Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Selecting the "Write" Handwriting Program (Zaner-Bloser Guest Post)

Selecting the “Write” Handwriting Program

There are many things to consider when selecting a handwriting curriculum for your homeschool classroom. Our friends over at The Well-Trained Mind recommend choosing a program that incorporates the continuous-stroke method instead of ball-and-stick. But what is the difference between continuous-stroke and ball-and-stick manuscript handwriting?
Continuous-stroke manuscript handwriting involves fewer pencil lifts than ball-and-stick. For example, with the latter method of printing the manuscript letter b, you touch the headline and pull down straight to the baseline (of lined paper). Then you lift your pencil, touch halfway between the midline and baseline, and circle forward (right) all the way around. With the continuous-stroke method, the b looks just the same, but you form it without pencil lifts through one, continuous stroke. You touch the headline and pull down straight to the baseline. Then you push up to halfway between the midline and baseline and circle forward (right) all the way around.

You may also want to determine whether the program teaches a vertical or slanted manuscript alphabet. Vertical manuscript letterforms place minimal demand on motor memory, allowing students to learn handwriting quickly and to focus on other mechanics such as spelling, grammar, and composing. Considering how complex or simple the program’s strokes and stroke descriptions are, is another factor to consider when picking a handwriting curriculum. Researchers have found that simple, continuous handwriting strokes are easiest for children to learn. Fewer stroke descriptions make handwriting easy to teach, learn, and remember.

Zaner-Bloser is a perfect example of a handwriting program that incorporates all of the above. Their four basic manuscript strokes—vertical, horizontal, circle, and slant lines—are easiest to learn because they simplify motor planning and visual-motor coordination. Zaner-Bloser’s terminology, for example, is developmentally appropriate and easy to understand, consistent from grade level to grade level, and uses only 17 manuscript stroke descriptions to teach all 52 upper- and lowercase letters (compared to as many as 39 in other handwriting programs). Zaner-Bloser’s terminology uses clear, academic language, such as “push up,” “slide right,” and “slant left,” compared to another program’s descriptions for the same three strokes, “up like a helicopter,” “hit the ball,” and “kick.”
Hopefully this assists on your journey selecting the “write” handwriting program. You can find out more information from Zaner-Bloser on how to select a handwriting program.

This is a guest post provided by Zaner-Bloser

Sceleratus Classical Academy is not paid to host guest posts or to review products. I share freely what I think is helpful and give my honest opinions always. The people at Zaner-Bloser were kind enough to address something that confused me when I was reading The Well Trained Mind and trying to choose a handwriting program. I know other people have had this same hiccup, and I hope this helps. -Mrs. Warde

Here is a post about my initial consfusion
Here is a post about the great results Builder Boy has had with ZB handwriting K level

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