Handwriting is an important part of a child’s education. Good penmanship is a reflection of the person; with legible handwriting, one can easily read and understand your written feelings, concerns, and fears. It is necessary for signing legal documents. Even in the age of technology, it is still a valuable skill that a child must have a rudimentary foundation for completing. It’s needed in some of the most basic life skills, from check writing to addressing an envelope!
A few weeks ago, I noticed that Aikman’s handwriting had started to deteriorate. It was not necessarily at the point of being illegible, but it definitely was not what I would call acceptable. I blogged here about how the Handwriting Without Tears program did wonders for his preK handwriting, and for kindergarten, he did typical Montessori booklets, which was his “copywork.” However, his first grade handwriting needed an adjustment – and quickly!
This is when I turned to the Draw Write Now series. This program combines drawing with handwriting practice. There are 8 themed books in the series – from ocean life, to pond life, to animals around the world or on a farm. The books cost about $10 each, but can be purchased as a complete set for approx. $70. The books are geared towards first and second graders, but can easily be adapted for grades above or below. The text is in print; however, the sentences can easily be transcribed in cursive (using an online text generator similar to this one at Worksheet Works) for upper elementary practice. In addition to the books, we also use the Draw Write Now journal paper, to keep the drawings and the copywork together.
How we use Draw Write Now for handwriting practice:
Part 1: The Warm-up
The first thing that Aikman does is to review his notes from the day prior on what letters he needs to work on. (More about this note in just a moment…) He then pulls out a dry erase board, or goes to our large dry erase board and practices those letters, until he is content that he can write them well.
Part 2: Drawing and Writing
We divide each lesson into 2 parts, so that it does not take over 30 minutes to complete this activity. If it is the first day on the lesson, he follows the directions and draws the animal (along with a background of his choice), followed by writing the first 2 lines of the copywork in his journal. If it is the second day of the lesson, he writes the second 2 lines of the copywork and then colors the picture.
Part 3: Self-Assessment
The third part of the lesson is a self-assessment, which I am currently writing on a sticky note and placing inside of his journal. The self-assessment consists of 3 prompts:
- Today I worked on….
- My best words are…
- Tomorrow, I need to work on…
My eventual plan is to have a small form where he is recording it on his own daily, but at the moment, he is bringing his completed work to me and we are reviewing it together. I record his answers on his note (and oftentimes write a small note of encouragement about what he focused on). For the words that he designate are his 2 best words, I note them on the paper with a very small star.
The following day, this note is his reminder on what letters he feels he needs to work on, which takes us back to Part 1: The Warm-Up (above), and the cycle starts back over.
What I like about it:
One of the things that I really appreciate about this curriculum is that it teaching art while emphasizing handwriting. Periodically through the book, it will mention details about shading, ways to achieve a specific effect, and how to look at an object as a set of shapes. Likewise, while the child is focusing on drawing, he is also working on hand control, grip, and line formation – all fine details in handwriting.
Aikman’s thoughts: After a few weeks, he’s still loving practicing his handwriting in this manner!
So, how do you encourage your child to improve their handwriting? I’m always looking for tips!
Note: This is NOT a sponsored post from Draw Write Now. I am simply sharing what is working with us. I am not affiliated with Draw Write Now in any way. Some links are linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. The small amount of money we make from Amazon is used to purchase our homeschool curriculum.