Friday, September 13, 2013

Logic of English (Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive)

Logic of English offered a few different products to the TOS Review Crew for examination. Some of them received Foundations A (a 4-7 phonics, reading, writing, handwriting program) and others received Essentials (For ages 7+) as well as a Phonograms App

Based on the title of the company you *might* think that I have the wrong curriculum, when I tell you that I am reviewing the Rhthym of Handwriting (Cursive) curriculum.  However, I am here to remind you that writing is the other side of reading, and they both are part of that thing called "English." ;) 

Being totally honest here, I can say that handwriting has taken a very back seat in my homeschool. I hated "Penmanship" when I was in grade school, perhaps because I could NEVER manage an "A" no matter how much I tried! *an aside: I discovered later in life that my handwriting looks pretty much like both my mother's and my father's at various times, but neither are "Textbook" examples of script (Sorry, Mom and Dad, but facts are facts!). :) Because of my own perception, I had decided that there was really not much use in pushing handwriting and penmanship (including cursive), particularly with our increasingly digital age. 

I was not surprised to hear that schools were starting to drop cursive from their requirements, but when a hue and cry went forth it was time to sit up and notice. Suddenly there was a debate about learning cursive or doing away with it. As I read and researched, I decided that perhaps I had been doing my older children a disservice, and that cursive was a skill that they really should learn. The most salient points that swayed my decision, in no particular order:
screenshot of a portion of the Declaration of Independence

  • The ability to read cursive, keeps primary source documents from becoming inaccessible. Imagine not being able to decipher an old diary or manuscript that is suddenly unearthed, not to mention the ability to read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution
  • Writing in cursive can help to minimize spelling mistakes as children more easily follow the correct left-right pattern, individual words are more obvious (no question where one word ends and the other begins, as is often the case in cramped manuscript writing), and there are muscle-memory patterns that are being forged, similar to those that a pianist learns through repetition of certain drills.
  • Increased brain activity an retention of knowledge: "According to Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, "Pictures of brain activity have illustrated that sequential finger movements used in handwriting activated massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. Handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential finger strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding only involves touching a key.”
There are other benefits that are more geared to the younger child (Fine motor skills, ease of learning to mention a couple), but I was most interested in the above three as they relate to my 8th and 11th graders. 

The book does incorporate multi-sensory learning, which is excellent for younger students (Drawing in the air or with sensory materials in the sand, or shaving cream, etc...). There are also suggested schedules for those who want to try using this for ages 6 and under, as well as 3 varying schedules for those with children 7 and up. 

For my purposes in using this as a remedial course for my older students, I chose to follow the course of instruction, at an accelerated pace, and have my children write on the paper that Logic of English provides as a free download, which keeps the book for me to use with their younger brother at a more relaxed pace this fall. :) 

You can see that I got to practice my handwriting as well, since I wrote the initial letters, and the words for them to copy (When I take my time, I think my handwriting comes *close* to textbook, but it doesn't usually look like this when I'm rushing along;) ). 

Their "final" assignment was to write a verse of Scripture from dictation. :) 
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
I was very pleased with the approach of the Rhthym of Handwriting, as I used it for a remedial cursive course. I am confident that my eldest is able to read fluently and write adequately, and that my middlest, with a little more practice will be there as well. They will have the confidence and ability to "sign on the dotted line" for official documents and not have to resort to manuscript or a simple "X" like those who are not literate.
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about this AND the other items I did not review. As always, I hope that this was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.


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