Training Tools: Cursive First
Starting With Cursive
The old argument about cursive and print alphabets has once again surfaced as a growing number of reading specialists and teachers are becoming more vocal about the advantage of cursive relative to reading skill development. They belive strongly that the cursive alphabet eliminates reading confusions that lead to symptoms of dyslexia and learning disabilities because the cursive letter shapes are distinctive. They believe strongly that the motor-learning challenge it presents greatly reduces the symptoms associated with labels like AD and ADHD. Some report complete elimination of symptoms and the need for prescription drugs.
The print alphabet presents many forms that are easily confused when learning to read the letters. Print letters 'd,' 'b,' 'p' are the same shape oriented in a different direction. Print 't' is print 'f' turned upside down. The same is true of 'M' and 'W,' 'n' and 'u.' The reading specialists contend the easily confused forms lead to frustration and delayed skill development. They also recognize that the joined forms make is easy to see which letters are part of the word.
Less widely recognized, is the fact that cursive letters and words must be built left-to-right. It is almost impossible to write a cursive word backwards. But, thousands of digital handwriting samples from grade-school pupils reveal that a high percentage (72%) of primary children built multiple print letters, and even whole words backwards, moving from bottom up and right-to-left. The specialists feel strongly these process patterns are left uncorrected, and are contributing to the steadyily increasing numbers of students who are labeled with various learning disabilities, including attention problems.
Requests from therapists, teachers and parents are varied. Some are looking for tools to help students who have dyslexia, dysgraphia or attention problems, but are not responding to the interventions available in the schools. Others are searching for a tool that is designed specifically for introducing written language using the cursive alphabet instead of print forms because they are convinced that alphabet will reduce the chance of developing learning problems. We have responded with a new cursive curriculum that is unique in many ways.
A New Delivery Concept
We have created totally new tools for instruction that are a fisrt in the industry. Our e-book teacher handbook, "Yes, You Can Teach Cursive" provides complete lessons plans which guide instruction and practice of cursive at all levels for introduction or remediation. Our e-workbooks provide pages for student use during the lessons. Purchase the licensed copy, download to your machine and print easily manage lesson pages as often as needed to develop fluency.
Two versions are available. A Building License allows all teachers to use the file as needed from the building server. An Individual License is also available. Using the free Acrobat Reader program from Adobe, you simply open the book and print the pages from your computer as you need them for lessons.
This format offers huge advantages. First, there is no need to purchase an expensive workbook for each child. You purchase one e-book license and download the PDF file. Second, because you print pages as needed, you are not limited to one use as with a bound student workbook. Third, the pages can also be used for instruction by projecting your computer screen. Fourth, the book is both a teaching tool and a text for all of the studetns. Fifth, student pages can be printed in color to take advantage of our exclusive Color/Rhythm movement models.
Our trademark color/rhythm alphabet models, introduced back in 1972, have proven to be exceptionally effective for process instruction over many years. One-color models on typical wall alphabet cards show what a letter looks like. Color/rhythm does that while also showing how the letter is made. Color separations illustrate the individual movements needed as well as the sequence of movement. The color separations show the goals for movements within letters enhancing the rate of internalization and the smooth, automatic fluency the motor system can deliver.
The Peterson Movement-Based Strategy
Develop, Practice and Apply
Regular exercise lessons are needed to develop the internal pattern. When you include rhythmic movement as a goal in pattern-development exercises, you will quickly see the need for practice lessons that will allow the child to improve control of the movements. Finally, and most importantly, when the child is expected to use handwriting, we provide the only process for beginning cursive application that makes sense. The child must learn to build words and does so one letter at a time. Only the Peterson cursive concept provides a way to do just that with smooth, rhythmic movement for cursive letters.
The entry-level e-book is alphabetically arranged so that you can use the movement training for letter-pattern development as part of your reading readiness or language program. Virtually all readiness programs include a writing activity in each lesson. As you introduce the forms, use the Peterson Method materials to handle the physical training as part of each lesson.
Review Before You Buy
The link provided here will take you to a review page where you can open a secured version of the book. You will be able to review all pages on screen. You will find that the book is both teacher guide and student text. Click here to review the program.
Print or Cursive, What Is Our Opinion?
The most important consideration is not related to choosing between print and cursive alphabets. Common sense dictates that both have a place. We know from vast experience, that good physical process instruction will allow success with both alphabets when fluency is included as a goal. Fluency is the important link between handwriting instruction and development of proficient written language skills. Unfortunately, the majority of "programs" offered by educational publishers do not recognize fluency as the goal of instruction.
Long term, we firmly believe that cursive offers the most fluency. And at the same time, it presents the biggest challenge. It is our opinion that one of the most valuable opportunities offered by handwriting instruction is precisely that learning challenge. However, this is true only when fluency is included as a goal, measured and targeted. The reward presented by successful learning is enhanced processing of written language in all forms. This processing reward can only be realized when precise process instruction provides understanding and the student has regular opportunity for skill development practice.
The difference between print and cursive is widely misunderstood. That difference is the direction of movements used to create the symbols. Print forms should be made primarily with down-stroke movements while cursive forms are produced (or should be) by moving the pen sideways. Fluent production with either set of characters demands lateral movement because our language travels left-to-right across a page. With print, the lateral movements are made when the pen is lifted. With cursive forms, the lateral moves can be made without lifting the pen once sufficient practice allows control skills to emerge.
It is also important to recognize that language skills like spelling, vocabulary, sentence structure rules and punctuation also play an important role. These "skills" also must be practiced. Thus the need for correlation between the physical process of transcription and the cognitive process of text generation. Putting thoughts on paper is the most complex form of symbolic language use. Take the time to digest the Peterson concept called "cursive print." You will discover that this is a sensible and understandable way of correlating these two complex tasks to maximize development of skills for composition proficiency.
Contact the author, Rand H. Nelson for more information or a progam presentation via Adobe Connect Pro on-line meeting.