Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Memoria Press Cursive Penmanship- Schoolhouse Review

There has been much controversy about whether or not to teach a child cursive.  Add to that the debate of what age to introduce cursive to a child and you can leave a parent pretty confused.  I have to admit that our family has fallen on all sides of this debate and I was really not sure what to do with our youngest and last homeschooler, age 7.  When we found we had the opportunity to review New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1, intended for 1st grade and up, by Memoria Press I was so excited to give it a try!

Memoria Press contends that if you can teach a child cursive writing at an earlier age, as early as first grade, the child is more likely to embrace that style.  Their habits are less set in stone and less "unlearning" has to take place.  By third grade, a student's printing is pretty fixed and it makes the transition to cursive more difficult.

Memoria Press Review

Why teach cursive?  According to Memoria press-
  • Cursive improves the continuity and fluidity of thought in written communication.
  • Cursive improves neural connections in the brain.
  • The hands-on process of learning cursive develops the mind and fine motor skills.

After seeing the examples of several first graders' work, I was sold on the idea!

New American Cursive is a slightly different style than I grew up with learning but fairly easy to pick up.  With the help of Mr. Meercat, your child is taught one letter of the alphabet at a time.  When the letter is first introduced, the child is encouraged to say the letter, feel the letter, and then write the letter.  Little arrows are used to show where to start and how to correctly form each letter.  The next page has your child practice the upper case and lower case letter with an occasional word thrown in. At the end of the page, Mr. Meercat tells your child to circle their best letter.  The following page is a "Fun Exercises and Artwork" page.  This page has words to trace and copy using the letter you just learned as the beginning letter.  There is also a large blank space at the bottom of the page for your child to draw.  Each daily practice session should take no more than 15-20 minutes, oftentimes being shorter.  After three letters are taught, there is a page for just review.

As a parent, you can help your child in this process.  Memoria Press teaches you to remind your child of the three S's (size, slant and spacing) and shows you correct pencil hold and paper slant, even for the left handers out there.  Memoria Press also offers a StartWrite/NAC software that enables you to create your own review pages.  We have not used that product at this time.

How did we use this product?
Simply put - daily!   I believe that there is no better way to learn than by practicing, so that's what we did.  Each day I introduced a new letter, with Mr. Meercat's help of course, and then, under my watchful eye, Colby did the three associated pages.  On review day he did just one page.  At the end of each week, I wrote his name for him and had him copy it so I could visibly see the change in his ability!

The first name on the second and third picture are mine!

What do we think?
I have to admit, I really like this program!  While I am having to relearn a few letters that I write differently, I am pleased with the letter style taught and how it is done.  I think Memoria Press has found a good balance between enough practice to make a difference and not boring a child to death. The first few pages of the book are for a parent to read and include instruction on the ins and outs of the program, making it simple to open up and start without a ton of instruction.

Mr. Meercat entertained Colby.  Really, he did.  The cute illustrations capture a younger child's attention and make things a little more fun without being too silly.  The blank artwork space is a good addition for children who like to be more creative.

While I really wanted to teach our youngest cursive I have been hesitant, thinking it would be a painful process.  In reality, this 15-20 minutes of each day has been a fun and relaxing time for us to have together and I am thrilled to see progress being made.   From my experience, I would highly recommend you start this as early as possible, as old habits do die hard and can occasionally cause frustration with an older student.

Speaking of older students, Memoria Press does offer a program called Teach Yourself Cursive: For Adults and Older Students.  The workbook is designed to correct bad habits and instruct an older student in the elements of legible handwriting.  Guess what is now on my wish list?

You can purchase New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press for $22.95.  Three levels are available as well as lesson plans and Cursive Visual Aids.

You can find Memoria Press at the following places-


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