Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homeschool Review Crew: Classical Conversations Handwriting

Homeschooled children are frequently thought (known?) to be the exception to many of the plagues that come through modern-day schooling, but good handwriting seems to frequently get overlooked in both worlds. Try passing poor handwriting off to a Papa who does beautiful calligraphy work, though, and you'll find yourself doing some serious writing practice! Because my handwriting is legible, and decent, but not necessarily what old-school folks would call "great", I was pleased to have the chance to review the Classical Conversations PreScripts program.

We received the paper-book form (as opposed to the online/"e-" edition) that covered cursive handwriting and art lessons. The book is not supposed to be copied for use with multiple children but is supposed to be used once and then a new book should be ordered for each child. The books cost $12.99, and so aren't too expensive if you're only purchasing one or two.

Heading to the pool after finishing the lesson
I had 8-year-old Bruiser (a primarily left-brained learner) and 11-year-old Chef (primarily right-brained) work on the pages in alternating measure, since Chef really didn't need the work so much, but I wanted to give a fuller review by having each try it out given their different learning styles. The letters are done in copy-work fashion, and every third and fourth page or so gives a tidbit of a history lesson and an art lesson. They liked the art lessons more than the handwriting, which I expected because of how much they all draw anyway. 

The Right Brain-er
The letters are set up similar to what I remember doing in elementary school: solid-dashed-solid, three line paper with the letters written out accompanied by little arrows with numbers to show where to start, go next, and end. There is space on each page to trace once, then write once per letter. After the basic alphabet pages (only the first four pages maybe), the program quickly goes into complete sentences. 

If you go to the website to see the sample pages it will give you an idea of some of the artwork portions as well. Those are harder to describe because they introduce several methods of artistic design throughout the book. I was impressed by the art portions because I recognized so many of the methods presented from other art classes my children have done over the years.

From the Left side
One thing that I was really surprised and pleased to see was a mention of the Orthodox Church! I know that Orthodoxy plays a big part in history, but somehow it is frequently left out of most programs, and yet, there as one of the art lessons was a comparison between a Roman Catholic Church spire and a Russian Orthodox Church onion dome. It even explained some of the ideas behind the two different designs. Super pleased by that! 

But as a handwriting program alone do I recommend this one? That is a little hard to answer. I am not really all that fond of the trace-and-repeat method of teaching handwriting because, unless Mom is sitting right there next to the child, mistakes can be easily missed and even re-enforced as the child continues to write the same letter(s) incorrectly. With cursive it can be easy to do, depending on how you learned to write print letters previously. On the flip side, that is pretty much what The White Knight does to practice his calligraphy, and what he's had Maestro do as well. Also, the little history notes are nice, so overall this program is worth giving a try. It is meant to dovetail in with other Classical learning projects and to that end it makes a good resource to have. 


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1 comment:

  1. Cursive is a lost art ... I'm glad your kids are learning it. I actually work with a man in his late 20s who did not learn cursive.


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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