I have several hang-ups about the cursive traditionally taught in public schools--you know, the kind no one can read. For
one thing, I was always embarrassed of my own handwriting. It was fairly legible but it wasn’t the pretty, flowery, feminine way that most girls wrote. It was very plain and ugly. In my work/study college days, I
was typist for the campus newspaper. I spent most of my time trying to decipher the scrawl made by the journalist students. After that frustrating job, I switched to printing so I wouldn’t be inflicting
frustration on others.
We live in a world of “Please Print” because few people have legible handwriting. But the italic handwriting method changes all that. It is a beautiful and legible hand. The
transition between printed italic, called basic italic, and cursive italic is very easy. It is the only method that does not have drastic changes between the two.
You’ll find Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children very helpful in teaching italic penmanship within a Charlotte Mason framework. It is not necessary to have a penmanship workbook for every grade
level--this book covers it all. Once a child has learned basic italics, he does meaningful copy work for more practice. After some time, he’ll be ready to learn cursive italics. Copy work and
dictation will provide the practice.
Teaching Italic Penmanship
Since writing capital letters often comes more naturally and easily to the young child, allow him
use caps for early writing experiences. Short lessons on problem letters are fine on occasion, if accepted by the child. In first grade, you may want to play around in a tray of cornmeal
showing the child how to form lower case italic letters by drawing with his finger in the cornmeal. The beginning of second grade is usually a good time to try more formal
penmanship lessons. Try the first few lessons in basic italics. If the child is overly frustrated, you may need to spend time developing fine motor coordination in other ways (see p. 2 of Italics, Beautiful...).
Basic italic or printing is the first step. Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children has 14 lessons
that teach basic italics. There are extra practice pages with words and sentences for the child to trace and then copy. It is best to be right there to reinforce the proper way to form letters--it
will pay off in the long run. Once basic italic is mastered, use this new skill to do meaningful copy work--a few models are included in my book. There is no need to purchase handwriting workbooks for every year when you follow Miss Mason’s ideas of using copy work for
meaningful penmanship practice. See sample pages of basic italics.
When the child has mastered basic italics and can transcribe from printed matter, start cursive.
I suggest near the beginning of 3rd grade, allowing review practice of basic italics first. Older students who are learning italics will be ready to move onto cursive in a very few weeks.
See sample pages of cursive italics.
First work on individual cursive letters as instructed in Lessons 15 and 16. Then learn the ways to join the letter together to write in cursive as illustrated in Lessons 17 through 23. The next
step is to let him copy a model--several are included in Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children.
Once this has become easy, let the student copy from any typeset book. Let your
child copy sayings from the candy jar or other sources into a special book or journal reserved for quotes dear to his heart.
Now, you may view videos of each of the lessons in this italics book for free on You Tube.
Basic 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzgAyK2sAJc
Cursive 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqrhU3MhjBk
Cursive 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKi_CydwuCY
Penmanship Pals: For home tutored children, meet once or twice a week for a penmanship
class with some other families. Spend about 20 minutes teaching italic handwriting. Then let the kids play and the moms chat. Make it a fun social gathering.
Showing Off: Hold an open house after basic italic is mastered so the children can show off their best examples. Have another open house after spending a couple months on cursive italic. Have fun!
Remedial Handwriting 101:
For older students with less-than-perfect penmanship, try teaching an 8 to 12 week “Calligraphy” class. Adapt the above ideas to work with this older
group. Working with calligraphy pens, even the felt tip ones, is a reward after learning basic italics. Watercolor paintings with poems written in calligraphy make lovely exhibits or gifts.
The expanded and revised 2nd edition is now available. This is a digital ebook; the file will be
e-mailed for you to print out. THERE IS NO SHIPPING CHARGE. To order this digital book, you may use the order form
and mail a check or you may send $10 (US dollars only) to my PayPal account by sending funds to email@example.com
PLEASE SPECIFY THE TITLE OF THE BOOK YOU ARE ORDERING.
If you have ordered the Italics book and would like the new supplement, here it is.
Here is lined paper with room to draw a picture.
© Penny Gardner 2008 Learn more about Penny’s book on italics.
More Quotes for Copy Work. New page of quotes added July 2010. Quotes from artists. Alphabet chart
More detailed instructions on writing capital letters. Return to Lang. Arts