Thursday, September 12, 2013

Logic of English - Cursive (A TOS CREW Review)


Many weeks ago, I was blessed to receive a copy of The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive  from Logic of English to review as a part of the Review Crew for TOS. With The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive I also received a Rhythm of Writing Quick-Reference Cursive Chart.

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I was very pleased to be chosen for this review because I consider cursive to be a very important skill
, one that contributes to the ability to write legibly and quickly. This is very helpful ability to have when taking a telephone message, taking notes, or even answering essays on tests in college. The biggest upcoming writing challenge for JD, in my mind, is the Writing portion of the college SAT tests, and I want to do everything in my power to help him be prepared.

Logic of English The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive really does break cursive down logically! The beginning of the book has lots of helpful notes for the instructor ("Steps to Teaching Handwriting"; "Handwriting Tips"; "Suggested Schedules", and "Ideas for Handwriting Practice"). This section would be helpful for students, too, but my son would never voluntarily read or apply anything additional "school work". So I familiarized myself with the content before I began. Then, through the course of this review I have had my son do two-pages a day independently. Younger students will not do this program independently, but my son is almost 14 and is able to. Our goal is remedial, not instructive. I have periodically reviewed his book to check his progress and diligence, as well as his form. He is doing well.
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The "Handwriting Tips" explained that since lowercase letters are used so much more than uppercase letters in our everyday handwriting, the instruction begins with the lowercase letters. The uppercase letters are introduced after the child has completely learned the lowercase letters. How smart! In 21 years of homeschooling that never occurred to me.

Also in the "Tips", the book explains how to teach handwriting in ways to touch all four modes of learning style. Instruction is given, letter-by-letter, on how to form each letter correctly, and the parent-teacher needs to make sure the child understands and implements correct form on each letter. This is SO important. Poor letter formation gets ingrained in the child's brain and becomes very difficult to reverse later. Ask me how I know. My son is in 8th grade and I was eager to go through this program! There are only a few letters he is/was forming incorrectly, and at this point I am not convinced that he will choose to change his ways just because he is instructed that he is forming letters incorrectly (things like starting the letter "y" at the bottom of the letter, and the same with one or two of his round letters -- starting the letter where it is supposed to end. It does not make for fluent cursive letters, and it also slows down manuscript writing.)

The author makes a point that fluent handwriting has a rhythm to it, and this is what we should seek to impart to our children. Flowing handwriting makes upper education easier and makes essay test completion in college possible! But this fluent handwriting comes at a cost: learning proper method, and practice, practice, practice! You can even see a great sampling of the contents of this book here: The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive (SAMPLE).
You will see a page in this sample indicating that the book is called "Cursive Handwriting", but I found this cute little graphic on their website:

Oh, and We Changed the Cover

Within the presentation of The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive there is a logic that I really appreciate. First, as indicated above, there is a section to introduce "Lowercase Letters", followed by a section for the "Uppercase Letters".  Withing the section for lowercase letters, letters are divided into types of letters. First "Swing Letters" are introduced - "i", "t", "u", "s", "j", "p", "r" and "w". (I'm not quite sure why "p" goes here and not in "curve letters", but it does. I think it is because the way your pen flows on "p" is more similar to the above letters than to the other curve letters.)  
Next "Curve Letters" are introduced: "a", "d", "g", "qu", "c" and "o".
Then there is a section teaching how certain letters are joined at the baseline.
 Next "Loop Letters" are introduced: "l", "b", "f", "e", "h" and "k". 
[I was so amazed at my son's formation of the "f"s that I had to study the page for awhile to convince myself that they were really hand-written by a 13-year-old boy and not preprinted in the curriculum!] The next section teaches the student about letters that connect with a "Dip Connector" (such as your small cursive "o"). 
Last, for the lowercase letters, are the "Bump Letters": "n", "m", "y", "v", "x" and "z". (No more photos -- my son is not to this part of the book yet.) The section for Uppercase letters introduces the different letters in a similar fashion, but the capital letters have more and different category styles than their corresponding lowercase letters. The entire format is very well thought out.
The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive is a soft-bound book with 174 pages. It is appropriate for use with students anywhere from six and under to adult. Hopefully you will make sure your student covers a comprehensive cursive course before they get to high school, or in high school at the latest. It gives them a real advantage in their higher education. [Did you know that many public schools have actually abandoned the teaching of cursive? I am appalled, and I have no intention of attempting to emulate government schools in my choices for my son's education!] The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive is a consumable book that sells for $15.00. The Rhythm of Writing Quick-Reference Cursive Chart is a sturdy, laminated non-consumable that costs $10.00. With a "Vis-a-Vis" marker your student can write right on this chart when learning, and you can wipe it clean with a damp cloth!

Logic of English offers a complete English program, of which The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive is just one aspect.  Other products they offer, in addition to The Rhythm of Handwriting - Manuscript, include Foundations (a beginning reading program); Essentials (a reading, grammar and spelling program for children ages 7 to adult) [--I really hope to be able to get ahold of this for my son sometime!]; a Logic of English i-Pad app; and a Logic of English Video Course.

I have been very pleased to have The Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive to include in my educational plan this year. I look forward to the time, later this year, when I can expect my son to be adequately prepared to turn in all his handwritten assignments in cursive instead of manuscript. I look forward to seeing if that helps him with his use of capital vs. lowercase letters. He currently begins sentences with lower case letters, and will throw random upper case letters into the middle of a sentence, sometimes into the middle of a word (I guess certain letters he just likes or remembers the capital form better). I think this product is very well priced for what it offers. My next goal... to get ahold of that Essentials program! :)

Members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to review a variety of products by Logic of English: Essentials, Foundations and The Rhythm of Handwriting, both Manuscript and Cursive. To read more Crew Reviews, Click on the banner below:

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