This year we have been focusing on language in our home school, as I understand that to be the foundation of all learning. I have three ages at home, and my desire is to teach in a style that we can all learn together instead of me teaching three separate children at different points in the day. Cursive class is my effort to teach reading and writing to my children as a group, all being at different stages of this skill.
My oldest started reading at a young age of 5 and a half. He is very self-driven and, although we worked on it some together, he picked it up quickly with little instruction. His first reader was the Bible! That was his great motivation because he had his own Bible and enjoyed looking up the Bible verses for Daddy to read during family worship, and soon he had the books of the Bible memorized. Next he wanted to read the verses himself! He had taught himself to sight-read Genesis and Deuteronomy and Matthew and Revelation, etc. I moved forward with teaching him to read by sight words from the Bible and our nature studies, but as my son grew older I noticed he wouldn’t sound out bigger words he didn’t know?!
When we discovered Spell to Write and Read over a year ago, I was so excited! I loved the idea of teaching the phonograms to my children, and I was already learning too! This process of teaching my children to read by “thinking to spell” was revolutionary to me. I dedicated time to studying the phonograms and method of teaching myself before I finally dove in to what we now call “Cursive Class” in our home.
I chose to teach my children cursive as they learned to “spell to read and write” for multiple reasons which I won’t go into detail in this post. Basically, my oldest who’d been writing for some time seemed to not be progressing with his handwriting skills, and often was still struggling with letter facing and progression. My younger son is a different learner, and I knew he needed something to aide him in his letter development. So, we switched to writing everything in cursive, even me. That was almost a year ago and I haven’t looked back! It truly is faster for my own purposes, and the children have no problem understanding which way a letter faces or how it develops as they write out their letters and words. Plus, their handwriting is developing so beautiful!
Cursive is our first sit-down class of the school day, because our minds are fresh after our morning routine. All three of my children participate, and we have prayer for school and dive in. I recently purchased some tracing cards for my younger two to make class more multi sensory for them.
My oldest has a cursive journal he brings out during this time, and we go through our single letter phonograms as a group. Sometimes I’ll have my youngest, who’s 4, hold up the flashcards, and I’ll call them out as she echoes the sounds each letter makes. My oldest says the sounds and writes out the phonograms in cursive in his journal. My middle child traces the letters as he also says the sounds each phonogram makes. This is such a simple exercise and takes approximately 15 minutes start to finish, but it has been the sole thing to improve handwriting and phonogram retention in my home so far. My oldest is already spelling better, and he’s sounding out those bigger words he doesn’t know! So, it accomplished my goals with him. We go on later in the morning to work on his spelling lists, just the two of us.
This class has another purpose behind it for my younger two children. It’s not a forced repertoire to make them learn to read, but very natural and fun, so as they desire to pick up God’s Word themselves and have their own reading experience, they too will have the foundations to start down that path of greater understanding and application.
My middle child is 6 and has recently expressed interest in learning to read on his own. I encouraged him to learn his letter sounds (phonograms), and that reading will happen after he develops that skill first. He enthusiastically chimes in during cursive. I know he will be a slower learner when it comes to reading on his own, but this method is so strong that he will progress quickly when he’s ready, and I’m excited for his experience in accomplishing his goal.
My youngest is exposed daily to reading through our frequent read alouds as well as participating in cursive with her brothers. She is eager to “teach” (with me) and quiz her big brothers on their letters. Repeated exposure is one of the biggest themes I have gathered from true education methods. It is how Jesus taught the multitudes as well as his own disciples during their short time together on earth.
So, I hope my 15 minutes of Cursive Class inspires you to take small snippets of your day to regularly expose your children to the foundations of reading, which is the foundation of all learning.