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How to Teach Cursive with The Rhythm of Handwriting {Review}


Teaching your child how to write in cursive?  Read more about The Rhythm of Handwriting from Logic of English.

Back when I was in grade school {oh so long ago!}, my favorite thing about school-- third grade specifically, was learning cursive! Yes, I loved that and multiplication so much that I wanted to be a third grade teacher. 

Fast forward to now, and I am not a third grade teacher nor do I have a third grader.  However, with the aid of The Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive Complete Set by Logic of English, I was able to teach my 6 year old how to write in cursive!  My "dream" once upon a time did happen, just thankfully turned out a bit differently than expected. 


Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Curriculum Review


Teaching Cursive


Having said all that you can imagine I was floored when my son started to string his letters together in his writing all by himself.  This product review came at a perfect time!  We received The Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive Complete Set, which retails for $65.00 and can be used for ages 4+.  Up front, I have to say that the price seems a bit steep, but we have been very happy with the curriculum!
The set includes:
  • Printed cursive workbook- Provides plenty of space and practice to learn lowercase, uppercase, and words in cursive.  Workbook pages can be torn out to make writing in the workbook easier.  Also includes helpful hints and tips and more ideas for handwriting practice.
  • Cursive quick reference chart- A 3 paneled "How-to" reference guide.
  • Cursive tactile cards- sandpaper letters on one side and sounds and instructions for how to make letter on the other. Set contains lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers 0-9, and individual strokes.
  • Student whiteboard- double sided dry erase board; one side is helpful for teaching individual letters and strokes.  The reverse side contains smaller lines to practice words, phrases, etc.
Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Curriculum Review


Logic of English worked with David Occhino Design to design their own custom manuscript and cursive font used in their handwriting programs.  The School font, is closely modeled after D'Nealian.  A highlight of this cursive handwriting program is that all lowercase letters begin on the baseline.  Some of the uppercase letters were also simplified, so that you only connect to the next letter if  it ends on the baseline. The School manuscript and cursive fonts are very similar to help ease the transition from one form of writing to the next.  

When we began our homeschooling journey, I had read that it is encouraged that children learn cursive first, but having been taught that it should start in third grade, we did things a bit backwards.  Thankfully though, my son never had any "major" issues with printing-- except for lack of/ too much spacing in between words, which is one reason why cursive should be taught first.  It is suggested that because you have and can see a distinct beginning and end of a word written in cursive, this issue corrects itself.  Writing in cursive also helps those that may lack fine motor strength; cursive actually takes less fine motor ability than print. 

Rhythm of Handwriting Curriculum Review


When our Rhythm of Handwriting Complete Set arrived, we jumped right in.  It was very easy to implement and only took 15 minutes each day, at most.  The program includes suggested schedules for those six and under and a faster schedule for children 7 and older.  We were in between; some days my son wanted to learn three letters and other days one was good enough!  Currently we are just beginning uppercase "roll" letters.  

The steps to their handwriting program are conveniently located within the workbook and on the back of the Cursive Quick Reference Guide.  There are 11 Steps consisting of repeated actions of showing/ telling, demonstrating, repeating, and finally modeling; your child will be "seeing, hearing, doing, and speaking" through the entire process.  Although it seemed a bit re-redundant to my son at times, I think the multi-sensory approach really encouraged his success in this program.  I loved that the program encourages and reinforces letter sounds of each phonogram, too.  Because it is just as important to be able to read cursive as it is to write it!

Rhythm of Handwriting Curriculum Review


The Rhythm of Handwriting teaches cursive strokes in one solid movement.  The Tactile Cards and Quick Reference Chart show individual strokes that make up a letter, but the workbook does not emphasize the parts; they emphasize the whole, rhythmic flow of the letter. The Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive has a distinct method and philosophy that shapes how they teach handwriting.  

The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive curriculum begins teaching your child lowercase letters that have a similar shape and/or starting point.  The first letters your child will learn are the "swing" letters-- i, t, u, s, j, p, r, and w.   Once your child has learned several different letters, he/she will form small words.  When all the lowercase letters are learned and mastered, your child will then learn uppercase letters. 

I don't have anything to compare this curriculum too, but I can say that we have been thrilled with this cursive handwriting program.  My favorite resource was the tactile cards.  This was my son's first experience using them and I wished I had taken a photo of his expression when he traced his first lowercase cursive letter!  Priceless! The tactile cards are great for all kinds of learners, but especially those that need that extra sensory input.  

On the downside, we didn't find the student workbook all that necessary.  It does include some helpful teaching tips as well as introduce the letters in the order to be mastered, but  my son did so well writing the letters on the whiteboard that extra practice with a pencil was just too much "drill and kill."  The workbook was not for us, but if your child needs that extra practice and likes having a copy of his/her work to review and compare, then it would be worthwhile.  I also wish there was a way readily available to make worksheets using the School font; currently you would have to buy the font from the designer if you would like to make specific worksheets and/or copywork pages in this font.

To encourage mastery, I have switched my son's copywork to cursive handwriting and we will continue to work through the uppercase cursive letters.  This is one program we will be finishing!  I highly encourage anyone wanting to teach their child cursive to look at this program, especially the tactile cards-- they are a wonderful asset to learning cursive!

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13 comments on "How to Teach Cursive with The Rhythm of Handwriting {Review}"
  1. So PROUD of my grandson!!! So exciting to see his cursive skills!!!! YAY!!!! Xo

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  2. How creative! I'll be featuring you this week -- thanks for sharing at Discover & Explore!

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  3. You write: "The School font, [in this program,] is closely modeled after D'Nealian, but simplifies cursive handwriting by having all lowercase letters begin on the baseline."
    Since the D'Nealian program's own cursive stage _also_ has all its lowercase letters begun on the baseline, I don't see how doing the same thing in this program is "simplifying" over D'Nealian. Please explain.

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  4. School Time Snippets9:31 PM, May 11, 2014

    Thanks for reading through this review, Kate. I've since rephrased the sentence because as I looked up D'Nealian cursive, I understand your question about my statement. What I wrote was what LOE highlighted about their program so I took it to mean that was how they were different. I then spent a lot of time today trying to find out what sets it apart and have even asked that LOE would clarify differences, too. However, in my search of D'Nealian font, not all lowercase letters were shown to start at the baseline. Which leaves me even more confused... More searching has led me to think that the latest D'Nealian cursive font has been updated to include the connector in front of the letter. Prior to that update, they focused their connections on the end of the letter. This all led to looking at D'Nealian cursive workbooks and from what I am sensing, the biggest difference is not necessarily the font but HOW cursive is taught. LOE encourages Cursive first; D'Nealian was created to help transition from print to cursive. LOE focuses on whole rhythmic movements, D'Nealian focuses on teaching the separate steps in making the letter. LOE teaches certain letters first, D'Nealian doesn't seem to have a preference. Hopefully I have explained myself a bit. And I will update again once I hear back from LOE!.

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  5. According to the designer of the D'Nealian program — Donald Neal Thurber, whom I have met — D'Nealian cursive does begin every letter from the base-line, while D'Nealian print-writing has never begun any letter from the base-line. (So every D'N cursive letter begins, as it happens, in a different place from the same letter in D'Nealian printing.)
    Further, Don has also pointed out to me (and to others who have discussed D'Nealian with him) that D'Nealian as he originally designed it did _not_ include a cursive stage, because Don believed (and still believes) that cursive writing of any sort is unnecessary. Don designed D'Nealian, originally, with the intent to ease printing, rather than in hopes to ease transition to cursive. Only after Scott-Foresman (now Pearson) decided to buy out Don's original publisher (Academic Therapy) did Scott-Foresman decide to /a/ promote D'N heavily as a way of easing the change to cursive, and /b/ therefore ask Don to design a cursive stage of D'Nealian for them, along with having Don give them permission to otherwise present and alter D'N in any way they wished) — paying him very well for this (large annual royalties).

    If you need to check any of this for yourself, you can reach Don through his web-site at dnealian.com

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  6. Please delete previous message waiting to be approved — it was a copy-paste error.

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  7. I have to say that, for myself as a kid learning cursive (in second grade in 1969-70, then all over again in a different school with a different program in third grade in 1970-71), starting every letter at the bottom was one of THE most difficult things about the whole difficult business!

    Doubtless, the folks at "Logic of English" would say that this was because I was being taught cursive (twice over, at that!) right after having been taught print-writing. However, my father had the same difficulty (among other difficulties in cursive) and he HAD been taught cursive first — Palmer Method in first grade in 1939. (Palmer Method, like Logic of English, starts all lower-case cursive letters at the bottom.)
    One big difficulty of bottom-up cursive for so many people (not just Dad and me) comes from the fact that bottom-up cursive letters can't stay bottom-up after b, o, v, or w. After any of those letters, every cursive letter has to start somewhere that isn't the bottom — or "oil / post / port" will look like "ail /past / part," and "brown" will look something like "birioiwin" but without the dots. (In other words, learning a bottom-up cursive letter — or twenty-six of them — actually means learning two varieties of each cursive letter, starting in different places (one variety from the bottom, the other variety not) along with learning a rule for when to use one variety or use the other variety. The different starting points and resulting different shapes, wherever bottom-up is part of letter design for teaching our lower-case alphabet, make things as difficult — at least, for most of the students who are sent to me for handwriting help — as would any other internally contradictory expectation in a handwriting program (such as the usual expectation of two styles: print and cursive.)
    We already have to learn 52 letter shapes (26 upper-case and 26 lower-case) to write our alphabet. Whenever the 26 lower-case ones have to be bottom-up, that requires a whole extra set for the circumstance (after b/o/v/w) in which they canNOT be bottom-up. 26 x 3 = 78 for completely bottom-up cursive. That's why what I find logical are the programs that have been designed to avoid bottom-up (and other letter-shape change requirements) entirely.

    Some sites with examples of these programs, in workbooks and/or actual use, are here:

    http://www.BFHhandwriting.com, http://www.handwritingsuccess.com, http://www.briem.net, http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com, http://www.italic-handwriting.org, http://www.studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/hwlesson.html

    I would like to know what you think of them.

    Kate Gladstone — http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

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  8. School Time Snippets9:44 AM, May 12, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. I did check out dnealian.com and find it interesting that the designer of D'Nealian doesn't believe that cursive is necessary, yet designed a cursive font. Just shows you that philosophy and method between the styles is very different.

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  9. School Time Snippets9:53 AM, May 12, 2014

    What I have noticed in commenting back and forth with you is that there are several styles of cursive; however, I would have to suggest that cursive success lies in using one program and sticking with it. Ironically, my son had no problems transitioning to this style of cursive after doing only print since he began writing. Perhaps it was because of the order in which the letters were taught... don't know. However, we've been pleased with this program; to each his own!

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  10. I agree that the odds of success are raised by finding one program and sticking to it. However, that is no guarantee of success, when the program is cursive.

    My dad isn't the only one who ever washed out of a program that stuck to one (cursive-only) style and taught it thoroughly; I've met — and worked with — quite a few "washouts," young and grown, from every one of the cursive-only programs: including, like it or not, "Logic of English."

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  11. Nan Jay Barchowsky6:37 PM, May 14, 2014

    I have read through all comments between you and Kate Gladstone.Most interesting! My conclusion is an old one: Any handwriting method can be learned well from a good teacher. I too have been in contact with Mr. Thurber. He sent me a copy of his first manuscript for teaching handwriting. It shows only a faint resemblance to the resulting D'Nealian, and much more like the italic that I advocate and teach.

    Critical to fluency, regardless of handwriting method, is pen hold. In the image where the writing is pink, the marker is poorly held. Does your program address this? Contact me at bfhhandwriting@gmail.com if you would like my illustration of a good, relaxed hold.

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  12. School Time Snippets6:59 PM, May 14, 2014

    Thank you for commenting, Nan. Very interesting then that D'Nealian is still attributed to Mr. Thurber if the current resemblance is tiny in comparison!
    And I've never had issues with my son's pencil grasp, thank you for your concern though. The program does not address it, though. Perhaps it was just the angle-- regardless, I don't think that is an issue. Thanks!

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  13. raton pramanik3:38 AM, May 30, 2014

    Interesting write-up! Writing is an art form that reaches a multitude of people from all walks of life, different cultures, and age group. As a writer, it is not about what you want.slang idioms

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