Cursive - When does MFW start & misc cursive ?s

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)

Cursive - When does MFW start & misc cursive ?s

Unread post by cbollin » Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:59 am

caod wrote:When and with what kind of program is cursive writing introduced in MFW? Are there directions in the TM about how to go about teaching it and/or do you just follow the recommendations of the program they recommend?
Cursive Handwriting Package (from the language arts section of the website):
  • MFW curriculum already includes handwriting instruction in kindergarten and first grade, and practical reviews in all other levels. But when you are ready to teach your child cursive (usually around 3rd grade), you may find this book helpful.

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Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:41 pm

Also, if you have done any of the 2nd-8th grade levels, the handwriting portion seems to be the same each year. Daily handwriting practice is scheduled for the first few weeks of the year. The teacher manuals for 2nd-8th grades do not give a specific font or specific training.

There is less copywork & spelling scheduled during those weeks, to make sure you have time for the handwriting review. Children practice forming their letters in cursive during this time starting about 3rd grade. MFW does sell a small cursive set with some instruction in cursive. It is traditional cursive.

Typical of MFW, it is simple and inexpensive, using your own notebook or the little cursive package they sell. And of course there is room for some families to make other choices for handwriting.

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Unread post by shellie » Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:49 pm

CindyLou wrote:Has anyone started off from the very beginning teaching their child(ren) cursive instead of learning printing first?
I think a number of years ago a few curricula had decided to go with cursive almost exlusively, but as I understand it that idea wasn't very well received and has fallen by the wayside. (I could be waaay off there, though... I'm going on second-hand info, CindyLou. So please take that 2-cents-worth about as far as 2 cents'll git ya. ~_^)

On a kind of opposite note, one thing that stuck in my mind from the home school convention I attended this past summer was someone who said that she was only making her daughter learn how to write her name in cursive because, other than to sign your name, there really was no REAL reason that you had to write in cursive. That sure would be an easy out for teaching cursive to my youngest boy! ^__^ But that scares me because I am programmed that OF COURSE we all need to be able to write in cursive.... but, DO WE? In college nowadays, is it mandatory to write in cursive? Will there be a time in life where it would hinder you not to know how to write in cursive? I'm kind of typing out loud here, mostly because I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on the issue!

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Unread post by Omma » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:03 pm

I think you need to be able to READ cursive writing, and if you don't know how to write in cursive, you may have trouble reading it as well.



Unread post by cbollin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:23 pm

You might not have trouble reading it. I can't write in italics or in calligraphy, but can read it. Maybe it's just a matter of being introduced to other styles in various printed materials ?? i dunno. just thinking out loud too.

One thing that I found interesting is how handwriting styles change over time. I've noticed on legal documents from genealogical research how it looks like scribbles. Yet at the time, it was legible. found that curious over the years.


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Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:35 pm

CindyLou & Shellie,
I agree with Shellie. There are a lot of opinions out there on cursive vs. printing first. Even the "big names" differ. ABeka teaches cursive first & BJU teaches printing that is a little like cursive. I think you could do either.

The reasoning behind printing first I think is that it is easier to learn alongside of reading, because it looks so similar to the print in a book, a worksheet, or any other print materials.

As for Shellie's topic of why teach cursive, I wrote this list up once:

I don't use cursive, but I teach it.
If I didn't teach my kids cursive, they couldn't:

- read their grandparents' greeting cards
- read the notes written in our co-op yearbook
- sign their name on checks
- read the scribbled instructions from a boss when they are 16
- read scribbled notes from a doctor when they are 18
- read the list of wedding shower gifts that was written by a family member in cursive when they are 25
- read the greetings in get-well cards while they are hospitalized when they are 50

You get the idea...

And by the way, I tried just teaching ds to "read" cursive because he detested handwriting so. I wrote words on index card "books." I made a puzzle where you matched cursive & printing letters. Just reading it did not stick so we're learning to writing it out the old-fashioned way...

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:48 am

We practiced cursive regularly through the middle of 6th grade. However, eventually I went to "using" cursive for some subject every day, rather than a separate "cursive class." Some kids love using cursive; my ds had to be required to use it.

Many public schools have kids use only cursive in all their classwork for one year, and then have them use cursive in certain subjects through elementary school (5th or 6th).

Subjects that are easy to assign cursive are spelling and copywork.
cbollin wrote:just my personal experience here on combining spelling and cursive in the context of using Spelling Power with my kids.... During the time that we were just learning how to form the cursive letters, it was too much for my kids to do together. When they were trying to think how to spell a word on the "test" parts --- I let them print in order to concentrate on one skill at a time.

But my kids loved practicing their Bible memory verses copywork in cursive :)
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The best method?

Unread post by Daisy » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:29 pm

Kim Schroter wrote:What are your thoughts on the best method to teach cursive?
Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:00 pm
Personally, I've found the easiest way was to start by writing lightly in pencil the child's name at the top of each of their daily workpages IN cursive. They trace over it every day. It took about 2 weeks for them to be able to write their "signature" on their own. In doing so, they learned all the lower case letters of their name and 2 upper case letters and they felt successful.

Then we started on learning each of the letters. I wrote them on a white board and then they practiced over and over and over again on the white board. I like the white board because they don't push so hard with the markers. It makes the stroke smoother and it keeps them from getting tired quickly.

Once all the letters are taught we start copywork. I bought a cursive poster & and that's it. No curriculum. While they are learning the letters, I'll often write something out in cursive and let them use tracing paper on it. Just whatever interests them (white board or tracing paper) that day.

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Unread post by JenniferF » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:32 pm

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:48 pm

I too have been thinking about cursive. I don't write any of the 'traditional' ways and I think I would have a hard time writing out the letters for dd. I can't decide which style I will teach.

Although dd will be in 3rd grade, I have decided to hold off on teaching cursive right now. She still needs work in her printing and I want to get that taken care of first. She also has no desire to learn cursive at this point in time.

What I think what I will do for the first part of this year is to show her the letters of cursive, to be able to recognize and read them. Then as we progress with printing, we will move into practicing cursive. My dd can't stand the typical dashed middle line papers. They are very hard for her to follow. I recently bought paper from HWT and we will see how she does with it. If she likes it, we will try their cursive style.

I think the style we teach them to write in doesn't matter much. They will put their own flair into it anyways. What is important to me is that my children will be able to read the different types of cursive.

P.S. Here is an interesting site I came across the other day showing the lines for cursive. It has the letters drawn in three different colors, green first, black middle then red for the last part of the letter. I think it really makes sense!

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Unread post by mamaofredheads » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:34 pm

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:08 pm

I bought lined writing paper from Miller Pads & Paper & would write 3 letters, one on the beginning of each line. Then DS filled the rest of the line with that letter. He did 3 letters per day.

Once we did the alphabet, I used the same paper & copied the MFW Bible verse for that week, skipping lines, & he did his work underneath. For us, the most important part of teaching cursive was that I sat right beside him to be sure he formed the letters correctly. With only 3/day it only took a few minutes & wasn't overwhelming for him.

For next year, the first 1/2 of the year he will do his copywork from mine as before (I have a program called Start Write that I made the sheets on) and for the 2nd half of the year I will have him copy from his Bible into cursive.

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Unread post by caod » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:44 pm

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:23 pm

I tried a program called cursive first. It provides an auditory component based on the face of a clock. In other words to write a 'd' she might say "short stroke to 2 and around and all the way up to the attic then a connector stroke" (that is not exactly right but hopefully you get the idea) or some such auditory direction.

It was what she needed and she no longer puts that auditory component to work but it was what she needed for cursive to make sense to her. She is now writing in cursive pretty well.


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Making a cursive chart

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:46 pm

cbollin wrote:You might need an additional chart to show proper formation
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:20 am
I think making a chart is useful for all cursive programs & all cursive learners -- well, at least beginners & middlers. Hopefully at some point it is all mastered, but my son still needs the reference & he's going into 7th. Probably my fault because I didn't make him use cursive all day for any length of time. Oh, well, I digress...

Anyways, some of those capital letters especially aren't used very often. My son keeps in his clipboard, where he does his pencil work (it has a storage box area).

As far as making the chart, if you have nice handwriting, you could make your own. Or there are some online for different fonts. Or you may be able to put one together using parts of the cursive book.

Just wanted to affirm the importance of a reference chart for us.


Unread post by cbollin » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:47 pm

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:29 am

I didn't think of it until this morning to try to find something online for a reference chart. I just found a neat site that has online animation for forming cursive letters.

It's on something called HandwritingforKids dot com
look on their site under Cursive
then Alphabet and Numbers. The animation links are in there.

Maybe that would help someone to see how it is formed?


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I'm undecided about cursive in K

Unread post by spunkytigrr » Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:30 pm

spunkytigrr wrote:I’m undecided if I wish to take A Beka’s route to learning cursive in Kindergarten… I like the idea of not having to “unlearn” printed writing. They seem to be the only ones using this approach (that I've found anyway), and I wonder if it's just too much, and if it's better to learn print first, the way most do.
As far as doing Cursive first - we started with Abeka, and my dd did manuscript in K, and then we switch to cursive in 1st. For us, that was good, and I let her decide. I asked my boys, and they said they want to learn to print first, so we'll do that. There are plenty of advocates for either way. I think eventually kids do need to learn to print - my dd's cursive is MUCH better than her printing - for things like labeling maps, scientific drawings, and such.
spunkytigrr wrote: I appreciated the comment (Trish) on needing to learn print sometime anyway for maps and labeling and such (duh to me!) so either way I’d be teaching both. If that’s the case I suppose it doesn’t matter which order they learn, and I hadn’t even thought of asking my kiddos which one they want to learn first.

Thanks !! !! !!

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Re: I'm undecided about cursive in K

Unread post by Lee » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:26 am

Hi! No expert here (our first year with MFW, excited to say we are going with ECC and K coming from a traditional worktext curriculum), but just thought I would add that I think it is a good idea to teach them to print. In practical life, we all occasionally have to print and then sign. I have a friend whose children only learned Abeka cursive and are having to retrace their steps and learn print. We used a "precursive" style in the beginning which looks very nice. All 3 of my school age children started with this style print and by the time the middle of first grade rolled around they were "teaching themselves" with a little instruction on my part the techniques of cursive. They are pretty normal kids (I think :) ), just picked it up and seemed to progress pretty naturally at it. Anyway, I know what works for us may not work for somebody else, but I hope it helps a little.

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Unread post by 8shininglights » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:48 am

Crystallea wrote:Hi. I have a few questions/musings about handwriting. Has anyone started their kids with cursive handwriting instead of printing? What did you think? My 3older students ( 4th, 4th & 5th) struggle with switching to cursive, thus the wondering about starting with cursive. In order to deal with the current situation of the kids struggling would you recommend the cursive handwriting program offered by MFW for my older students? and if so would each kiddo need their own book? own set of books ? I appreciate the sharing of experiences. I feel like I learn a little something each time I log on.
I did cursive first with all of my kids.......but I still don't know if that is best. My kids struggled with printing for a LONG time! They would be filling in crossword puzzles with cursive letters (fancy cursive letter with swirls!). I was told that because kids see printing all the time, printing would just happen naturally. I do not think that it happened naturally. My third daughter, who is almost 14, is now writing with very nice printing..... but it probably took until age 12 or 13! I would have to say that would be around the same age for older two too. I have a daughter who just turned 12, and she does do some :~ printing...... but it does not look good......... yet! So, I do think you have to "teach" some of it later. I would watch my kids making a letter in printing....... where........... yes...... it looked like an "r", but it was not done "properly." I watched them make it. They made the stick and then picked up their pencil to make the curve on top!

Anyways............ if you do teach printing first, then you have to teach cursive later. So, really, no matter what you do, you have to do some teaching later on. I have not done printing first, so I don't know what it is like to teach cursive at a later age. What would be harder to do? I would think that teaching cursive is the hardest writing to learn first. I found that I got it over with first. Yet............ to this day......... I am still not sure if I made the right choice! My youngest is finishing K right now, and he writes well. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do next year. I really don't want them 12 and not printing. I think I will make the effort to "teach" printing with my 10 year old and later with my 6 year old. I am not longer going to just wait and "watch it happen." It don't think it will happen! :~
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Re: handwriting

Unread post by Crystallea » Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:29 am

Thanks for the input. Looks like the jury is still out. My solution at the end of last year was to tell them to connent the letters any way that felt right to them as long as it was legible for me. Not sure that was a good solution, but it got us through the day. We shall carry on and keep trying. Maybe it's a maturity/small motor issue too. Again thanks. Crystal
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Re: handwriting

Unread post by doubleportion » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:07 am

There are many different ways of teaching cursive and various forms of it as well.

I found a website with free printable handwriting pages and the order that the letters are taught in makes sooooo much sense.

The author says "Just like printing, cursive writing is typically not presented in alphabetical order. I've chosen to present the letters in groups that are formed in a similar manner (you'll find this is what most schools do). The worksheets build on one another so you'll want to begin with the letter a and add letters in the order listed. It is important to build when it comes to handwriting as the key difference between cursive writing and printing is that the letters flow together (connect)."

I found her grouping and worksheet extremely useful and successful with my dd.

Finally, pray- God will direct you to what is the best fit for your dc!


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An idea for cursive

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:13 pm

My dd has been learning cursive, but was struggling with a few of the capital letters. She got out her "Glow Doodle" yesterday and was writing on it, so we decided to practice those difficult cursive letters and it really helped. It has a clear screen that lights up, so you can trace anything that is underneath it, plus it's very easy for her to trace over my writing on the screen itself. The stylis is a good size and shape for her hand to hold onto. After a short time, she had those "hard" letters down pat. I just thought I'd throw that out there . . . A Glow Doodle costs about $20, I think, but especially if you already have one, I recommend it for cursive - it was much better for my dd than the white board.
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ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by NJCheryl » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:08 am

mom2h wrote:We will start ECC in a couple of weeks and I have an 8-yr old DS who does not like to write, and has not "perfected" printing yet. ECC starts with letter review, so I guess since we don't know cursive yet, the only thing to 'review' is printing (duh)...but when should I start teaching the cursive lessons? Is it up to me or is there a suggested time to start?

Also, as we are learning cursive, how does he write out his answers, etc... on his current lessons? Or when do I know to switch to all cursive?
MFW recommends beginning cursive in 3rd grade, provided you think your student is ready. If he is not ready, wait.

My daughter was in PS through 2nd grade. They learned to form the letters in 2nd grade. She did lots of practice in when we brought her home in 3rd grade. In 4th grade I bagan to have some assignments in cursive, mostly copy work. We will begin 5th grade in less than 2 weeks, and I will increase what she needs to do in cursive. I think this can be very individual. I don't see my 2nd grade son being ready to start cursive anytime soon.


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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by baileymom » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:06 am

I'm not a big "stickler" on handwriting. My DD 8th, still prefers to print, and I let her, unless it's a final draft of a story or Copywork. My DD 5th, goes back and forth too, and I require cursive for the same things.

I have an older 2nd grader (just turned 8 DS) who will start cursive some time this year. He is starting to "sign" his name at the end of his PenPal letters though. I just write on on scrap paper, and he copies.

But, I would make sure he masters "printing" first, even if that takes him into late 3rd or early 4th grade. Don't feel pressured to do it sooner, just to "keep up" nephew, who is only a day older than my above mentioned son, started ABEka cursive in K...and started writing letters in cursive to my son in 1st...and we just kept "printing" our return letters.
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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by jasntas » Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:10 pm

mom2h wrote:Has anyone ever had a DS who just didn't like learning to write? Did you try cursive and it went fine? OR did you try one method then another before it ''took"?
I got the cursive materials suggested by MFW, so we will start with that.
Our experience: My ds tried cursive the beginning of last year (3rd) because he knew that all his peers were going to be learning cursive that year in ps. (He was just coming from ps and had gone on the 3rd grade tour at the end of his 2nd grade year. He also thought he was suppose to learn about the planets in 3rd. It turns out the planets were studied at the end of the year and was the only science they did for the whole year. The one subject my ds loves is science and that would have been very disappointing for him. (Now back on subject.)

It only took one day at the beginning of the school year to know that he wasn't ready for cursive yet. I put it off until about the middle of the school year. He has been doing fine so far. It's slow going with him, like everything else, but he is getting there. He really dislikes writing (and reading) but seems to be ok with learning cursive most days.

We started with the MFW recommendations. It was a different program than this year’s recommendation. We switched to A Reason for Handwriting. He did ok with that one but it was a bit too much writing for him so we are going to try Handwriting Without Tears this year.

I only require at this point that he writes in cursive with his cursive worksheets. I think I'm going to let my ds lead (for the most part) when he wants to write his assignments in cursive. (Both my dc, incl. my 6 yo dd, love writing their names in cursive). Just our experience for reference. :)
mom2h wrote:I reeeeaaalllly try to be easy-going about his writing. I have to. I have a degree in art and am a calligrapher. So I knew ahead of time, I'd have to take it easy with him.
I tend to be a perfectionist so I can relate. ( Although I have terrible handwriting myself and was hoping my dc would be better at it but it's not looking that way. ;)

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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by doubleportion » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:15 pm

My dd learned cursive last year in 3rd grade in ECC. This year she still only writes in cursive on her memory verses or certain notebook pages. The rest of the time she still prints. I used an online printable cursive pages from

I liked the theory behind why each letter was introduced. There is one sheet for each and they are not taught in alphabetical order but rather in groups based on how they are formed. It makes a lot of sense to me. You can go to the website and see how they are grouped. For me it was also nice to be able to print however many copies of a letter practice page my dd needed. And of course it is online printables that are free (got to love that).


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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:19 pm

My dd (who loves to write) learned cursive at 8yo. She started copying cursive writing, trying to learn it on her own, so I started lessons to prevent her from forming bad habits that would have to be broken later. :) She had definitely mastered printing first, though. I still have her print a lot of the work in ECC, and do cursive for memory verses, etc.

I would think that with a boy who already dislikes writing, waiting until he shows some interest in learning cursive is best. (I'm no expert.) Here's hoping Julie chimes in on this thread. Her comments about her ds being allergic to pencils still crack me up! 8[] She's so knowledgeable about teaching boys.
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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by Poohbee » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:48 pm

My dd was not yet ready to begin cursive when we started 3rd grade (last year). Her printing still needed some work. We continued working on neat printing and learning to write a bit smaller for the first half of 3rd grade. Then, we started cursive the last half of 3rd grade. We used A Reason for Handwriting, book T. It is a transition book. It has lessons for printing the first half of the book and cursive the last half of the book, with lessons in the middle to teach the cursive letters. It has wide lines and more narrow lines, to help the child transition from writing big to writing smaller. I really liked that program to help my daughter transition into cursive.

Whatever you use to introduce or teach cursive, I would suggest letting your son continue practicing his printing, and perhaps introduce cursive a bit later in the school year. There's certainly no magical time to start, I don't think. Just go with what seems to work best for your son. :-)
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Re: ECC-When to start cursive?

Unread post by mom2h » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:15 pm

That sounds like it makes sense. We'll get back to being comfortable with printing, then see about introducing cursive gently.

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