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Teach Cursive with The Rhythm of Handwriting {Review}

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 Logic of English's The Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive Complete Set curriculum, 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. 

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.

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. 

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!

The Rhythm of Handwriting teaches the 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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