Monday, April 20, 2009

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting (BFH)

Well, let me just start this off by saying that when I was in 7th grade, I was a straight A student.... except for Handwriting, for which I regularly received C's.... so I have a little "angst" when it comes to teaching my children "penmanship". Because of this, I have been pleased to be able to use and review a couple of the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting products in our home.

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting manual with CD ($65.95) for all ages is the first one up for review.

The manual is spiral/Flexibound, allowing it to lay flat, AND keep the "Coils" neat.... Marvelous!
As a MAC user, I was delighted to see that there is a CD for PC's, and one for MAC's.

You can check out the table of contents and some samples from the manual as well as the CD-Rom at the link above, but I'll quickly list the table of contents for you here:
  1. How to Use This Program
  2. Posture, Pen Hold, and Paper Position
  3. Exercise Patterns, Related Letters, and Practice Words
  4. Reference for Lowercase Alphabet
  5. Reference for Capital Alphabet
  6. Reference for Numerals
  7. Joining Letters
  8. Missteps and Myths(Remediation helps)
  9. Practice Words and Sentences.
One of the benefits of this program was also one of the greater challenges for me, personally. That is, there is no scope and sequence, no "precise" progression of pages to "Teach", no set procedure. It is to be used as an individualized program, meeting each person where they need help. This means that as the teacher, I have to figure out which worksheets to use. I think my difficulty with this was indicative of how my brain processes things~ I have a hard time with "Teacher manuals" that are in digital format, where I can only see one page at a time. I prefer to have a hard copy in hand and be able to flip back and forth, however, the CD-Rom doesn't take up any space on my overflowing bookshelves.... (Ah... the pros and cons, the joys and struggles with Digital Media!)

OK, now that I have "that" out of the way... I have to say, I am impressed with the thoroughness of this program, and also the "Tone" that is taken. The goal is to create legible handwriting, starting wherever the student is "at", and if it doesn't look precisely like the exemplars(A page for students to trace, copy or use as a reference is known as an exemplar. From the BHF Glossary at the back of the manual)... that's OK. There is an understanding that people DO personalize their handwriting in the real world, and that everyone's handwriting needn't be a carbon copy... it just needs to be legible! :)

The CD-Rom contains lessons, suggestions for instruction, and video demonstrations, as well as numerous exemplars that you can print at will. The files are split into Levels 1-4, with 1 being more for younger students, and 4 for older. This does help a little with the "Where do I start" question, and provide a little bit of "direction". :)

Many of the pages are customizable, just note that you have to save them to your computer in order to print them. It is nice to be able to create "Copywork" for your children based on what they are interested in or are learning.

Tip: If you want to save on "practice sheet" printing costs, you could print each one that you need once, and use glossy sheet protectors to create a binder of write on/wipe off pages to use with a dry erase marker. Another Crew member mentioned laminating the pages as an option.... Thanks, Sheri! There are some sheets that would be adaptable to this concept, particularly in the lower levels.

To sum up~ I feel that this program is filled with many "helps" to cause legible handwriting to break out in my home, and that's a good thing! There is enough variety in the "Exemplars" to help keep my children's attention, and that's a good thing! And... I don't have to try to teach Palmer Penmanship(my apologies to the "Traditionalists" among us), and that's a good thing! :)

The second program that I received to review was Fix It... Write ($17.95)

This program is for the older student/adult who wishes to remediate their handwriting with regards to speed and legibility.
TheManual comes Three-Hole-Punched, ready for use in a binder. This way the lined practice sheets are easy to remove and copy for individual use.

Given my issues with digital formats, this manual was a relief for me! I could hand it to oldest and just have her follow through with the numbered lessons. However, if I see something that needs more work, I can hunt through the BHF CD-Rom, and print up applicable worksheets for her.
  • Part One of the manual(just a few pages) addresses problems common to handwriting, which is great for figuring out what ISN'T working.
  • Part Two is split into three sections to help fix those problems:
  • The Groundwork~ Days 1-3
  • Print-Script to Cursive with Italic features~ Days 4-18 (For learning Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting)
  • Conventional Cursive~ Days 4-15(Alternative for remediating the cursive one learned)
In short, with daily practice, handwriting can improve! Oldest is using this program(Albeit on a modified time schedule) and is progressing into a more legible hand, and that is a good thing!

Oh, and if you have a beginning writer, you may want to check out The Beginner's Handwriting with Teacher's Guide ($29.95), so that you can introduce them to writing the BFH way from teh start!

Check out what other crew members had to say about BFH, and let me know what you think!
Happy Handwriting!

1 comment:

  1. You are welcome, glad you liked the laminating idea. It works great...I started with slipping them into the protector sheets and taping the top, but they didn't work as well as I had hoped-good thing I bought the laminator around the same time I received this to review. I agree about the lack of a paper TE. I am still old school in that manner as well...I like to see it in hand, not on a screen-but digital is a space saver, and isn't that hard to read....guess this dates me? LOL


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