, Logic of English cursive workbook, and Cursive First. With dd5 we are using the iPad app and LOE workbook. It’s going well. I’ve posted here many times re why I do cursive first, too. Just one idea.

    Christie, why did you pick Logic of English cursive workbook? I’m laying out some options for my dd6 who is begging to do cursive now. In the past, I’ve used Handwriting Without Tears (it’s ok) and also just my own made up printables. I’m thinking on SCM options as well as Queens Homeschool options.



    I have used Pentime with my oldest. Although he doesn’t enjoy handwriting, he never has really complained about it, either, so I take that as a plus. LOL

    With my soon-to-be-middle child, I will probably start him on an italics style writing, just so cursive will be easier. He knows how to write his letters, though in a typical 3-4 yr old way. 🙂

    Pecan grove, I forgot to mention that my oldest used Pentime AFTER he already learned cursive, just for extra practice. I did like it very much. But I’m not sure if it’s the best fit for beginners? I’ll look into it. Thanks so much!


    Simple Home – I like that LOE is in a workbook, but dd prefers the half sheets from Cursive First, so I’m back to making copies. This is just for letter formation. Once all of the letters are learned we switch to copywork.


    Charis – A question and a thought:

    Question – Why do you plan to switch to cursive? I wait to teach my children cursive until they want to learn it, and then only teach basic letter formation. My goal, they learn it well enough that they can read it. They are not expected to switch all handwriting assignments over to cursive. Not practical in current times when most things are done via keyboard anyway. The only time I use cursive now as an adult? Signing checks. Do you use cursive in daily life as an adult? (Some do, I’m sure, though probably born before my 1981 birthday).

    A thought – You wanted to switch to italics to ease her transition to cursive, but in essence all you’re doing is making her have an extra switch NOW from print to italic. Seems like more work than just letting her stick with print for now.

    What we do:

    Basic letter formation via Peterson Directed Handwriting (manuscript, though they offer a Cursive First series too)spoken stroke cues. You air write first, then large on dry erase board, working down to lined paper. Then we switch to copywork once they have letter formation down (which they have by the time they are using lined paper).

    I’m in this transition with my 4th and 5th child now. One can form most letters and numbers but has had no ‘teaching’. He’s a new 5 and wants to learn the rest, so we started up this week. The other is 4 next month and he’s only joining in on air writing for now. It’s fun and gets the wiggles out! The 2yo joins occasionally in the air writing too, the 1yo not at all.

    Thanks Christie. I looked up the app you mentioned too. So cute!!


    FWIW, my dd learned regular manuscript print first and had no problems transitioning to cursive when she was ready for that (she actually asked to learn it).



    I was reading through this thread because I have a 5 year old who is not able to write anything yet. He has so much trouble holding the pencil and having any control over it. I also have an 8 year old learning cursive who hates it. The Peterson Directed Handwriting looks interesting to me. I actually had decided to order it after looking it up but I’m not sure exactly what is necessary to order. For those who have used it, can you tell me what I need to order? They have some kind of best value font family listed on the side. I can’t tell exactly what it is. Then they have the basic kits, complete kits, or individual items. Thanks and sorry for asking more questions on someone else’s post.


    What happened to copywork? Just plain print copywork for a 5 year old would more than sufficient, I would think.

    Why dampen her desire to write by giving her something even more difficult and complicated to master? She is only 5!! And it sounds as though she isn’t resistant to learning, just to this added pressure of learning to form the letters in a brand new way.

    Obviously, I would say back off a bit and let her continue with enthusiasm learning manuscript letters with copywork. Worry about cursive when her fine motor skills are ready for the challenge (2nd-4th grade).

    Ladies, the original poster Charis started this thread 3 months ago and never replied to the comments. I bumped it up to ask misceegee a question about something she mentioned on her post.

    Just wanted to clarify that just in case it was overlooked. 🙂

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