As an Occupational Therapist, I'm always curious about different penmanship programs. If you know me, my answer is almost always yes when someone asks if cursive writing is really necessary. For this review, my son used New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 ($22.95) by Iris Hatfield. I was happy to discover that New American Cursive from Memoria Press teaches handwriting very similar to the way I write. It is sort of a combination of print and cursive which means you get the speed of cursive with more of the legibility of printed letters. Designed for 6-10 year olds, my son was at the top of the range that this workbook is recommended for.
The spiral bound workbook begins with an introduction which includes recommendations for beginning to teach cursive early (2nd or 3rd grade) rather than later for the best results. It also gives tips on how to hold a pencil. "How to use this book" advice includes recommendations to keep lessons 15-20 minutes (YES!) and to start music as the lessons begin.
While my girls and I love music and would listen to it all the time, my son is actually more diligent with his work and able to concentrate in a very quiet environment. When I do add music and he isn't done with his lessons, he often asks if it can be turned off or he can go to a quieter part of the house.
Joseph worked on these lessons independently with occasional instructions from me to redo his work if he rushed to the point of sloppiness. Handwriting is not his favorite lesson, but he completed these with very little grumbling.
The letters are presented in order from A to Z with both capital and lower case letters taught in each lesson. Lessons begin with a tracing task which showed the beginning point for each letter. Letters are simplified. They have a natural right slant and require fewer strokes than many other programs. I'm not a huge fan of tracing for the purpose of learning letter formation though it can be useful for other visual perceptual issues. Instead, I had him air write before writing each letter on the paper. I sat with him to make sure he was indeed forming each letter correctly.
Beyond the introductory pages there were few instructions provided. The page pictured above, for example is one of many titled "Fun Exercises and Artwork" but my very literal child didn't add artwork until I told him to as the page did not specify to do so. (The teaching guide did mention the free space could be either for art work or for trying out new letters.)
The book layout is well designed. Each page has the spiral at the top, so when you turn the page you also turn the workbook around.
My son is now about halfway finished with the workbook. I have noticed more attention to letter formation and an improvement in his legibility of cursive letters.
The crew will be reviewing more from Memoria Press soon.